UN begins consultations on political transition in DR of Congo

UN begins consultations on political transition in DR of Congo

Following months of shuttle diplomacy with parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a special envoy of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan today began a series of informal consultations with the DRC Government, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo and the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma on transitional political arrangements in the war-torn country.

The consultations led by envoy Moustapha Niasse are taking place in Pretoria with the active support of the African Union and the Government of South Africa. The envoy is also expected to meet representatives of other armed groups and political parties.

Transitional arrangements which emerge from these informal consultations will be formally endorsed by the Inter-Congolese Dialogue chaired by its facilitator, Ketumile Masire.

In another development, the UN Special Rapporteur for DRC, Iulia Motoc, called on all parties to participate in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, which, she said, would put in place mechanisms which allowing new institutions to function.

Ms. Motoc expressed concern about the increased violation of human rights reported during the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country and the resumption of armed conflict in eastern DRC, which had caused the humanitarian situation to deteriorate. She also voiced disapproval at the reintroduction of the death penalty in the country, calling on the Government to reconsider this setback to human rights.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today expressed concern about the situation in Ituri Province in the north east of DRC, where there are about half a million displaced persons.

Reporting that about 60,000 refugees had headed towards Beni in North Kivu, and thousands more to other locations such as Nairobi and Kampala, OCHA said the health situation in the area had become precarious.

“There is little or no access to health centres due to insecurity and lack of income; 15 health centres have been looted and destroyed and a cholera epidemic has broken out in Bunia, Iga-Barriere et Tchiomia,” OCHA said in a statement. Water systems have been sabotaged and food production drastically reduced in parts of the area. “Where nutritional centres are accessible, the number of malnourished children seeking help has increased,” OCHA said.