Representatives from the Kinshasa government, armed opposition movements, opposition political parties, civil society, and Mayi-Mayi militias are holding talks on a constitution, an integrated military, and security measures for political leaders of a future transitional national government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
These outstanding matters, which have remained unresolved since the signing of a peace accord by all parties to the ICD in Pretoria on 17 December 2002, are being addressed by two committees: the constitutional committee and the defence and security committee.
At the opening ceremony, the UN Secretary-General's special envoy for the DRC peace process, Moustapha Niasse, announced that the work of the committees could last until 3 March, leading to the convocation of a plenary of the two committees on 5 March.
Niasse is being assisted by South African Local Affairs Minister Sydney Mafumadi in facilitating the work of the committees.
Once this stage is reached, a final session of the ICD could be convened by its facilitator, the former president of Botswana, Ketumile Masire.
Niasse called on the representatives of the various parties to the ICD to work diligently and efficiently, bearing in mind the urgency of restoring peace in the DRC - a view that appeared to be shared by technical committee members.
"I believe that this time the work should make great strides, because President Joseph Kabila has declared that he wants to have a transitional government in place by the end of March, beginning of April," the Kinshasa government spokesman, Communication Minister Kikaya Bin Karubi, told IRIN.
"It is imperative that we resolve issues that have remained outstanding since the signing of the Pretoria accord. We must not miss this last chance for peace," said Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Ugandan-backed Mouvement de liberation du Congo.
"We are particularly eager to see consensus reached with regard to an integrated army, because if there is no agreement on this, no political power can function in the DRC," said Kikbiswa Naupes, a representative of a coalition of NGOs.
Niasse told IRIN on 6 February that a transitional national government could be in place between the end of March and early April.
"God willing, and if no new obstacles are put in the way, I believe that by the end of March, early April, a national unity government presided [over] by the head of state, Joseph Kabila, will be in place here in Kinshasa in accordance with the global and inclusive accord signed by all parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue on 17 December 2002 in Pretoria, South Africa," he said.
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