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Council Sees Signs of Progress in Central Africa

Security Council Sees Signs of Progress in Central Africa

New York, Nov 15 2005 6:00PM

Peace in Africa's restive Great Lakes region is close at hand, the leader of the Security Council mission just back from visiting five countries there told the 15-member body today.

The transition to a democratic, coalition government in the DRC is "gathering speed," while the recent, successful transition in Burundi had to be protected, said French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière, who returned from a weeklong mission there on 11 November.

He said that the Council's repeated visits to Central Africa had been prompted by the need to promote peace in a region eager to see stability restored.

With some 20 million Congolese registered to vote so far, the desire of the people of the DRC to vote is evident, he said, looking forward to the upcoming constitutional referendum, presidential elections, and the deadline for the transition's completion in less than eight months.

Progress had been commendable, but significant problems had remained, including the tight electoral timetable, the integration of the army and police, and the presence of armed groups in the east of the country.

Burundi's recent political transition was an encouraging sign, he said, adding that officials generally agreed on the need to withdraw the military component of the UN mission there while continuing post-conflict activities.

Expressing some disappointment that the National Liberation Forces (FNL) remained outside the peace process, he said it was not acceptable for the rebels to impose themselves through violence against the fledgling democratic institutions.

During the mission, Council members also visited Uganda, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania.


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