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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 13:09 GMT
DR Congo poll 'will spread peace'
Cheering supporters of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila
The Congolese - and their neighbours - hope peace will last
The Democratic Republic of Congo's neighbours have hailed the country's recently completed elections, saying it promised peace for the whole region.

"These [polls] should solve 50% of the Great Lakes' problems," Uganda's Yoweri Museveni told other leaders at a Great Lakes summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The leaders are due to sign a treaty on security and development on Friday.

Joseph Kabila became DR Congo's first freely elected president in 40 years after a war which affected the region.

The five-year conflict, which officially ended in 2002, pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

The conflicts in DR Congo and Burundi and the 1994 Rwandan genocide were closely linked.

Rebel groups

The heads of state at the Nairobi summit are finalising negotiations on the pact, which they hope will stabilise the war-wracked region.

The treaty covers issues such as security, governance and economic development.

GREAT LAKES REGION
body
Peace in the DR Congo will benefit all of us
Jakaya Kikwete
Tanzania's president

It also includes measures to disarm remaining rebel groups, prevent arms trafficking and help millions of refugees.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says the proposals will be backed by an undertaking to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a whole raft of different projects.

Leaders also pointed to a peace deal and successful elections in Burundi, which has had more than a decade of conflict.

Some of the region's leaders acknowledge that huge problems of insecurity, poverty and lack of democracy remain.

Mr Museveni said that the other 50% of the region's problems were the "myriad of negative terrorist groups" based mainly in the eastern DR Congo.

Violence has continued involving small militia groups in the east who do not accept control from Kinshasa, the capital, which lies some 1,500km to the west away across vast tracts of forest.

Rebel groups from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda have also been based in the area.

The world's largest peacekeeping force is in DR Congo, tasked with disarming the groups.

In a recorded message, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was convinced the region was on its way to stability.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, whose country has absorbed thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in the region for more than a decade, said the region was witnessing "a steady march" towards democracy.

"Our brothers and sisters in DR Congo deserve our continued support. Peace in the DR Congo will benefit all of us," he said.

"It is possible to bring to a close a very sad chapter in the history of our region characterised by conflict, insecurity and missed economic opportunities."

About four million people died during DR Congo's war.




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