DR Congo

DRC: UN Special Envoy sets priorities for transitional period

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BRUSSELS, 13 January (IRIN) - Following his recent reappointment as the UN Special Envoy for the peace process in DRC, Mustapha Niasse has said his priority is to remold the national army out of the amalgam of rival armed groups in the country.
Speaking in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, on Friday, he said a new army would be drawn from elements of the current national army, the armed forces of Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma), RCD-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K/ML), RCD-National, and Mayi-Mayi militias. He is due to convene a meeting of the military staffs of all these forces.

Another priority issue, he said, was the provision of security in Kinshasa for the people who would lead a transition government, and the finalisation of the draft constitution that would be discussed by a technical committee.

"After that, a new Congolese government will be put in place, along with a new national assembly and a new Senate," Niasse said.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, who held talks with Niasse in Dakar, reiterated the importance of security in Kinshasa, saying it was a "prerequisite for many actors". The two other problems, he added, could be solved by employing a "gradual approach", for instance on the question of a federal or non-federal model for the final constitution.

Michel said the aim was to set up a transitional government "by mid-March 2003", that would be headed by the current president, Joseph Kabila, aided by four vice-presidents. The first elections since the DRC's independence in 1960 should be organized within a period between 24 and 30 months.

Michel, who traveled last week in Central and Southern Africa, said he was pleased with Niasse's reappointment as special envoy.

"Due to the lack of an external leadership for the peace process in DRC since 31 December 2002, I am very glad that Moustapha Niasse has accepted to be reappointed as UN special envoy for the peace process in DRC," Michel said.

Michel's visit was dedicated to the implementation of the Pretoria agreement on power-sharing in DRC.

"The Pretoria agreement is a real but fragile window of opportunity," Michel said. "Everybody believes in it but the mistrust remains high, so it's urgent to implement it. We will have to condemn any political or military initiative which could jeopardize the agreement, notably in eastern Congo."

Meantime, Belgium is helping to put in place an international committee, in coordination with the UN and various countries, including South Africa, Angola and DRC. Under the Pretoria agreement, this committee is aimed at guaranteeing its implementation and settling any disagreement among its signatories.

In a related development, the facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue (ICD), Ketumile Masire, is in Kinshasa to begin preparations for the final session of national peace and reconciliation talks. His meetings will focus mainly on the date and the venue for the final plenary session of the dialogue which will conclude negotiations that began in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October 2001.

Niasse, a former prime minister of Senegal, previously served as one of Masire's close aides for the ICD.

[ENDS]

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