Press Releases

    SG/SM/8472
    AFR/507
    4 November 2002

    "DEEPLY COMMITTED" TO PEACE IN GREAT LAKES REGION,
    SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PARTIES TO "STAY THE COURSE"



    NEW YORK, 1 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the meeting of Presidents Mbeki, Kabila and Kagame on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, delivered by Mustapha Niassé, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Pretoria, 1 November:

    After nearly a decade of conflict and suffering, the signing of the Pretoria Agreement on 31 July 2002, with the facilitation of President Mbeki of South Africa, was a major step forward in the peace process -- not only for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) but also for the Great Lakes region.

    I would like to congratulate Presidents Kabila and Kagame for the courage they have shown in entering into this agreement. By doing so they have taken the lead in laying down arms and settling their conflict by peaceful diplomatic means.

    Since the signing of the Pretoria Agreement, the Government of Rwanda has declared the withdrawal of its troops from the DRC. This is a major and most welcome accomplishment. Other countries have since taken significant positive action towards their withdrawal. For its part, the Government of the DRC is cooperating with the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and has banned the leadership of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération de Rwanda, based in Kinshasa.

    Presidents Kabila and Kagame have embarked upon the path to peace. Yet, as the recent incidents in Uvira have shown, the first days of a newly signed peace agreement are often the most fragile. I strongly urge both Presidents to stay the course, act with restraint and continue to show political leadership.

    The international community can assist in building confidence between the two countries. The Third Party Verification Mechanism and United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), which have already contributed much to the advancement of the peace process, will continue to do everything possible to help the parties.

    Presidents Kabila and Kagame know that I am deeply committed to assisting them and others in bringing peace to the region. In this context, I ask them to ensure that their Governments take the following steps:

    • There should be a short, intense period of monitoring and continued verification;

    • The Government of the DRC must be more active in cooperating in the apprehension of those ex-Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR)/Interahamwe members indicted by the ICTR;

    • The parties must act with urgency to advance Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement, Reintegration (DDRRR);

    • The parties should help establish confidence in the east –- a process to which the United Nations is ready to contribute; and

    • The parties must use their influence to promote the inter-Congolese dialogue and embark upon the implementation of the agreements, which I hope will be reached soon.

    I am instructing my Special Envoy Mustapha Niassé and the MONUC team to pursue these issues with the parties.

    As requested by the Security Council, I am taking steps to increase MONUC’s political and military presence in the East, not only in terms of DDRRR but also to encourage all local actors to engage in talks in order to end the hostilities and agree on a basis for peaceful coexistence in the region. In the meantime, I have already presented comprehensive proposals to the Security Council on the enhanced role of the United Nations in the peace process.

    During the last few weeks, significant progress has also been made in the negotiations aimed at reaching an all-inclusive agreement on a power-sharing arrangement during the transition in the DRC. All the Congolese components now seem to have agreed on a formula, and I hope that a final accord will be reached on this important issue very soon, which would be endorsed by the inter-Congolese dialogue under the chairmanship of its Facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire.

    I fully support the efforts of President Mbeki in facilitating the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement, and appreciate his support for the work of my Special Envoy and the Facilitator in bringing about a successful conclusion to the inter-Congolese dialogue.

    The Third Party Verification Mechanism, which was created under the Pretoria Agreement, is a new and innovative international instrument. I am confident that it will continue to work in a very cooperative proactive and constructive spirit, as called for by the Pretoria Agreement. In this connection, I commend the Governments of the DRC and Rwanda for providing the Mechanism their full support in carrying out its work.

    I wish you all success in your deliberations.

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