DR Congo

Hain welcomes apointment of facilitator for DRC peace process

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Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain today welcomed the appointment of Sir Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana, as facilitator for the national dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a process aimed at taking forward the Lusaka Peace Accord and restoring peace to civil war-wracked DRC.
Peter Hain said:

'I welcome the appointment of former President Masire as the facilitator for the national dialogue in DRC.

'This is a very encouraging step in implementing the Lusaka Peace Process. Our hope is that all those concerned will move swiftly, and without preconditions, to the start of that dialogue.

'I'll be speaking in a UN Security Council debate on DRC later today. In my speech, I will draw attention to the precarious state of the Lusaka Accord and call on the international community to do more to ensure its successful implementation. The appointment of a respected statesman such as Sir Ketumile Masire to take forward the national dialogue process is an important step forward.

'In Britain's current role as President of the Security Council and as part of my own commitment to bring the profile of Africa up the international agenda, I shall be announcing to the Security Council today a further 100,000 pounds of UK assistance to the Joint Military Council, a process vital to the implementation of the Lusaka Accord.'

Peter Hain, Foreign Office Minister for Africa, chaired a Security Council debate on the UN and Africa in New York on 15 December.

Mr Hain encouraged real debate and asked Security Council members to concentrate on practical and operational ways to make a difference to Africa's problems. Three main areas formed the focus of debate:

  • Coordination between the Security Council, the OAU and regional African organisations.
  • African peacekeeping.
  • UN action in preventing conflicts in Africa.
Speaking in his national capacity, Mr Hain took forward these three themes in his introduction as Chairman. On better UN/OAU coordination, the Minister proposed institutionalised contact between the two organisations and joint envoys to African countries and regions. A joint approach and joint action will carry more weight and produce better results in dealing with Africa's conflicts.

But prevention is better than resolution and Peter Hain urged the Security Council to consider measures to improve early warning on possible African conflicts, including reports from the Secretariat, Security Council missions and preventive deployments.

In Angola, for example, despite UN embargoes, arms are still reaching UNITA rebels and enabling them to continue waging a debilitating civil war.

Mr Hain said:

'The UN has failed to enforce agreed sanctions resolutions in Angola to stop supplies of fuel, arms and munitions to Savimbi's murderous UNITA forces. We applaud Ambassador Fowler's groundbreaking work but he needs practical help, including intelligence and information from many Governments represented here today.

'I have discussed with the US, France, Belgium, the Ukraine and many African nations the need to act now. After the recent military defeats Savimbi has suffered, now is the time to make sanctions bite. Far too many corrupt government officials in the region are collaborating with supplies to and diamond sales from UNITA. Arms are coming in from Eastern Europe. It is time those responsible were named and shamed. Let us work together to do so.'

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In a separate Security Council Debate on DRC on 16 December, Peter Hain will announce a further GBP 100,000 of UK support for Lusaka Peace Process and outline the action the international community needs to take to ensure that the process succeeds in bringing peace to DRC and the region.

The Council will hear a report from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on his recent visit to the region, as well as other reports highlighting the fragility of peace. Mr Hain, in his intervention, will highlight an action plan for the international community to do what it can to support the process. Among other measures, this will include a call for:

  • Pressure from the international community on all the parties to insist that they abide by their obligations under the Lusaka Accord.
  • Support for the mechanisms established to implement the Agreement. Mr Hain will announce a further GBP 100,000 of UK Government support for the Joint Military Council of the Lusaka Peace Accord
  • Support for deployment of an effective UN force to help implement Lusaka
  • A Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) plan for the DRC.
NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. UK is President of the UN Security Council for December. In this capacity, Peter Hain will chair the Security Council meetings.

2. The GBP 100,000 for the Lusaka Peace Accord JMC is support from the Department for International Development.

3. Peter Hain presented his vision of British policy in Africa - 'Backing Success' - at Wilton Park on 13 September and to the UN Security Council on 29 September.