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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
DR Congo talks build peace
Dr Adolphe Onusumba of the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy, She Okitund of the government of the DR Congo and Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Congolese Liberation Front
Talks have brought warring parties round the table
By Mark Dummett in Gaberone

Talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo's warring parties and other groups entered their final day with all sides hailing the meeting as a trust-building exercise which had reached agreement on a number of key issues.

The talks, being held in the Botswanan capital Gaberone, are the first stage towards finding a lasting settlement to the three year war which has seen the country divided into areas controlled by several rebel groups and the Kinshasa government.

It was the first time that Congo's warring parties have met with unarmed political groups and civic associations to map out a peaceful future.

The achievement so far is not only been to get so many bloody and distrustful rivals talking round the same table but also to have them make some decisions which, if implemented, will do as much to boost the peace process in Congo as any other measures witnessed over the past three years.

Guarantees

So far these include guarantees on free circulation of people throughout the divided country and the release of political prisoners.

Children's hospital in DR Congo
Children are victims of the war as well
But various groups are still working out the details of how these could be put into place.

If signed, as expected later today, they will confirm, participants say, a shared commitment to working together in the best interests of the whole country.

The talks are also establishing ground rules for the next and decisive rounds, the so-called Inter Congolese Dialogue.

Participants agreed these should take place on 15 October and are still debating which African city should host them.

Considerations of security, infrastructure and not least whether 300 Congolese politicians will be made welcome, seem to have whittled the shortlist down to Durban in South Africa, Mauritius, the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and Libreville in Gabon.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | Africa
UN praises Congo advances
04 Jul 01 | Africa
Kabila in peace talks
26 Jan 01 | Africa
Kabila promises peace efforts
24 Jul 01 | Africa
Congo rejects UN co-ordinator
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