Her Majesty's Government is gravely concerned
about the deteriorating situation in Ituri, and increased tension between
the Congolese parties to the conflict, and Uganda and Rwanda. This threatens
the peace and security of the Great Lakes Region. Following recent progress
on implementation of the Global and Inclusive Agreement for a transitional
national government in the DRC, it is important that all parties exercise
restraint in relation to Ituri.
'The UK strongly supports the recent statement from the President of the United Nations Security Council calling for the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from the DRC, and for the government of Uganda to abide by its commitment to withdraw its forces by 20 March. We also urge the government of Rwanda, in line with its Statement of 14 March, to refrain from any action that would aggravate the situation in Ituri'.
Notes for Editors
1. Tension in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo district of Ituri has escalated since 6 March.
2. The 'Global and Inclusive Agreement' was signed by Congolese parties in Pretoria on 17 December 2002. It provides for the establishment of a power-sharing transitional government in Kinshasa. Related Agreements on the Constitution, formation of a new army and security for the transitional institutions were signed on 6 March in Pretoria. The transitional government will be established following the final plenary of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, scheduled to take place in South Africa on 24-25 March.
3. The Luanda Agreement was signed on 6 September 2002 by the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It prescribed Ugandan withdrawal and the establishment of an Ituri Pacification Commission. The agreement was amended in Dar es Salaam on 9 February 2003 to extend the deadline for Ugandan withdrawal to 20 March 2003.
4. On 14 March a statement from the government of Rwanda threatened Rwanda would re-intervene in DRC unless the international community acted over Uganda's presence in Ituri.
5. The UK acts as Third Party to a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Uganda and Rwanda intended to defuse tension between the two.