UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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Source: OAU Addis Ababa
ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN UNITY ORGANISATION DE L' UNITE AFRICAINE
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE OAU, DR. SALIM AHMED SALIM - AT THE CONCLUSION OF CONSULTATIONS ON A NEUTRAL FACILITATOR FOR THE INTER-CONGOLESE DIALOGUE
According to the Lusaka Agreement signed by all the parties involved with the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Organization of African Unity, among other things, "shall assist the DRC in organizing the inter-Congolese political negotiations under the aegis of a neutral facilitator chosen by the Parties by virtue of his/her moral authority, his/her international credibility and his/her experience."
Since the signing of the Agreement, I have been involved in consultations with the Parties, with the objective of agreeing on a neutral facilitator. Throughout these consultations I have been conscious of the fact that the facilitator who is proposed has to be accepted by all the Parties.
My role as Secretary General of our Continental Organization was to facilitate consultations leading to such an agreement. I would like to point out that due to the critical role of the facilitator and because of the need for such a person to enjoy the confidence and cooperation of the Parties, I was careful to ensure that whoever is ultimately agreed upon, enjoys that support and confidence.
I should like also to mention that in all my efforts, I have been in constant contact with the leaders of the region, and especially with His Excellency, President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia who, as you know, is the overall coordinator of the peace process in the DRC and who in this particular exercise has been most helpful. In the last 8 weeks, the tempo of these consultations had increased. Thus on 20 November 1999, I convened a meeting of the Parties in Lusaka, Zambia. At this meeting, which was also attended by the Minister of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Zambia, Hon. Mr. Silwamba, I presented separately to the Parties a list of prospective names which I asked them to indicate their common agreement on a neutral facilitator. Subsequent to these consultations, I convened yesterday another meeting with the Parties and I started by having bilateral consultations with each of the Parties, namely: the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the RCD, the RCD-ML, and the MLC. And last night I had a plenary meeting with all the Parties present. Also attending was Hon. Mr. Silwamba, the Minister of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Zambia. From these meetings, I am happy to inform you that the Parties have agreed that the former President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. Sir Ketumile Masire should assume the role of the neutral facilitator for the inter-Congolese political negotiations.
This agreement among the Congolese Parties constitutes an important breakthrough in our efforts to implement the Lusaka Peace Agreement. More specifically, it creates the essential conditions for the inter-Congolese dialogue.
I have had informal discussions with Sir Kitumile Masire, and I have spoken to the President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. Festus Mogae on this issue. However, on the basis of yesterday's agreement I am now going to consult with both of them. I remain confident that this challenge of enormous importance to our Continent will be taken up accordingly.
It is my hope that the collective position of the Parties, which signifies their commitment to enter into dialogue as provided for in the Lusaka Agreement, will be a significant beginning in the realization of the objective for which we all aspire. I also hope that all the Parties to the conflict will treat this agreement as a catalyst, and will refrain from taking any action in the field that will not be conducive to the promotion of peaceful negotiations leading to a new dispensation.
At the same time, I hope that the international community will give the Lusaka Peace process the necessary support so that we can bring to an end the tragic conflict in the Congo.
ADDIS ABABA 15 DECEMBER 1999
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