"As soon as Moustapha Niasse [the UN special envoy for the peace process in DRC] will solve these questions, I will be able to convene the final session of the dialogue within two weeks. It will last three days," Masire said in Brussels.
He said there was close cooperation between his team and Niasse's, adding that "there is no competition between us". Masire, Botswana's former president, said Niasse would first meet DRC President Joseph Kabila on 31 January before launching his discussions with the parties. "I don't want to speculate on a date for the end of Niasse's consultations," Masire said, "because it's not good to switch from one date to another date indefinitely".
Concerning the final session of the dialogue, Masire said that he had met all the parties in January. There was general agreement on all the points except the venue, he added. Kabila wants the talks held in Kinshasa or elsewhere in DRC, but others fear to go to Kinshasa "because of security problems", Masire said. "Even if I consider the venue inside DRC as a good idea, I will have to find a consensus among all the parties."
"The time between the closure of the dialogue and the implementation of the transitional government will have to be very short, because we all know the dangers to delay the peace process," he said.
He expressed "disappointment" at negative developments that had occurred after the signing of the Pretoria agreement on 17 December 2002. He recalled the fighting in eastern DRC, including Ituri District and the recent attempted expulsion of members of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo from Kinshasa.
Concerning the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) of Thomas Lubanga, which is not party to the dialogue, Masire said: "The question of the representation inside the dialogue is closed. There will be neither a new party nor a new debate during the final ceremony. But UPC could discuss with the transitional government in order to consider how they could participate to the transition."
After briefing the special representative of the EU, Aldo Ajello, and Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, Masire was due to leave Brussels for Paris and from there to Washington D.C, New York and London.
[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