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DR of Congo: Council appeals for efforts to reach settlement in Ituri

DR of Congo: Council appeals for efforts to reach settlement in Ituri

Members of the United Nations Security Council today voiced grave concern regarding the latest developments in Ituri, a strategic province in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Ituri has been the scene of ethnic clashes since June, according to the latest report of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the situation in the DRC. “The violence and the resulting displacement of the population have deepened the mistrust among the communities of Ituri, which is also related to the distribution of resources, as well as manipulation by both internal and external actors,” he wrote.

In a statement to the press following closed-door consultations, Council President Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon said the members “appeal to all local groups and, in particular, to the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), to show restraint and to put their efforts into achieving a political settlement.”

Towards that end, he said the members called on Uganda and the DRC to work with the UN Mission in the area (MONUC) to ensure the success of the Ituri Pacification Commission, and asked other States in the region, particularly Rwanda, also to contribute.

Uganda, as long as it maintains forces on the spot, should “watch out for the security of the civilian population in and around Bunia” the President added, referring to a town in Ituri.

The members also called on all parties to cooperate with MONUC, condemned the difficulties that the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) and the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo (MLC) have created for the Mission, and demanded “that this type of behaviour cease immediately,” Ambassador Belinga-Eboutou said.

By today’s press statement, Council members welcomed the ongoing withdrawal of foreign troops and asked MONUC to continue its verification work until it can report that all forces have been withdrawn, the Congolese parties were encouraged to continue their efforts to arrive at an inclusive agreement on the political transition as soon as possible.