Ireland Aid announces funding of £100,000 to support democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ms Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights), has announced funding of IR£100,000 ( 126,974) for the Office of the Facilitator of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, with a view to advancing the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The goal of the dialogue is to promote democracy in the DRC, including through the holding of free and fair elections and the drafting of a new Constitution.
Announcing the funding, Minister of State O' Donnell stated that: "Furthering democratisation, respect for human rights and the rule of law is an essential part of Ireland's foreign policy. This funding will help the Facilitator of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, former Botswanan President Sir Ketumile Masire, to continue his work to consolidate peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ireland has a special affinity with Africa, and the provision of this funding is a concrete way in which we can demonstrate our support for, and commitment to, peace efforts on the continent."
Note for Editors
1. On 10 July 1999 the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was signed by six parties to the conflict in the DRC: the DRC itself, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Uganda and Rwanda. The Lusaka Agreement provides for an immediate cessation of hostilities, deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force, the holding of a national dialogue under the authority of a neutral facilitator, and the disarmament of militia groups.
2. The former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, has been appointed to facilitate the national dialogue (also known as the inter-Congolese dialogue), the goal of which is to create a new political dispensation for the DRC, including the holding of democratic elections and the drafting of a new Constitution.
The role of the Facilitator is to:
i) make the necessary contacts for the organisation of the Inter-Congolese political negotiations in an environment which will cater for the security of all participants;
ii) organise, in conjunction with the Congolese parties, consultations with a view to inviting all the major organisations and groups of the recognised representative political opposition as well as the main representatives of civil society;
iii) conduct, in accordance with the timetable, the discussions leading to the establishment of a new political dispensation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
iv) Recent events in the DRC have led to optimism regarding the possibility for peace. The new President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, has stated his intention to accept the authority of the Facilitator and met with Sir Ketumile for talks in Kinshasa on 18 March. There has also been progress on military disengagement. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1341 adopted on 22 February, the warring parties began to pull back 15 km from front lines on 15 March, a process which was due for completion by 29 March. The disengagement is being monitored by members of the UN monitoring mission in the DRC (MONUC). The next step will be for the parties to agree a timetable for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from the DRC.Top