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Annan 'pleased' at agreement on DR of Congo, warns against continued fighting

Annan 'pleased' at agreement on DR of Congo, warns against continued fighting

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said he was pleased to learn that the parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue reached agreement on all outstanding issues relating to the draft transitional constitution, but warned that recent power struggles in part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could result in a new round of inter-ethnic violence.

"Mr. Annan commended the Congolese parties for the spirit of cooperation and compromise they showed in the interest of peace and stability in their country," spokesman Fred Eckhard said, referring to the agreement reached yesterday in Pretoria, South Africa, on outstanding concerns, as well as military and security issues.

"He encourages the parties to cooperate fully with the efforts of Facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire, to convene the formal session of the inter-Congolese dialogue as soon as possible in order to ratify the agreement and establish the transitional institutions, including the Government of national unity, without further delay," the spokesman said.

The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to the Government of South Africa for the critical role it played in cooperation with his Special Envoy, Mustapha Niasse, to help the parties reach agreement on the transitional arrangements. Mr Annan also "commended the efforts of his Special Envoy and his team for helping steer the negotiations to a successful conclusion," the spokesman said.

The United Nations, particularly the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), stands ready to continue to work closely with the Congolese parties in implementing the all-inclusive power-sharing agreement signed last December, Mr. Eckhard added.

At the same time, the spokesman said the Secretary-General is "deeply concerned" by the heavy fighting over the control of Bunia which took place recently and the threat it poses to the civilian populations, who have already paid an unacceptably high price in the many years of the conflict. "It is extremely disquieting that the fighting could result in a new round of inter-ethnic violence and massacres," Mr. Eckhard said.

The Secretary-General strongly urged all the parties to cease hostilities immediately and stop any acts of violence against civilians and humanitarian personnel, the spokesman said. "The belligerents should be reminded that the pursuit of the military option and human rights violations on any level are unacceptable."