Security Council delegation for the Great Lakes Region

New York- UN (PANA) -- A UN Security Council delegation leaves Tuesday for the Great Lakes Region of Africa on a 10-day mission to discuss the implementation of the Lusaka accord to end the three-year conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
French Ambassador and leader of the 12-member team, Jean-David Levitte told reporters Monday that the mission was conceived in the light of the new momentum in the implementation of the peace accord signed in the Zambian capital in 1999, by parties to the Congo conflict.
With the parties about to complete the disengagement of their forces from the frontlines, he said, the Council wanted to see how progress could be made towards implementing the other aspects of the accord, such as the withdrawal of foreign forces and disarmament and reintegration of armed groups in the country.
Levitte said the delegation would discuss the withdrawal programme and disarmament schedule with Uganda and Rwanda, which are backing the rebellion, and then the DR Congo government with its allies from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The mission will also discuss the programme for national dialogue with the facilitator, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana.
The team is scheduled to visit the capitals of all State signatories to the Lusaka accord as well as Arusha, Tanzania and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Apart from the problem in the DR Congo, the delegation also intends to cover the situation in Burundi, where former South African President Nelson Mandela is mediating a peace process on behalf of the OAU.
Levitte said the delegation will begin its mission in South Africa where it will meet with Mandela, President Thabo Mbeki and Masire before moving to DR Congo capital Kinshasa.
While in the Congo, the delegation will meet with government officials, members of the civil society and religious leaders.
The mission ends 25 May in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
Last year, another Council delegation went to the DR Congo in an effort to encourage the parties to implement the Lusaka peace accord.
Unlike that mission, which failed to elicit concrete commitment from the parties, the prospects for this year look brighter as the new Kinshasa government and its foes from Uganda and Rwanda appear willing to see an end to the conflict.
The UN has deployed some 3,000 observers in the DR Congo to monitor the disengagement of forces and subsequent withdrawal of foreign forces.
The French Ambassador said there would be an expansion of the UN force known as MONUC once the parties move to the implementation of the next stages of the peace accord.

14 may 2001 19:27:00

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