ASSEMBLY TAKES UP ARMED AGGRESSION AGAINST DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
ASSEMBLY TAKES UP ARMED AGGRESSION AGAINST DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
ASSEMBLY TAKES UP ARMED AGGRESSION AGAINST DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO19990323
It was clear that what was being presented as an internal insurrection in his country was a gross facade to conceal the destabilizing efforts of neighbouring countries, the representative of Democratic Republic of the Congo told the General Assembly this afternoon as it met to consider armed aggression against that country.
The Democratic Republic, he stressed, was the victim of aggression by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. So far, any solutions to the crisis came up against falsification of socio-political realities and many aggressor troops were in Congolese territory under the pretext of protecting their frontiers.
Amama Mbabazi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Uganda, said his country had neither been an aggressor to the Democratic Republic of the Congo nor was it responsible for the current crisis there as was alleged. Due to Congolese political contradictions -- the rebellion of 2 August 1998 -- President Kabila's immediate reaction was to look for foreign military assistance. Interventions were then made on the pretext that the Democratic Republic had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda.
The representative of Rwanda, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that one of the causes of the conflict was the Congolese leadership's failure to work with Uganda and Rwanda to deal with their security concerns. President Kabila bore all the blame for trying to destabilize his neighbours. The international community had to convince him to accept a negotiated ceasefire agreement. Rwanda would continue to act to defend its population, especially against genocide.
There was no contradiction between the efforts of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), with regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which complemented each other, said the representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the OAU. Since the United Nations had logistical resources, it was desired that they would have a greater
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involvement in the settlement of the Congolese question. The OAU supported the deployment of peacekeeping troops in the area.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Angola, Malaysia, Namibia and South Africa.
The Assembly began the meeting by paying tribute to the memory of the late Amir of Bahrain, Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, who passed away on 6 March. Statements were made by the representatives of Tunisia (on behalf of the African States), Qatar (on behalf of the Asian States), Ukraine (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Guyana (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), Denmark (on behalf of the Western European and Other States), United States (as host country), and Bahrain.
Also this afternoon, the Assembly decided to invite the Customs Cooperation Council to participate in the Assembly's sessions and work in the capacity of observer. It took that action as it adopted, without a vote, a resolution introduced by the representative of Chile. The representative of the Customs Cooperation Council made a statement.
In other action, the Assembly, upon a request by the Secretary-General, decided to reopen consideration of the item entitled "Human rights questions", and allocated it to the plenary.
Further, the Assembly President, Didier Opertti (Uruguay), informed delegations that his proposals regarding the closing date of the fifty-third session and the opening date of the fifty-fourth session would be issued in the form of a draft resolution on Friday, 26 March, for consideration by the Assembly early next week.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 24 March, to continue its consideration of armed aggression in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider: the adoption of the agenda and organization of work; strengthening of the United Nations system; observer status for the Customs Cooperation Council in the Assembly; and armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Regarding the adoption of the agenda and organization of work, the Assembly had before it a letter dated 12 March from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Assembly concerning experts for Cambodia (document A/53/862). In resolution 52/135 of 12 December 1997, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Group of Experts for Cambodia, the report of which has now been submitted. Accordingly, he requests the Assembly to reopen agenda item 110 entitled "Human rights questions", so that it might consider the report.
In connection with observer status for the Customs Cooperation Council, the Assembly had before it a draft resolution (document A/53/L.75). By its terms, the Assembly, wishing to promote cooperation between the United Nations and the Council, would decide to invite the Customs Cooperation Council to participate in the Assembly's sessions in the capacity of observer. Also, it would request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement the resolution.
Statements in Tribute to Amir of Bahrain
The President of the General Assembly, Didier Opertti (Uruguay), paid tribute to Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Amir of Bahrain, who had passed away on 6 March. On behalf of the Assembly, he requested the representative of Bahrain to convey the Assembly's condolences to the Government and people of Bahrain and to the bereaved family of the late Amir.
The Assembly then stood and observed a minute of silence in tribute to the late Amir.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the African States, paid tribute to the passing away of a great man, who had passed away at the peak of his activities and whose wisdom and kindness were well known. The Amir had devoted his life to building a modern Bahrain and made it a symbol of stability in the region. The Amir had been an effective element in the pursuit of security and cooperation. Africa greatly appreciated the strong ties with all Arab countries, including Bahrain, and the Amir's death was a great loss to the whole world.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Asian States, expressed condolences and deep sympathy on the death of the Amir. He also expressed condolences to the Government and people of Bahrain and the
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family. The Shaikh constantly sought peace and stability in the Gulf and the Middle East region. His loss was irreparable. He hoped his successor, Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa, would follow his father and bear aloft the standards of the Asian Group.
VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine), speaking on behalf of the Eastern European States, recalled that the Amir had been an exemplary leader and an outstanding personality. It was due to his efforts that Bahrain had achieved great success in its economy. He extended sincere condolences to the royal family and the people of Bahrain. Also, he expressed the hope that the new head of State would follow his father's example in working for the well-being of Bahrain.
SAMUEL R. INSANALLY (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the Amir's passing represented a milestone in Bahrain's history. His rule, which spanned almost four decades, involved vast changes, which brought Bahrain to its current status in the region. Bahrain's prosperity was by no means a small achievement. He asked Bahrain's permanent representative to convey his condolences to the royal family and the authorities of that country.
JORGEN BOJER (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Western European and Other States, offered condolences to the people of Bahrain and family of the deceased. The Amir had been a prominent force who had transformed the country into a modern society, without losing its age-old cultures and traditions. He had also helped to secure stability and a prosperous development for Bahrain. The country was a strong partner today, which had demonstrated courage and security in its work for peace and security. The legacy of the Amir was now entrusted to his son and successor, Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa, and the international community was confident that he would govern with the same justice as his father.
A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States), speaking on behalf of the host country, said the Amir was a dear friend of the United States. He had known the Shaikh personally and as a junior diplomat had benefited from the Amir's wisdom and kindness. The Shaikh had shared that wisdom and kindness with everyone. President William Clinton of the United States said that he had taken heart in the Shaikh's dedication to furthering the cause of peace. The Shaikh's wisdom and devotion to his people were well known in the region and beyond.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that he wanted to thank the Assembly for observing a moment of silence in memory of the passing of Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa. He highly appreciated the expressions of tribute of the various regional groups, which reflected the international status the Amir had occupied. Indeed, on 6 March, Bahrain lost one of its greatest
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leaders, perhaps its greatest. The Amir had set up plans for the modernization of his country, plans which were characterized by openness.
The Shaikh was one of the supporters for regional cooperation and had agreed to Bahrain's membership in numerous regional and international bodies, he continued. He had always believed in dialogue for resolving disputes and advocated the path of peace. One of his characteristics was to meet with people to solve their problems. He had preferred that direct method in dealing with people. He was very close to his people, which made his death quite unbelievable. His country's consolation was that, after the Shaikh, it had men who were carrying on with his path for peace and security.
Customs Cooperation Council
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) introduced the draft concerning observer status for the Customs Cooperation Council in the General Assembly (document A/53/L.75).
The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.
DOUGLAS TWEDDLE, Observer of the Customs Cooperation Council, said there was an awareness of the important significance of the status granted today. The action today represented a starting point from where customs action could be strengthened around the world. His organization was the only one to deal exclusively with customs issues. Due to its contribution, international trade had increased 14 times since the inception of the Customs Cooperation Council.
Modern transport and information had helped to increase the profits of international crime, he continued. Customs had to improve its approach and its equipment to combat international transnational crime. The smuggling of firearms, intellectual property and nuclear material were just some of the current issues. Seventy-five per cent of all drug seizures were made by customs. A global and multidisciplinary approach was necessary to defeat the complex entity that was transnational crime. It was crucial to coordinate all law enforcement efforts to realize common objectives.
Democratic Republic of Congo
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso), speaking on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that a few days ago the Security Council had devoted a plenary debate to the peaceful settlement of the dispute in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today, the General Assembly had decided to examine the issue. The two debates were clear evidence of the importance and the urgency of the matter.
The OAU was pleased with the attention given to African problems, he continued. It was satisfied that the mark of interest came as a supplement to the United Nations efforts already in the continent. It was deplorable to see
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the conflict that was shaking the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The OAU considered all its members on equal footing and wished to preserve solidarity among them. Under its principles, the OAU promoted understanding, solidarity and good neighbourliness, and gave preference to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
From the beginning of the crisis, the pan-African organization had tried to create an atmosphere for peace, he said. Initiatives had been taken, which had been pursued in the subregional framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Democratic Republic of the Congo had described as aggression the acts committed against it by its neighbours, but its neighbours had not considered it so. The frontiers that had been inherited were and remained intangible. The OAU had recalled that fact on many occasions. Those frontiers were irrevocable. All were conscious that African States were built on artificial lines. The States had to put up with them, with the threat of pervasive instability.
As had been said in the Security Council, there was no contradiction between the efforts of the United Nations and the OAU, which complemented each other, he said. Since the United Nations had logistical resources, it was desired that they have a greater involvement in the settlement of the Congolese question. The OAU supported the deployment of peacekeeping troops in the area and the French proposal to hold a peace conference was also of interest. He welcomed the desire shown by the Democratic Republic's Government for openness towards the internal opposition. However, good intentions could not take effect until there was a ceasefire, signed in the proper form and to which all parties would adhere. He hoped that the appeal would be heard so that peace would return to the Democratic Republic and to the entire region.
ANDRÉ MWAMBA KAPANGA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said it was true that today's session was being held within three days of the one held by the Security Council to debate a peaceful solution to the problem of his country. His Government had deemed it fit to bring the matter before the Council in an effort to add impetus to current negotiations for peace. His Government also wanted to illuminate the genuine motives behind the armed aggression that was presently tearing his country apart. There was an urgent need for peace and security. The concern was to bring about an understanding of the salient points that were contributing to the conflict. However, despite concessions made by his Government, the process and negotiations had not led to a ceasefire, he noted.
He said the Secretary-General's global approach in his report on the causes of conflict in Africa to the Council deserved to be further enriched by the lessons learned by certain States that had been victims of aggression. His country was a victim of aggression by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Many of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's frontiers were shared with aggressor
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countries. Since the assumption of the leadership of his country by President Laurent Kabila, the Congolese had sought peace. He cited the initiative by President Kabila and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to organize a regional conference on peace and development in the Great Lakes region as an example.
It was important to realize that instability in the Great Lakes region was essentially due to intolerance in all forms, he added. Any solutions came up against falsification of socio-political realities. Many aggressor troops were in Congolese territory under the pretext of protecting their frontiers, he said.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a victim of the Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda coalition, he continued. What was being presented as an internal insurrection was a gross façade to conceal the destabilizing efforts of neighbouring countries. The entry of Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan troops into Congolese territory was a violation of his country's sovereignty and territorial rights and also a violation of relevant United Nations resolutions and international humanitarian law. The war in his country was not a civil war as was claimed but an act of armed aggression by the three-country coalition.
The SADC and the OAU had organized meetings to address the conflict, he said. Many efforts had been made to find an effective solution, but none had borne fruit. The effective involvement of the international community in support of the praiseworthy regional efforts would in no way impede those efforts.
DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus. He said that due to a complex set of strategic alliances, a series of previously unconnected conflicts in the Great Lakes region had blended into one huge crisis, which had turned the Democratic Republic of the Congo and parts of the territories of neighbouring countries into a battleground. The Union strongly condemned acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population since the beginning of the crisis. He called for an independent investigation of allegations of major human rights violations reportedly committed by all parties in the conflict. Further, the Union strongly condemned the recruitment and use of child soldiers and combatants and urged all parties to abstain from that practice. He also urged all parties to refrain from laying landmines.
The current conflict could only be solved through a negotiated settlement among all the parties concerned, leading to the withdrawal of foreign troops and allowing the Democratic Republic and other countries in the region to find peace, stability and democracy, he said. It was crucial that all warring parties show their unconditional willingness, through concrete
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steps, to speed up the peace process. The political process must rest on two elements, which would address: regional security problems, by finding a mechanism that met the legitimate security concerns of neighbouring countries; and the internal situation in the Democratic Republic, by initiating an all-inclusive political dialogue to establish a democratic society.
The Union emphasized the need for a continuous and inclusive negotiating process with a format that allowed the active participation of all the major stakeholders, he said. It also emphasized the need to address the question of the proliferation of arms and the illicit trafficking of commodities in the region. The Union would welcome a more active involvement of the United Nations and the OAU to coordinate and streamline the various peace efforts. It would be prepared to consider a rehabilitation programme for the Democratic Republic in case of an effective cessation of hostilities and internal progress on peace, democracy and respect for human rights.
He reiterated that the Union might find it difficult to continue its present level of budgetary assistance to countries involved in the conflict, should they persist with the military option. Considerations in that regard would not, of course, affect purely humanitarian assistance.
FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said that last Friday he had taken the floor in the Security Council on the same issue, guided by the desire to uphold peace. He did so again today with that same positive spirit. The international community would be blind if it denied the complexity of some of the African situations and failed to recognize the efforts of most countries on the continent to strengthen their democratic institutions, protect human rights and modernize their economies. The international community could not remain indifferent to the situation of Africa, in general, and the Great Lakes region, in particular.
Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that cooperation was an ongoing process, which had to occur in three stages: obtain a ceasefire; then ensure that ceasefire; and post-conflict peace-building initiatives. In all of three stages, the United Nations had to support regional efforts. Argentina was willing and ready to cooperate in all three stages. In addition, certain principles must be taken into account. First was the obligation to resolve the dispute peacefully. Second, the need to find mechanisms for an all-inclusive dialogue. In that context, Argentina strongly supported the regional efforts of the Lusaka process.
With regard to the principle of respect of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic, it was possible to establish a system of safeguards to protect minorities, he said. The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States also had to be respected. In addition, grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law must be properly investigated and punished. In conclusion, the causes of conflict in Africa
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were many in number and required adequate responses. Such conflicts must be tackled globally, uniting the essential elements of peace and security, sustainable development, democracy and good governance.
AMAMA MBABAZI, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Uganda, said his country had neither been an aggressor to the Democratic Republic of the Congo nor was it responsible for the current crisis there as was alleged. Also, Uganda had neither territorial ambition nor economic interests beyond the normal course of bilateral and regional economic cooperation.
He said the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had external and internal dimensions. After President Kabila assumed power in the Democratic Republic, "we had hoped that since he knew our security concerns he would address them". Unfortunately, he did not. At that early stage Uganda appreciated the weak structures that President Kabila had inherited from President Mobutu's regime. President Kabila initially pleaded incapacity to handle that situation. That was why he invited Uganda to deploy the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) inside the Democratic Republic to flash out the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who were operating from that country's territory. A protocol to that effect was signed between the two countries on 27 April 1998. For sometime the cooperation was effective. That did not last and the situation steadily deteriorated.
As rebellion in the Democratic Republic worsened, he continued, President Kabila worked out a deal with the Sudan for that country to step up support to the Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic. Since then, more Ugandan rebel groups were mobilized by the Sudan and moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The support to the Ugandan rebels by President Kabila's Government had itself become evident. The UPDF and Congolese rebels had captured many Ugandans belonging to different rebel groups operating inside the Congo. The Lords Resistance Army, the Uganda National Rescue Front II, the West Nile Bank Front, the Allied Democratic Forces and the ex-Uganda army, were now part of the pro-Kabila armed alliance led by Zimbabwe. That was in addition to the genocidaires of Rwanda. Those criminal gangs had inflicted untold misery on the people of Uganda. It would have been a grave omission of its national security if Uganda's Government had not taken appropriate measures to address that threat to its national stability.
He said that in the meantime, because of Congolese political contradictions, the rebellion of 2 August 1998, President Kabila's immediate reaction was to look for foreign military assistance. Interventions were then made on the pretext that the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda. As a matter of fact, Uganda then only had two battalions inside the Democratic Republic. Whereas Uganda was primarily concerned about the activities of the Ugandan rebel groups in the Democratic Republic, the interventions by Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad and the Sudan,
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introduced a new dimension to the conflict. Against the perceived threat of increased destabilization of Uganda, his country deployed additional forces to counter the threat.
He said the Government and the people of Uganda as a whole, having been victims of the horrendous misrule of Idi Amin and Milton Obote, and having witnessed the most horrific genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994, had developed zero tolerance for genocide. Uganda had adopted that policy in the firm belief that impunity neither served the very tenets of regional and international charters, nor had any moral standing.
Some people had questioned the right of Uganda or any other country or group of countries to act on genocide in another country, he said. "Our contention is that Uganda like the rest of the international community have an obligation to stop that crime against humanity." Should the international community leave a government to kill its own people with impunity in the name of sovereignty?, he asked. Uganda had never agreed with that vulgarization of the concept of sovereignty of the States. There were certain matters that must be universal. Among those were the sovereignty of the population and not just the regimes, and the inviolability of the sanctity of life, especially the banishment of genocide and extra-judicial killings.
JOSEFA COELHO DA CRUZ (Angola) said that her country shared a long border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for that reason, remained gravely concerned by the evolution of the situation there. Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe had acceded to the request of military assistance by the Congolese authorities and following a decision taken by the defence and security regional organ of the SADC. His country supported all the regional initiatives aimed at a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Congo, as long as the legitimate Government of that country approved them. The active involvement of the United Nations in coordination with the OAU and regional bodies was crucial in implementing a ceasefire agreement and an agreed process for the political settlement of the conflict. Therefore, the role of the Security Council, now and at a later stage when the ceasefire was reached, would continue to be needed.
Concerning the humanitarian situation, she said that Angola condemned the massacres of the innocent civilian population that had taken place in Kasika, Makobola and Kamituga. The spread of genocide in the region must not be tolerated and those responsible must be brought to justice. Regrettably, the peace process had come to a standstill due to the reluctance of Uganda, Rwanda and their collaborators to withdraw their forces without conditions. The time had come for the Security Council to get actively involved in accordance with its mandate under the Charter's obligations of maintaining international peace and security.
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Angola commended the courage shown by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ease the political atmosphere in the country by the proposal of President Kabila to hold a national debate, which would include the opposition, she said. Also, at the appropriate time, an international conference on the peace, security and stability of the Great Lakes region should be convened, under the auspices of the United Nations and the OAU, with the involvement of all the governments, regions and their respective conflictual parties. The territorial integrity and the national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic had to be respected. At the same time, those forces within the country that were invited by the Government had to be differentiated from those whose presence reflected different motivations.
RASTAM MOHD. ISA (Malaysia) said serious efforts must be made to prevent the disintegration of the third largest nation in Africa, which could have grave implications for the peace, security and stability of the entire region. The cross-border character of the conflict further complicated an already complex internal situation and was a source of grave concern. He deeply regretted the involvement of a wide range of protagonists and the massive illicit flow of arms in the region. The situation was particularly alarming in that the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo interlocked with other regional conflicts, rendering mediation difficult. A lasting solution would require resolving both the internal and external factors of the conflict.
There was urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, which would pave the way for a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. At the same time, there were obvious difficulties in guaranteeing that the concerns of its neighbours were fully addressed. Yet, that must be done to achieve durable peace in the Great Lakes region. Also, there must be assurances of complete disarmament of the rebel forces. Once a withdrawal was implemented, efforts at national reconciliation and democratization -- including holding free and fair elections -- must quickly follow.
He commended the diplomatic efforts of African leaders to peacefully resolve the conflict, in particular those of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Efforts at regional diplomacy were the most viable approach to resolving the conflict and, as such, they should be strongly supported by the United Nations and the international community. Also, an international conference should be convened on peace and stability in the Great Lakes region, held under the auspices of the United Nations and the OAU.
The cycle of violence in the Great Lakes region must be broken and that began with the people of the region, he said. They could chart a new course of inter-ethnic relations based on peaceful relations, rather than on revenge. Massacres and crimes against humanity must not be met with further atrocities, but rather with the force of reason and the principles of justice and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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International efforts to promote peace and stability in Africa should not ignore the continent's socio-economic problems, he said. Peace and security in Africa should be addressed holistically, with an approach that involved peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict peace-building. Efforts to help build a democratic and prosperous Democratic Republic of the Congo were an excellent opportunity to contribute to the promotion of peace and development in Africa.
The Security Council, in coordination with the OAU and subregional mechanisms, must strive to secure an immediate ceasefire. It should explore the appropriate role for the United Nations in implementing any ceasefire agrement and subsequent efforts at post-conflict peace-building, including the deployment of a sufficiently strong peacekeeping presence.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the violation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Uganda and Rwanda was an act of interference in that country's internal affairs. The invasion had plunged the country into a devastating war and had serious security implications for the region. Further, it violated international law regarding a nation's right to self-determination, self-preservation and its right to determine its own destiny without coercion. The aggression also violated the principles enshrined in the charter of the OAU, especially regarding non-interference in internal affairs, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
In accordance with the obligation of the SADC for ensuring that legitimate governments of fellow SADC members were not removed by invasion, Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe had intervened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. That action had not been taken unilaterally, but rather at the expressed invitation of President Kabila and his legitimate Government. The intervention had also been in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which advocated the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if armed attack occurred against a Member State.
The sole purpose of Namibia's intervention was to prevent the collapse of the State machinery and to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Namibia's action had been based on promoting peace, stability and security in the region, which were preconditions for development and economic growth. It was imperative that the disruption of the democratization process ceased and the reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo resumed soon. A ceasefire agreement should be signed without further delay and the international community should support the efforts of the Government and people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to reconstruct their country.
PIETER VERMEULEN (South Africa) said that lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be ensured only through all-inclusive
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negotiations involving all of the parties to the conflict. A peaceful settlement and lasting regional stability could be attained by putting into practice the framework agreement established at the Pretoria SADC Summit, held in August 1998, which called for: a ceasefire and a cessation of hostilities; the withdrawal of all foreign forces involved in the conflict; and negotiations among all inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of the Congo aimed at re-establishing a democratic government.
He said his country continued to support the efforts of President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia to bring about a ceasefire. South Africa had been actively involved in talks to achieve agreement with all parties involved in the conflict, including rebel forces, on the terms of a ceasefire and the modalities for its implementation. There clearly was an internal and an external dimension to the conflict. All belligerents should, therefore, participate in the search for a ceasefire.
The first priority must be the immediate cessation of hostilities and the signing of a ceasefire document by all belligerents, he said. That signing -- which should take into consideration not only the removal of the military threat to the present Government, but also guarantee the security of neighbouring countries -- must be followed by the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism under the auspices of the OAU and the United Nations.
Right of Reply
GIDEON KAYINAMURA (Rwanda) said that his country had refrained from putting its name on the list of speakers due to its desire to advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He believed that item 167 on the Assembly's agenda was a misnomer because of the ongoing process in the region. There was no armed aggression in the Congo. The Security Council had reiterated its support for the SADC initiative, and those initiatives had to be supported. The SADC initiative had been focused in terms of a ceasefire agreement. It served no purpose to shift the focus from one forum to another as that was likely to delay progress. Rwanda had been the subject of allegations by the delegation of the Democratic Republic. Those same allegations were contained in document A/53/232 of 17 March 1998. They did not accurately reflect the situation.
His delegation associated itself with the statement made by Uganda today, he said. The international community was well aware of the tragedy that Rwanda had endured. That crime of genocide had been planned and executed by the political leadership and Government of the former Zaire, which had crossed into Rwanda. The first aggression against Rwanda had started when that army was permitted to enter Rwandan territory. Their camps were used as a springboard for constant raids into Rwandan territory. Close to two million
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Rwandans had been held hostage by those forces, which were supported by the former Government of Zaire.
Today's Congolese leadership could not deny the grateful assistance they had sought and received in the liberation war against Mobutu, he said. The war for liberation had led to the installation of President Laurent Kabila, who within a year had the same style of leadership as his predecessor. Indeed, he too had embraced genocidal tendencies. His continued support of the former Rwandan army and other criminal armies, and the prosecution of members of the opposition based on ethnicity were just some examples of his character. He had been on the record for calling for the "extermination of the enemy", and other similar statements. His actions and statements did not represent the rule of law and respect of human rights.
Another cause of the conflict was due to the Congolese leadership's failure to work with Uganda and Rwanda to deal with their security concerns, he added. President Kabila bore all the blame for trying to destabilize his neighbours. The international community had to convince him to accept a negotiated ceasefire agreement. Rwanda would continue to act to defend its population, especially against genocide. It stood by the Lusaka process and urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to resolve its crisis. It also called on the international community to act in accordance with the Genocide Convention.
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