Masire proposes mini summit on troops withdrawal from DRC

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Former Botswana president, Sir Ketumile Masire has proposed a meeting of presidents who signed the Lusaka peace agreement for the Democratic Republic of Congo to work out a strategy for withdrawal of foreign troops.
Masire, facilitator of the inter-Congolese peace talks, said the process was vital for progress toward national dialogue.
He said his responsibility could not progress, "until and unless all foreign armies leave the DRC.
" Masire was speaking to journalists Wednesday in Lusaka at the ongoing OAU summit.
He said he had been talking to presidents who are signatories to the peace agreement as well as other presidents within the region to arrange for a meeting that would work out modalities of withdrawing all foreign troops from the DRC.
"I have been talking to presidents who are signatories to the Lusaka peace protocol and other presidents in the SADC area that they should meet and work out a strategy of withdrawal so that there will be no suspicions that if one withdraws, the other would move in.
"This has been well received and I wish and hope that in the not too distant future a meeting like that would be arranged and a synchronization of withdraws would be worked out," Masire said.
He noted that continued mass movement of Congolese refugees and displaced persons was an indication of the instability in Congo.
In Masire's opinion, the situation would not stabilize until the foreign armies have moved out of the country and armed opposition put down their troops.
He announced that the preparatory committee meeting for the Inter-Congolese dialogue, originally planned for 16 July, has been put off.
The postponement of the meeting to 20 August was due to issues of representation of political parties and the Congolese signatories to both the preparatory committee and the inter-Congolese dialogue that need to be resolved.
Masire felt that it would be impossible to complete the designation of representatives throughout the DRC in the time frame initially set out.
He said the meeting would be held in Gaborone, Botswana, and issues to be discussed include the date and venue of the inter-Congolese dialogue, the agenda and rules of procedure.
Although the exercise on dialogue was running rather smoothly, Masire said consultations among the Congolese parties involved were dragging.
"Clearly, some areas have been better prepared for the exercise than others", he said.
Masire's team has supervised the designation of 34 civil society representatives and an equal number of reserves in seven of the DRC's 11 provinces and the towns of Goma, Bukavu, Kindu, Kalemie, Kisangani, Buta, Bunia, Beni, Lodja, Kanaga, Dimbelege, Mbuji, Mayi and Lubumbashi.

11 july 2001 11:30:00

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