"Museveni said he was open to a private meeting with the Congolese Head of State [Joseph Kabila]," Ngongi told a news conference in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, adding that a Ugandan delegation had already travelled to Kinshasa to try to iron out differences, and to push for the implementation of the IPC.
"I hope that the contacts already made will prepare the ground for official meetings to be held in a few days or weeks which will lead to the implementation of the Ituri Pacification Commission," Ngongi said. "This is very a important step, otherwise problems in the northeast of the country would persist."
The IPC is a body mandated by the Luanda agreement signed on 6 September between the governments of the DRC and Uganda, charged with organising a conference of all stakeholders in the crisis, to comprise representatives of the DRC and Uganda, MONUC, the numerous ethnic groups of the region and "political, military and social forces" in the region, as well as observers from the African Union and the government of Angola.
Continuing insecurity in the region has delayed the work of the IPC and the start of the conference, which was originally scheduled to have been convened on 17 October 2002. It has not yet been decided who will chair the proceedings of the conference.
If successful, the IPC's work would conclude with the establishment of administrative and military structures acceptable to all parties in the region, even before the establishment of national transitional government institutions.
Ngongi said that despite MONUC's presence in the area, it was not possible to verify all the information received. "In Ituri, for instance, there is insecurity, and unarmed military observers cannot go beyond [its main town] Bunia," he said. He added, however, that he welcomed the commitment made by all parties to respect the ceasefire in the area.
That agreement, signed in the northwestern DRC town of Gbadolite on 30 December 2002 by leaders of three rebel groups - the Mouvement de liberation du Congo and its ally, the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-National, and their rival, the RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de liberation - could, if respected, allow for provision of humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered region.
"I hope that very soon everything will be set for the final withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC," he stated, referring to Uganda People's Defence Force troops that have remained in Bunia and along the slopes of the Ruwenzori mountains at the request of MONUC for the protection of civilians.
With regard to reports received by MONUC of recent troop movements throughout eastern DRC, Ngongi noted that "MONUC's mission was not only to observe but also to deter parties from carrying out activities likely to disrupt the peace process in the DRC".
[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: Irin@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.irinnews.org . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]
Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2003