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Congolese parties meet under UN auspices to discuss key transitional issues

Congolese parties meet under UN auspices to discuss key transitional issues

As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to work towards genuine peace and national reconciliation, a joint United Nations team is coordinating a series of meetings underway in Pretoria, where Congolese parties are pressing ahead with efforts to bolster a recent peace accord.

Under the auspices of the joint UN/South Africa mediation team, two technical committees met for the first time in Pretoria yesterday as part of the follow-up to the 17 December signing of a comprehensive power-sharing agreement. The UN side is headed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, Moustapha Niasse.

All the parties to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue are represented, and the committees are working to address key outstanding issues - including finalization of a draft transitional constitution - which form an integral part of the All-Inclusive Agreement. One committee will also examine military and security issues.

All the parties seem determined to quickly move forward the outstanding issues and expedite the conclusion of the Dialogue and the establishment of the transitional government.

Meanwhile, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) reported late yesterday that a UN helicopter carrying the its Force Commander, Gen. Mountago Diallo, was shot at 15 minutes after taking off from Bunia.

No one was hurt, though a bullet pierced the cockpit window. The helicopter continued its flight unhindered. While the source of the gunfire has not yet been established, the Mission strongly condemned the attack, reminding all the parties of their responsibility for the safety of UN personnel in the DRC.