Lifting of ban on Congolese political parties welcomed by Security Council mission
"This sets the stage for positive developments in the days to come," Ambassador Jean David Levitte of France, who is leading the mission, told journalists following the group's meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki in Johannesburg.
Another member of the delegation, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, said that the lifting of the ban gives "momentum to what we are doing in pushing with [former Botswanan] President [Ketumile] Masire the internal dialogue process together with the disengagement and withdrawal process. For us it is extremely good news."
The Council mission is leaving South Africa this evening for Kinshasa, where the members are scheduled to meet President Kabila tomorrow.
Earlier today, the delegation met with Mr. Masire, the facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue. According to a UN spokesman, during that meeting Ambassador Levitte warned that movement on troop withdrawals without parallel progress in the national dialogue could lead to a dangerous situation where the national armed parties might use force - and not political dialogue - to solve problems.
The Council ambassadors also met with former South African President Nelson Mandela, Facilitator of the Burundi peace process, who told reporters afterwards that he was "optimistic, as always, that we are going to have a humanitarian breakthrough in Burundi." Ambassador Levitte added that the mission "will exert the strongest pressure on the leaders of the two main armed groups, so that they choose peace and not resume fighting and war. There is no military solution in the country. Only discussion can bring peace."