DR Congo + 2 more

Great Lakes countries sign 'Brussels Commitment'

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Brussels, Belgium (PANA) - Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda have signed with their former colonial power, BFelgium, a document entitled "Brussels Commitment" in which they reaffirmed their resolve to establish peace in the war-torn Great Lakes region.
The document was adopted at the end of the "African Week" festivities in Brussels last Saturday with a gala party attended by Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel.

However, DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, who was earlier received by King Albert II and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, did not attend the gala party.

Initiated by Louis Michel, the "African Week" was meant to sensitise Belgians about the peace process in the Great Lakes region.

A reliable source told PANA that Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Kabila and Buyoya signed the Brussels Commitment, while Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Muringande initialled it on behalf of his country.

According to the document, the three countries of the Great Lakes region "reaffirmed their determination to enforce, throughout the region, the essential values of democracy, human rights, good governance and justice."

Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda also agreed to organise an international conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region.

The international community has already mobilised all the funds needed to organise this conference.

But the meeting is unlikely in the first half of this year because the transitional government spelt out under the Inter- Congolese Inclusive Accord is not yet formed in Kinshasa and there is uncertainty over Buyoya's ceding of power to his vice president 1 May.

Buyoya is required to step down 1 May 2003 at the end of the first phase of the transition for Vice-President Domitien Ndayizeye to succeed him, according to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accord.

Under the Brussels Commitment, Belgium promised to continue back ongoing peace and reconciliation processes in the Great Lakes region "through all diplomatic, economic, financial and means."

While the international community is currently "focused on the Iraqi crisis," which causes a "slackening in efforts to step up the ongoing peace process in the Great Lakes region," Belgium emphasises "the urgency and pressing need" for diplomatic and financial efforts world-wide in favour of that conflict-prone region.

Cognisant that peace in the Great Lakes region is "a major issue for stability" in the entire Central African area, Belgium expressed commitment to ensure the "issue remained on the agenda of international organisations, especially the European Union."

Pan African News Agency
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