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Regional summit to be held after DRC polls, UN envoy says

[Great Lakes] Ibrahima Fall, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region. IRIN
Ibrahima Fall, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region.
The next international conference for Africa's Great Lakes region will be held in August or September, after the completion of the political transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to Ibrahima Fall, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the region. "The political process in the Congo is due to end with the swearing in of a president on 30 June," Fall said on Wednesday at a news conference at UN headquarters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. "The conference will be held after this." The summit, which originally was scheduled to take place in December 2005, was postponed following the request by the DRC for more time to complete its electoral process, he said. Elections in the DRC are due to begin in April. Fall addressed the press on the last day of a three-day preparatory meeting that drew participants from 11 countries, considered the core states of the international conference. These countries are: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Republic of Congo (ROC), Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The is the fourth and last meeting in a series that has been organised by a joint secretariat of the African Union (AU) and the UN since 2003, with the aim of fostering lasting peace and security in the region. Some of the countries have experienced years of civil war, especially Burundi, CAR and eastern DRC. Fall said the delegates fine-tuned several protocols and programmes of action that cover four main themes of the international conference: peace and security; democracy and good governance; economic development and regional integration; and social and humanitarian issues. However, he said the delegates were yet to reach consensus on protocols dealing with property rights of returning refugees in countries affected by conflict, as well as on the legal exploitation of natural resources. "With a spirit of consensus, we have overcome the most difficult issues, and we hope we'll adopt the final protocols on property rights and illegal exploitation of natural resources before the end of this preparatory meeting," Fall said. He said the protocols and programmes of action that the delegates are expected to adopt during the preparatory meeting would then be taken before a regional interministerial meeting set for 19-22 February in Bangui, the capital of CAR. The ministers, in turn, will present them to their heads of state for adoption during the summit, planned for August or September. Regarding continued rebel activity in countries such as Burundi, DRC, Sudan and Uganda, Fall said the conference was putting in place mechanisms that would enable the voluntary or forced disarmament of such groups. "We believe this has to be tackled together, and we have protocols and projects under the theme of peace and security that will deal with disarmament of rebels, security management of common borders, the movement of illicit small arms and light weapons within the region, as well as fighting international crime within the region," Fall said. To ensure the successful implementation of these programmes after the Nairobi summit, Fall said, the Great Lakes states had included representatives of women’s groups, youth groups and civil society in all aspects of the preparatory stages. "When we reach the implementation phase, these groups will help by putting pressure on their government to respect these protocols and commit themselves to the programmes of action," he said. He said the conference would push for "greater visibility and accountability" in governments during the implementation stage. "This will be a process," he said. "It cannot change overnight." [GREAT LAKES: Highlights of draft protocols and programmes of action]

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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