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Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 99. Mr. M. Higgins Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if he will make a statement on the most recent developments in the conflict in the Congo; the action Ireland proposes to take to assist Congo; and the prospects for peace in the great lakes. [10466/02]

 105. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10611/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 105 together.

The inter-Congolese dialogue seeks to bring together the various actors in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC. Following initial difficulties as to the entitlement of [823] one party to attend the talks, the dialogue was successfully launched on 25 February. However, the town of Moliro on Lake Tanganyika was occupied by the Congolese Rally for Democracy rebels on 15 March. This major violation of the ceasefire agreement was strongly condemned by Ireland at the UN Security Council.

As a result of the occupation of Moliro, the Government of the DRC withdrew from the inter-Congolese dialogue in Sun City. We view the inter-Congolese dialogue as a crucial element of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement as it is intended to lead to representative governance and democratic elections in the DRC. The European Council meeting in Barcelona on 15 March expressed concern at developments and regretted the effect that these developments have had on the evolution of the inter-Congolese dialogue.

On 19 March, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1399 which condemns the capture of Moliro by the RCD and demands that the rebel troops withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the town. The resolution stresses that no party to the Lusaka ceasefire agreement should make military gains while a peace process is under way and a peacekeeping operation is deployed. It further calls on the Government of the DRC to resume its participation in the inter-Congolese dialogue.

On March 21, following negotiations between the parties to the conflict, an agreement was reached in Lusaka that the RCD and the government of the DRC will mutually and expeditiously withdraw their forces from four locations in the eastern half of the DRC. The withdrawal of troops will be monitored by MONUC, the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC. Following this agreement, the Government of the DRC resumed its participation in the inter-Congolese dialogue.

The Government considers that the peace agreement is now at a critical juncture and will continue to closely monitor the situation in the DRC. We welcome the swift resolution of the recent ceasefire violation and we urge all parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue to participate in a constructive manner for the benefit of the Congolese people.

Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 32.


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