While the agreement, signed on 17 December 2002 in Pretoria, South Africa, was an important step towards national reconciliation in the DRC, the parties had yet to take steps to implement the accord and had instead remained engaged in military confrontations, Annan said in his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Organisation Mission in the DRC (MONUC).
Annan appealed to the accord's signatories to respond positively to the aspirations of the "war-weary" people of the DRC, and to show the necessary statesmanship to "embark on the long but critical road towards genuine national reconciliation and peace".
According to UN News, the report highlighted two issues that will be vitally important during the forthcoming phase of the peace process, the first of which is that the DRC's territorial integrity must be respected.
"I am concerned by the widespread suspicions of continuing political and military involvement in the eastern DRC, including by neighbouring states," Annan said.
Despite the declared withdrawal of most military forces, accompanied by initial steps towards disarmament and demobilisation, the military situation on the ground - particularly in the Ituri District and the Kivu provinces of eastern DRC - remains volatile, according to the report. Annan said security concerns had hampered MONUC's verification work, and he called on all those able to influence the authorities and armed forces controlling those areas to insist they allow MONUC unimpeded access, and to address regional issues through diplomacy, not "hostilities conducted by proxies in Congolese territory".
UN News reported that the other critical element for success of the peace process was the establishment of the Ituri Pacification Commission, particularly since the potentially explosive nature of the political and military situation in the northeast - as well as the possibility that outside forces might be drawn in - were sources of major concern.
"The importance of a political solution to underpin any military disengagement and ceasefire is key," Annan said, urging all parties and states involved to engage constructively in establishing the commission without delay, and to cooperate with MONUC's peacemaking activities.
Reacting to the report on Wednesday, the Security Council expressed concern over serious human rights violations in the DRC, calling for the punishment of those responsible, and urging all parties to the conflict to maintain law and order in the areas under their control.
Council members "reiterated that there can be no impunity", the president of the 15-member Council, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany, said. Council members expressed their particular concern at the situation in Ituri, and called on the Union des patriotes congolais to cooperate fully with MONUC.
Members demanded that full freedom of movement be provided to MONUC so that it could investigate allegations that Rwandan and other foreign troops were present on DRC territory, as well as allegations that the DRC government was providing the armed groups in the east of the country with support.
They also condemned the recent attack against a MONUC helicopter in Bunia, and demanded that the perpetrators be identified and brought to justice immediately.
[For Annan's complete report, go http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/vID/B89A5FB69BD36C33C1256CD70047350D?OpenDocument]
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