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    Opposition Alliance Awaiting Resumption of Dialogue

    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

    May 8, 2002
    Posted to the web May 8, 2002

    Members of the opposition Alliance pour la sauvegarde du dialogue intercongolais are still in South Africa, awaiting resumption of the inter-Congolese dialogue (ICD), Bizima Karaha, a senior official of the Goma-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel movement, told IRIN on Wednesday.

    "The dialogue must take place whether the warmongers continue with the battle or not, because this is the will of the people of Congo," Karaha said, reiterating his optimism that the ICD would resume. He noted, however, that no date has yet been set.

    The alliance brings together RCD-Goma and five unarmed opposition parties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of them being the Etienne Tshisekedi-led Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS).

    "RCD wants dialogue more than ever. We [together with other opposition groups] are united for the dialogue, and there will be dialogue," Karaha said. He accused DRC President Joseph Kabila and the leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, as having "run away" from the recently concluded ICD in Sun City, South Africa.

    "All items in the agenda at Sun City were discussed, and there was only one item left, which was the discussion of the new political order, the new constitution and power-sharing," Karaha explained.

    He said any pressure brought to bear to make them recognise the "agreement" between Kabila and Bemba instead of proper dialogue resuming, "which we believe is the only way for the peace process in Congo", would be "pressurising us to turn our backs on the dialogue itself, and this is not to the interest of the Congolese".

    Karaha said RCD officials were working in unity towards the achievement of peace in the DRC and described as untrue reports by L'Observateur newspaper that the rejection of the Sun City accord by some senior RCD officials had created a rift between them and the president of RCD, Adolphe Onusumba, and other officials.

    "The position could explain why Adolphe Onusumba has been sacked and replaced by Moise Nyarugabo, a pro-Kigali element. Already, there has been mention of the presence in Kinshasa of RCD-Goma officials - a high-ranking officer and a few politicians," the newspaper said, quoting "reliable sources".

    On Tuesday, Kabila told the visiting United Nations Security Council delegation that he was willing to include the RCD in current negotiations between his government and the MLC over the details of the Sun City accord.

    Eastern Buffer Zone Has Unanimous Support, Says UN

    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

    May 8, 2002
    Posted to the web May 8, 2002

    A plan to create a buffer zone between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and three of its eastern neighbours has won unanimous support from countries in the region, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to the DRC, Amos Namanga Ngongi, said on Wednesday.

    Summarising the achievements of last week's tour of Great Lakes countries by a UN Security Council delegation, Ngongi said "a major point to bear in mind is the unanimity obtained for a project to create a buffer zone between the DRC and three of its neighbours, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda".

    "This is remarkable progress," he said, but cautioned that for the plan to be put into action, all political actors would have to be involved.

    "The RCD [the Rwandan-backed rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma)], which controls the frontier zone, must be included in the political process."

    The RCD did not sign up to the power-sharing deal reached at Sun City in South Africa last month between the government of DRC and the Ugandan-backed rebel Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC).

    The proposal for a buffer zone, as outlined by France's ambassador to the UN, Jean-David Levitte, would involve cooperation between the Congolese armed forces and troops from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

    The security council delegation put the proposal to regional heads of state during discussions of three interlocking issues: the inter-Congolese dialogue, the disarmament of armed groups in eastern DRC and the withdrawal of foreign troops from DRC.

    The Rwandan government has said repeatedly that it will not withdraw its troops from Congo until Rwandan Hutu extremists based in DRC have been disarmed and demobilised, while the government of DRC has previously insisted on a total, unconditional withdrawal from its territory of all foreign forces.

    "We have had the agreement of all countries concerned at the level of the head of state for this idea to be realised when the time is right," said Levitte, who was leading last week's UN delegation.

    "We envisage, with the total withdrawal of foreign forces, that the three neighbouring countries which have security problems might station troops inside a narrow zone of Congo, to create cooperation between Congolese and Rwandan troops, for example, with the help of MONUC [the UN military mission to the DRC]," he continued. "I think MONUC can deploy observers in this zone as it has done along the immense disengagement line."

    Ngongi noted that the modalities for the actual implementation of this undertaking would be worked out by MONUC, in cooperation with the Joint Military Commission (JMC). Established under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, the JMC is composed of two representatives from each of the nine recognised parties to the DRC conflict, as well as representatives from MONUC, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and Zambia.

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