Angola, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo and Sudan have signed on as members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, a United Nations-initiated summit that will try to resolve the many problems bedevilling Central Africa.
The inclusion of the four countries "will usher in a fresh dynamism to the process," Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative to the Great Lakes region Ibrahima Fall said today in Nairobi.
The first of the Conference's two summits on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region is slated to take place in the Tanzanian city of Dar-es-Salaam next month. Heads of State from across the region are expected to attend.
Proposed by Mr. Annan, established by the Security Council and co-sponsored by the African Union (AU), the Conference aims to foster agreement on enduring and mutually acceptable strategies for tackling the long-running problems in the Great Lakes. That vast area has been beset by conflict since most countries gained their independence, with many wars spilling over into, and destabilizing, neighbouring States.
The four additional members had already been involved in preliminary discussions for the Conference. Their new status means they can now fully participate at a major preparatory meeting in Kinshasa later this month.
The other members of the Conference are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.