ANGOP reported that the announcement had been made on Monday by Angolan Foreign Minister Joao Miranda after returning from Tanzania, where he represented Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos at a meeting between DRC President Joseph Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
At the conclusion of the two-day summit held in Dar es Salaam, Kabila and Museveni reaffirmed their commitment to abide by the Luanda accord of 6 September 2002, which calls for the total withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC and the normalisation of relations between Kinshasa and Kampala. An amendment to the Luanda accord was signed, allowing for a new timetable for the work of setting up the IPC.
Under the new timetable, the IPC should be established and operating by 17 February. It should end its work on 20 March, by which date Ugandan troops should have completed their withdrawal from the DRC.
The amendment also creates a permanent consultative mechanism to enable the presidents to monitor the situation in Ituri closely and take "appropriate action to help them maintain a climate of peace and security in the region".
In a joint communique, Kabila and Museveni said they had agreed that the IPC's preparatory committee be composed of two representatives each from the governments of the DRC and Uganda, and from MONUC, along with four representatives from the various stakeholders in Ituri.
The presidents also jointly condemned those who continued to supply weapons to armed factions in Ituri, resulting in the escalation of violence and human suffering.
Museveni, who acknowledged the continuing presence of 2,000 Ugandan troops in the DRC, said he and his DRC counterpart would persevere in their efforts to achieve peace.
"We shall not grow tired," Museveni said. "The formation of the Ituri Pacification Committee is just one step. But the most important thing is to have one government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Kabila said he was "optimistic" that, this time, the Ugandan troops would withdraw fully, and described the establishment of the IPC as "a positive development".
According to the UN panel of experts on the illegal exploitation of DRC resources, some 3.5 million people have died since 1998, when Ugandan and Rwandan troops entered the DRC's civil war on the side of rebels opposed to the Kinshasa government.
[For background information on the Ituri conflict, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/webspecials/Ituri/default.asp]
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