KINSHASA , 20 March (IRIN) - A preparatory
technical committee for the establishment of the long-awaited Ituri Pacification
Commission in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) convened its
first meeting on Thursday in the northeastern city of Bunia.
The committee was set up Thursday as the result of an agreement reached on Tuesday by six of seven rebel groups in the eastern DRC to cease hostilities in an effort to end years of civil war.
The spokesman for the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Hamadoun Toure, said the technical committee comprised two representatives from MONUC, representatives of ethnic militias in Ituri, and officials of the governments of Angola, the DRC, and Uganda. "This committee will work to identify Ituri delegates for the pacification commission," he said.
The Union des patriotes congolais, led by Thomas Lubanga, whose fighters were kicked out of Bunia on 6 March by Ugandan troops, refused to sign the cessation of hostilities accord. Lubanga also questioned the viability of establishing the pacification commission, saying it could not be done "so long as our groups are still confronting those of Uganda".
Signatories to the cessation of hostilities agreement are hoping that the pacification commission will be set up on 1 April.
Lubanga told IRIN on Wednesday that he only needed to sign the agreement with the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF).
Under the cessation of hostilities agreement, the UPDF are to withdraw from the DRC on 24 April, having ceded authority to a local administration comprising the signatories to the deal.
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