02/02/2001
Press Release
sc/7006



Security Council

4271st Meeting (PM)


DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO PRESIDENT ASSURES COUNCIL

OF HIS COMMITMENT TO LUSAKA AGREEMENT


President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo told the Security Council this afternoon that he would examine ways and means of getting the Lusaka Agreement going again, together with his allies, while maintaining the sovereignty and unity of his country.


The Lusaka Agreement must be backed by binding mechanisms that punished parties who violated the ceasefire, he continued, and he called on the Council to look at a new, precise time frame for disengagement, deployment of United Nations troops, and for the unconditional withdrawal of foreign forces.


An end must be put to the illegal exploitation of the mineral resources of the Democratic Republic, which were being used to finance the conflict by aggressor countries, he added.


President Kabila urged all his Congolese brothers, regardless of their origins and views and including those who had taken up arms, to sit around the table with him to talk about peace, and rebuilding the country.  He appealed to the international community to support the Congolese people as they moved towards national dialogue and reconfirmed his commitment to cooperate closely with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), so that it could discharge its mandate effectively and help restore peace.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Lusaka Agreement, signed in July and August 1999 by six States and three rebel movements, had yet to be translated into action.  In the last two weeks, however, MONUC had reported almost no ceasefire violations throughout the country.  That was surely a moment of opportunity, he said, which must be seized by the people of the Democratic Republic and all who wished them well.  The time was ripe for a resolute effort to implement the Agreement, and to start a genuine dialogue among all Congolese on the future of their country.


“The commitment to peace we have observed on the part of the new Government is welcome for many reasons”, he said.  A cessation of hostilities would permit humanitarian agencies to gain access to populations in need.  Greater attention could be paid to human rights and the rights of children, including the rights of child soldiers, once the fighting had stopped.  He assured President Kabila of the full support of the international community for his efforts to restore peace and ensure a democratic future for his country.


Council members conveyed condolences to President Kabila and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the death of his father, Laurent Kabila.  They emphasized that implementation of the provisions of the Lusaka Agreement and of Council resolutions by all parties was the only path to peace.  There could be no peace as long as foreign forces remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several members stated.


President Kabila was urged to relaunch the inter-Congolese dialogue and to cooperate fully with the neutral facilitator appointed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  The MONUC could only deploy and carry out its role in parallel with the implementation by the parties of the peace process.  Free access and security must be provided for MONUC, as well as for humanitarian agencies.


All 15 members of the Council -- United States, France, Bangladesh, Mali, United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Colombia, Mauritius, Ukraine, Norway, Jamaica, Russian Federation, Singapore and Tunisia -- spoke. 


The meeting, which started at 3:10 p.m., was adjourned at 5:25 p.m.


Council Work Programme


When the Security Council met this afternoon, it was expected to hear from the newly appointed President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila.


Background


On 10 July 1999 in Lusaka, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, signed the Ceasefire Agreement.


The Lusaka Agreement included provisions on the normalization of the situation along the Democratic Republic's border, the control of illicit trafficking of arms and the infiltration of armed groups; the holding of a national dialogue; the need to address security concerns; and the establishment of a mechanism for disarming militias and armed groups.  It also provided for a Joint Military Commission (JMC).


The Council, by its resolution 1258 of 6 August 1999, authorized the deployment of up to 90 United Nations military liaison personnel, along with necessary civilian staff.  By its resolution 1279 of 30 November 2000, the Council decided that the previously authorized personnel would constitute the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).


On 24 February 2000, the Council, by its resolution 1291, decided to extend the mandate of MONUC until 31 August 2000 and authorized expansion of the Mission up to 5,537 military personnel, including up to 500 observers and appropriate civilian support staff in the areas of, among others, human rights, humanitarian affairs, public information, child protection, political affairs, medical support and administrative support.  The mandate of MONUC has been extended by Council resolutions 1316 (2000), 1323 (2000) and 1332 (2000).  The current mandate ends on 15 June 2001.


SAÏD BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia), President of the Security Council, said he appreciated the initiative of President Kabila to visit the United Nations on his first trip outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Members of the Council attached great importance to the meeting, he said.  He wished President Kabila every success in the noble purpose of achieving peace, stability and prosperity for his country.


Since the signing of the Lusaka Accord, there had been many difficulties.  Foreign troops had not withdrawn and the national dialogue was delayed, he said.  All that time, the suffering of the Congolese people had continued.  The Council had adopted a number of resolutions concerning the matter, such as resolution 1304 (2000).  The Accord remained the most appropriate framework to reach an end to the dispute.  He paid tribute to the role played by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and noted that President Kabila had paid tribute to the Accord, had underscored his commitment to cooperate with the OAU, and had stated his support for the United Nations.


The Council had always respected the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.  The Council was fully supportive of efforts to move the peace process forward.  Members of the Council looked forward to reviving the peace process and hoped to help the aspirations of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo be achieved.


Statement by Secretary-General


Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN welcomed President Kabila and congratulated him on his inauguration last week as head of State of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He said he had already had the opportunity of expressing to President Kabila his sincere condolences on the loss of his father.


The Lusaka Agreement, signed in July and August 1999 by six States and three rebel movements, had yet to be translated into action, he continued.  But, for the last two weeks, MONUC had reported almost no ceasefire violations throughout the country.  “This was surely a moment of opportunity”, he said, which must be seized by the people of the Democratic Republic and all who wished them well.  The time appeared ripe for a resolute effort to implement the Lusaka Agreement, and to start a genuine dialogue among all Congolese on the future of their country.


He said he hoped all the governments concerned, and all their military commanders, would take the necessary measures to ensure that the ceasefire continued.  Any regional initiative aimed at achieving that objective deserved support.  Once a ceasefire had been definitely established, the parties could proceed to carry out the disengagement of forces they agreed to in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 6 December.  Within the limits of its current resources, MONUC had already begun to take the measures necessary to support such a disengagement.


The Secretary-General said that in a forthcoming report to the Security Council, he would propose elements of a revised concept of operations enabling MONUC to deploy more fully in support of the disengagement plan.  He asked the Council to consider that concept and to fully adopt it.


He said peace and stability would not return to the Democratic Republic and its neighbours unless and until all Congolese parties were engaged in a meaningful dialogue to decide how their country was to be governed.  That required the new Government to show a strong commitment to peaceful negotiation, notably by taking steps to liberalize the political climate in the country.  He trusted that the new Government was prepared top work with Sir Ketumile Masire, the neutral facilitator appointed under the Lusaka Agreement.  Any support that could be provided by other heads of State in the subregion would surely also be welcome, he said.


The Secretary-General recalled that the Security Council, by its resolution 1304 of June 2000, demanded the withdrawal of Ugandan and Rwandan forces from the city of Kisangani and, in comformity with the timetable of the Ceasefire Agreement and with the Kampala disengagement plan of 8 April, from the Democratic Republic.  He looked forward to the early withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic, as provided by the Lusaka Agreement.


“The commitment to peace we have observed on the part of the new Government is welcome for many reasons”, he said.  A cessation of hostilities would permit humanitarian agencies to gain access to populations in need.  Greater attention could be paid to human rights and the rights of children, including the rights of child soldiers, once the fighting had stopped.  He assured President Kabila of the full support of the international community in his efforts to restore peace and ensure a democratic future for his country.


Statements


JOSEPH KABILA, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he felt honoured to speak in the Council for the first time.  He remembered the historic day -- 24 January 2000 -- when President Laurent Kabila, on the basis of resolution 1284 (1999), had called for a withdrawal from his territory of the armies of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.  A year later, the situation had not really changed, he said.  On the contrary, the conflict had now lasted more than three years, and the casualties had been heavy; over 1.7 million in the eastern part of the country, according to a report from the International Rescue Committee.  The illegal exploitation of the mineral resources of the Democratic Republic, used for financing the conflict by the aggressor countries, had been devastating.  An end must be put to that illegal exploitation.  His Government assured the Council that it would cooperate fully with the ad hoc panel.  He hoped the panel would submit a full report on the situation in March. 


His Government had often spoken to the Security Council of his people’s deep-seated yearning for peace, he said.  That was why he had decided to work for a dialogue and reconciliation.  He called on Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to become good neighbours again, and to cooperate fully, for the sake of progress in Africa.  Together with his allies, he would examine ways and means of getting the Lusaka Agreement going again, while maintaining sovereignty and unity in the Democratic Republic.  In order to be effective, the Agreement must be backed by binding mechanisms that punished parties that violated the ceasefire.  He called on the Council to look at a new, precise time frame, including for disengagement, for deployment of United Nations troops, for the unconditional withdrawal of uninvited forces, and finally for the withdrawal of forces invited.  He hoped they would consider this in February.


He urged all his Congolese brothers, regardless of their origins and views and including those who had taken up arms, to sit around the table with him to talk about peace, to talk about the urgent need for his country to rebuild and to lay the foundation for sustainable development.  He addressed an urgent appeal to the international community to support the people of his country as they moved towards national dialogue.  That dialogue must be undertaken without interference.  The Government had been active in support of the Burundi peace process. A solution to the crisis in Burundi was an inseparable element of the solution of the crisis in the Congo.  The same applied to democratization in Uganda and Rwanda.  National consensus in all these countries was a prerequisite for stability in the region, he said.


This month, the Council would make a decision for phase 2 of the MONUC deployment, he said.  He reconfirmed the commitment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate closely with the United Nations mission, so that it could discharge its mandate effectively and help restore peace.  He believed the Council would stand by its commitment to swiftly deploy its forces, and welcomed the mutual understanding between MONUC and his Government. 


In conclusion, he said his Government had decided to continue trying to rebuild a country that had suffered too much.  He wanted to bring together all the Congolese, while respecting the differences among them.  “We must also meet the deepest yearnings of our people for a better quality of life”, he said.  Once peace had been restored, his work would involve preparing for free and transparent elections.  He believed that peaceful settlement of disputes and equal rights were the very basis of freedom, justice and peace in the world.  “This is a Congolese approach -- which will lead to the restoration of peace in the Great Lakes region”, he said.


JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that his country was deeply moved that, in his time of grief, President Kabila had reassured the Congolese people and the international community of his commitment to move ahead with the peace process.


The United States had some messages for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:  the United Nations was and would remain a friend of the Democratic Republic whether in the field of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief or development.  It welcomed President Kabila’s clear reaffirmation of his Government’s commitment to the successful implementation of the peace process, and his pledge to continue and intensify cooperation with MONUC.


The United States supported the Lusaka peace process and urged all the signatories to ensure that peace finally comes to the Democratic Republic, he said.  Finally, and most importantly, now was the time for action.  The United States wanted MONUC to deploy and for peace to succeed.  For that to happen, an operational plan for disengagement of forces and their redeployment was required.  The parties must create and sustain the conditions needed for further MONUC operations.  That included the provision of assurances for the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and related personnel, he added.


He said the Democratic Republic of the Congo had a right under the Charter to demand that uninvited foreign forces departed its territory.  The Governments of Rwanda and Uganda had a right under the Charter to demand that Congolese territory was not used as a launching pad for attacks against their countries.


The governments of the region needed to work together to bring about what they, and the entire region, needed -– a stable and secure Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The United States’ support for democratic development within the Democratic Republic was based on the belief that democracy and long-term stability were inseparable.  It also believed that the best means to delegitimize armed opposition was to allow unarmed political opposition to flourish.  The United States hoped for early progress in re-engaging the OAU-appointed facilitation and that the dialogue could begin.  It continued to believe that Sir Ketumile Masire, former head of State of Botswana, could fulfil his mandate, and it hoped that he would reach out to the parties in a spirit of compromise and democracy for which his country was well known.


The critical short-term task remained a fully effective ceasefire and the disengagement of forces, he said.  The United States would support deployment of United Nations personnel as soon as conditions permitted and looked forward to the advice of the Secretary-General on that matter.


YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said President Kabila’s decision to come to New York was significant and encouraging, and reflected his desire for a real relationship of trust and partnership between the United Nations and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In his statement, the President had confirmed a commitment to dialogue and reconciliation.  His commitment to peace and the restoration of sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the implementation of the Lusaka Accords was also encouraging.


The role of the international community was to encourage that path of peace and dialogue, he said.  The international community must encourage the other signatories to the Agreement to respond without delay.  It was essential that all parties implement their commitments to the Lusaka Agreement, which include the withdrawal of foreign armed forces from the Democratic Republic, particularly uninvited forces.  The plundering of the natural resources of that country must come to an end.  Those who conduct such activities should be condemned by the international community.


The withdrawal of foreign forces must be accompanied by a rapid deployment of MONUC.  The parties must ensure the freedom of movement and the security of MONUC forces.  The national dialogue must be restored and be open to all without preconditions.  He was encouraged that the President continued the dialogue with Burundi.  Today’s meeting would inaugurate a series of meetings, and offered an opportunity to relaunch the peace process.


ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s demand for immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Congolese territory was a legitimate one.  The Security Council had also been making the same demand, including in its last resolution 1332 of 14 December 2000.


He welcomed President Kabila’s commitment to pursue peace by political and diplomatic means.  Bangladesh had been unequivocal in its affirmation of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic.  The time had come for all the parties to conclude that the conflict could not be solved by military means.


The Lusaka Agreement provided for a workable compromise for all the parties, he said, and he urged the leadership in the region, as well as the rebel movements, to take a pragmatic approach towards the peace process.


For the Council to decide on full deployment of the authorized strength of MONUC, he would want to see some real progress on the ground.  For that to take place, he said, the parties would have to demonstrate their commitment to effective withdrawal, as per the Kampala Disengagement Plan and the Harare sub-plan.  He called upon the Government to revive the inter-Congolese dialogue for national reconciliation.


He said a peaceful, united and prosperous Democratic Republic would be in the best interest of all the people of the region, and the Security Council, as well as the rest of the international community, would stand behind them in their efforts. 


MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) stressed his country’s support for the search for peaceful settlement of the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict, and welcomed President Kabila’s commitment to dialogue and national reconciliation.  It supported the appeal of the country’s neighbours and civil society for resolution of the conflict.  He said the basis for a solution of the conflict was the full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, whose relaunching was vital.  He called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to re-examine the ceasefire to restore peace.


Mali encouraged OAU Secretary-General Salim Salim and President Chiluba of Zambia to continue their efforts for the achievement of peace in the Democratic Republic.  It supported the appeal to signatories of the Lusaka Agreement to reiterate their support for that Agreement, and for the implementation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 1332 which called for the withdrawal of foreign forces.


He said the Security Council must resolutely support efforts to resolve the conflict, and Mali would do its share towards that end.


Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his country valued highly the opportunity to have today’s discussion.  There were three key areas to address.  On the military side, he welcomed the general restraint shown by all the parties in recent days.  That needed to be sustained. It was essential for the parties to be in contact and to get back to work on disengagement and withdrawal plans and setting a realistic timetable. 


He said the Council insisted on a political solution to the conflict.  That was only possible if credible progress was made in creating a political framework that would give a voice to all Congolese people.  He encouraged the Congolese authorities to re-engage with the OAU-appointed facilitator.  “You have the most important role to play, Sir, not just in moving forward dialogue among the Congolese people, but much more generally in creating an atmosphere that will allow truly open and representative dialogue to flourish”, he addressed President Kabila.


He said it might be useful to explore a multi-donor mission to assess the humanitarian situation across the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  That would give a much better understanding of the scale of the problem, and the level and kind of assistance needed.  The United Nations had been in limbo for far too long, he said.  The MONUC could only deploy and carry out its role in parallel with the implementation by the parties of the peace process.  Free access and security must be provided for MONUC, as well as for humanitarian agencies.  The Council wanted to move forward, but could only do so when the Secretary-General was satisfied that the conditions were right and would allow the United Nations to play a useful role.  That depended on forward movement by the parties, he said.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said that out of the recent tragedy had come an opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict.  He urged each party, therefore, to engender the confidence of the other parties, and to seize the opportunity for a sustained process.


The Lusaka Agreement offered by far the best way forward, he said.  No party should attempt to manipulate it in their own interest.  All Congolese must move towards the national dialogue in order to form a national, representative government.  He urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities to swiftly contact the facilitator.  Full withdrawal of all foreign forces and disarmament of all armed groups was an absolute priority.  He welcomed the President’s commitment to work closely with MONUC to enable it to discharge its mandate.  The European Union had said that lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was only possible through a negotiated peace settlement which was fair to all parties, and which took into account security interests of the Democratic Republic and all countries in the region.  Commitments to human rights and justice were also important.


The presence of President Kabila today was a signal of his commitment to the process.  The international community had repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to help the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.


SHEN GUOFANG (China) said his Government welcomed President Kabila’s presence and the important statement he had made.  It demonstrated the sincerity of President Kabila’s Government to move forward with the peace process in his country.  He said the peace process was at a critical juncture, and it was imperative that the opportunity was seized to move it forward.  China highly appreciated the commitment of President Kabila to move ahead with the inter-Congolese dialogue.


He said it was up to the Congolese people to determine the final solution of their problems.  China expected them to return to the conference table to resolve their problems, adding that the United Nations had a role to play in that effort.  That role, and that of the Security Council in particular, should be reflected in the sovereign effort of the Democratic Republic’s Government.


Pushing forward the peace process required the relentless efforts of all, including the United Nations, he said.  China looked forward to the parties taking courageous steps to break the impasse in the peace process.  China supported the efforts of regional organizations and respected the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said President Kabila’s statement was of great significance to peace in the world, and reflected a commitment to peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


Colombia wished to work for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic, and demanded that all parties to the Lusaka Agreement fulfil their obligations, including by withdrawing foreign troops, conducting political dialogue leading to free elections, and respecting human rights and international humanitarian law.  The MONUC must be guaranteed freedom and movement and logistical support.


Peace in the Democratic Republic was a commitment the Council had assumed, he said.  It had assured this commitment for human kind, for the people of the Congo and for the people of Africa. 


ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) believed President Kabila had the right vision to achieve the goal of peace and security, within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The inter-Congolese dialogue, an essential and integral part of the Lusaka Agreement, had unfortunately not yet gotten off the ground, with the result that there was an stagnation of the Lusaka process.  He was confident that President Joseph Kabila would do everything necessary for the inter-Congolese dialogue to begin without delay.

He urged all parties to the Lusaka Agreement to recommit themselves to implement it in all its aspects and to comply with all its provisions.  He had no doubt about the commitment of both Rwanda and Uganda to the full and early implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, and welcomed the meeting between President Kagame and President Kabila.  Such bilateral meetings would help to build confidence for the peace process.  He urged Rwanda and Uganda to take steps to implement the disengagement plans signed in Harare a few weeks ago.  That important step should mark the beginning of the process of withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


There was no question that the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation was necessary for the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.  President Kabila had stated his clear intention to move the peace process forward.  There were also assurances in that regard from the other concerned capitals.  The United Nations must fulfil its responsibility and deploy the long-awaited peacekeeping operation without any further delay, in accordance with Council resolutions 1291 and 1332.


VALERI P. KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the most sensitive in Africa.  The situation was much favourable now than it had ever been before for a resolution due to the efforts of President Kabila.  Leaders of the region were now willing to search for ways to expand the peace process.  He said President Kabila, in his speeches since assuming office, had stressed the need for transparency and constructive dialogue with all the parties.  The inter-Congolese dialogue was key to the peace process, and efforts must be made towards its achievement.


He called for the withdrawal of foreign forces.  The basis for continued movement towards a resolution to the conflict should be the Lusaka Agreement, and the Harare and the other dialogues.  The parties should do their best to fully implement the Lusaka Agreement.  He reiterated Ukraine’s support for a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic.


He stressed the importance of the withdrawal of foreign forces, disarmament, the inter-Congolese dialogue, the safe return of all refugees, and the need to ensure the security of Uganda and Rwanda.  His country was sure the Democratic Republic conflict could be resolved through dialogue. 


OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said full commitment to peaceful negotiations remained indispensable in the search for a lasting solution of the conflict in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He encouraged President Kabila to cooperate fully with MONUC and facilitate its full deployment.  All parties involved in the conflict must exercise restraint and comply with the provisions of relevant Council resolutions.


He said Norway wished to emphasize the need for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based on schedules drawn up by the United Nations, the OAU and the Joint Military Commission; the disarmament and demobilization of armed groups; and the subsequent safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons.  He urged all parties, and all ethnic and armed groups, to cease acts of violence against civilians, to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure the safety and security of all international personnel.

The effort to rebuild a peaceful and democratic Democratic Republic of the Congo must take due account of the ongoing illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the country.  The active and constructive involvement of African leaders was crucial for the achievement of a comprehensive and sustainable peace in the region, he said.


M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her country was heartened by President Kabila’s recent diplomatic initiatives, both regionally and internationally, aimed at relaunching the peace process.  Jamaica encouraged him to also continue to extend goodwill to all parties -- which was necessary at this time.  Those gestures would no doubt build the confidence that was critical to securing sustainable peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region.


She said it was vitally important for conditions for lasting peace to be created, based on the full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.  The elements of such a peace must include the security of the borders of the States concerned, the protection of their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and their full enjoyment of their own natural resources.  In that connection, Jamaica supported the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and reaffirmed its support for the unity, stability and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in accordance with the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter and that of the OAU.  It called on all the parties to fully respect the Kampala and Arusha Agreements, which were signed last year.  She encouraged President Kabila to reassess how best his Government could continue to be fully engaged in the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, as that remained the most viable option for sustainable peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in the Great Lakes region.


Jamaica fully supported the pursuit of inter-Congolese dialogue and hoped there would be cooperation from all the parties for President Kabila’s initiative to resume national dialogue.  Noting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government had renewed its pledge of support for the rapid deployment of MONUC, she emphasized that all parties must provide credible security guarantees to enable MUNOC to fulfil its mandate.  She was disturbed by frequent reports of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic, and said the only way to permanently alleviate that situation was for a comprehensive peace settlement to be finalized.


SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) wished the President success in his high office at this very difficult time.  The Russian Federation supported a political settlement on the basis of the Lusaka Agreement.  In its resolutions concerning the matter, the Council had sent the parties to the conflict a signal about the need for the cessation of hostilities.  He hoped that the recent tragic events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would not jeopardize peace, and called on all parties to resist temptation to take advantage of the situation. 


All parties must cooperate fully with MONUC, he said.  He attached great importance to the relaunching of the inter-Congolese dialogue and welcomed President Kabila’s declaration that he was committed to the goal of national reconciliation.  This month, there would be a review of the implementation of commitments to the Agreement by all parties.  That review would help the Council in deciding about phase II of MONUC.


KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that despite recent setbacks, there was a window of opportunity to relaunch the peace process.  He hoped that today’s session would mark the start of a productive dialogue between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Council.  He was encouraged to hear that President Joseph Kabila had already said his Government would extend its full cooperation to the United Nations and that it attached great importance to implementing the Lusaka Agreement and relevant Council resolutions.


In order for MONUC to carry out its mandate, he urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take several concrete steps, such as granting the Mission complete freedom of movement.  He encouraged President Kabila and his Government to cooperate fully with the neutral facilitator in the inter-Congolese dialogue, which was a key element for the restoration of the rule of law, democracy and the national sovereignty.  If successfully carried out, it could significantly change the climate in the Democratic Republic.  All parties must comply fully with Lusaka Agreement and Council resolutions.  And there would be no peace as long as foreign forces remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


The search for peace was also part of a wider goal:  peace and stability in the Great Lakes region, he said.  He encouraged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to continue the process of rapprochement with Burundi.  The future of the Democratic Republic was inextricably linked to stability in the subregion, he said.


Mr. BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said his country insisted on the need for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for its sovereignty over its natural resources.  The Congolese people had suffered, and they looked forward to support and solidarity from the international community.  He said Tunisia stood behind them.  Now was the time for a political settlement to the conflict.  The Lusaka Agreement was the best framework for a solution.


Tunisia would support efforts at national reconciliation and dialogue inside the country, he said.  The parties to the conflict, as well as neighbouring States, must take practical steps for peace.  The time had come for all the parties to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions and the Lusaka Agreement, and for the deployment of MONUC.


The critical situation in the Democratic Republic and in the region necessitated the help of the international community for durable peace to be achieved in the region and in the entire African continent.  Tunisia congratulated President Kabila for his efforts to lead his people to peace and security.


Mr. KABILA, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in closing remarks, thanked all those who had expressed their condolences to him and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and all those who had encouraged the Democratic Republic to stay on the track it had chosen:  the road to peace.


He reminded the Council that its members’ unwavering support was needed to accomplish peace.  He reaffirmed his commitment and that of the Government to that purpose.  The final objective was the democratization of political life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  That would only come about if the forces that

had invaded the Congo were forced to get out of his country, so that it could   re-attain its national territorial integrity.


He said that all good words would not erase the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was under foreign occupation.  That occupation should end as soon as possible.


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