Congo Watch: PAP Missions to Probe Ivory Coast, DRC Conflicts

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

PAP Missions to Probe Ivory Coast, DRC Conflicts

April 12, 2005 report via AllAfrica by Matome Sebelebele in Pretoria:

Two Pan African Parliament (PAP) missions will pay separate visits to the conflict-ridden Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next month, to assess the situation there.

The teams will then report back and make recommendations to PAP and subsequently to the African Union (AU) on ways to help the two nations attain peace after millions of people there were killed, raped and displaced, further fueling the humanitarian crisis there.

This emerged at the final day of the African Parliament's third session held in Johannesburg, yesterday.

The high-powered missions are however yet to be announced.

Amongst other things, the continental body has vowed to mount pressure on outstanding African countries to accede to the self-imposing African Peer Review Mechanism, seen by many as a crucial instrument in holding leaders accountable for underdevelopment and maladministration.

To this end, the institution has praised President Thabo Mbeki for his fruitful mediation role in Ivory Coast, saying it was "pleased" to note the successful conclusion of long-running talks.

The once-prosperous cocoa producing country is emerging from a tit-for-tat two year-old conflict that saw President Laurent Gbagbo fighting off rebels in a power struggle, widely claimed to be perpetuated by the former French colonial masters.

The delegates agreed in Tshwane last week to disarm rebel forces and militias as well as settling a dispute over citizenship requirements for candidates to the presidency, which was used to bar main opposition leader Alassane Ouattara from running for elections in this regard the last time.

However a key sticking point - Article 35 of that country's constitution that stipulates that both parents of a presidential candidate must be Ivorian - has been left hanging for the moment.

Speaking to reporters after two weeks of deliberations, PAP president Gertrude Mongella said the Parliament sought to have its own report to further give it a clear picture on the ground.

The mission will be the second such following the one on Darfur that expressed concerns at the repeated violations of ceasefire agreements, stalled Abuja peace talks and the growing humanitarian crisis in the region.

In its report, the seven-member Darfur mission, headed by Ugandan Adbul Katuntu, urged PAP to sound a call on the Sudanese government to "immediately" disarm the Janjaweed rebels blamed for undermining peace agreements there, which MPs argued were not party to.

The report however painted a picture of a distressed population besieged by fear and distrust of the authority, of displaced people living under "inhumane conditions", calling for PAP to set up a trust fund for humanitarian assistance as well as an ad hoc committee on Darfur.

Meanwhile, PAP has thrown its weight behind the United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, who today received a report on Sudan's reconstruction and developmental needs from Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the International Donor Conference in Oslo, Norway.

On a coup in Togo, MPs took their hats off for Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo's "courageous and principled action" by halting an unconstitutional take over of government there.

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