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Kenya backs Great Lakes peace

LUSAKA, Zambia, Aug 10 – President Mwai Kibaki has reaffirmed his commitment to partner with other leaders in the Great Lakes region to address real causes of conflict for sustainable peace in the region and Africa as a whole.

Addressing the third Ordinary Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Lusaka, Zambia, President Kibaki urged the regional leaders to be sincere in implementing agreed upon solutions to conflicts in the region.

President Kibaki said: “Such a goal underscores the need for us to address the real causes of conflict in an honest and objective manner and to implement agreed upon solutions together as regional partners with a stake in the stability and development of our region.”

President Kibaki, who is the outgoing Chairman, said that the Summit had met to review the progress made since the regional leaders signed the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in Nairobi in 2006.

“I am happy to observe that much progress has been made after most of the Member States ratified the Pact which came into force in June last year,” said the Head of State.

In addition to ratification of the pact, President Kibaki said, regional workshops have been held to reassess programmes of action and prepare the necessary roadmaps for their implementation.

President Kibaki added: “Similarly, we have made good progress towards the establishment of the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development which is intended to finance economic development as well as reconstruction in post conflict countries.”

On the security situation in the Great Lakes Region, President Kibaki noted that the regional body has achieved encouraging progress, citing Burundi, where PALI-PE-HUTU – National Liberation Force (FNL), has transformed itself into a political party and integrated its  members into the Government organs.

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“This is a great achievement that is welcomed in the Great Lakes Region. In this regard we look forward to peaceful elections next year in Burundi,” President Kibaki said.

The President said the cooperation demonstrated by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in addressing the issue of armed militia groups in Eastern DRC through joint operation was encouraging to the regional leaders.

He added: “We are particularly encouraged by the holding of the ground breaking joint border meeting between the President of DRC and the President of Rwanda on Wednesday last week and the renewed diplomatic relations between the two States.”

Towards this end, President Kibaki noted that the developments have ushered in a new chapter in the relations between the two countries and in the region.

With regard to the Lord’s Resistance Army, President Kibaki welcomed the efforts made by Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa Republic and DRC pointing out that the joint efforts are a clear acknowledgement that the problem can no longer be resolved unilaterally.

He expressed confidence that the conflict in Darfur in Sudan and other States in the region will be resolved through various initiatives as outlined in the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, adding that the recently signed ‘Declaration of Good Intention’ between the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement in February this year is a welcome step towards ending the protracted conflict.

In spite of the progress towards conflict resolution in the region, President Kibaki regretted that stability remains elusive in Somalia as a result of unresolved conflicts stemming from the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia which remains a matter of great concern.

“This is a matter of international concern as it impacts on the regional and international trade and poses great danger to the environment.  I take this opportunity to appeal to us all, and indeed to the international community as a whole, to assume greater responsibility in Somalia in order to ensure the emergence of a stable and democratic country,” President Kibaki said.

President Kibaki thanked their host President Rupiah Banda whom he handed over the instruments of work as the incoming new chairman, his Government and the people of the Republic of Zambia for the warm hospitality extended to them and also for hosting the Third Ordinary Summit of the Great Lakes Region.

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