A mission of the SI visited Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Angola from 18 to 23 February at a time of renewed international concern at developments in the Great Lakes Region, to support the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and as part of the International’s backing for peace efforts in Africa. The mission members included the SI Secretary General; the Chair of the SI Africa Committee, Ousmane Tanor Dieng,Socialist Party of Senegal, PS; Nanié-Coulibaly Safiatou, a member of the leadership of the Ivorian Popular Front, FPI; and, Steen Christensen, Social Democratic Party of Denmark.
After preliminary discussions in Abidjan with President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire, the members of the mission flew to Kinshasa where they met members of the political opposition, civil society and representatives of the Congolese government. Among opposition leaders the mission met Adrien Phongo Kunda, the Secretary General of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, UDPS, and other members of the executive of the UDPS; François Lumumba, the President of the Mouvement National Congolais Lumumba, MNC/L, and other key figures in the process of peace-making in Congo.
From the government side the mission met the acting Foreign Minister Manoka Nzuzi, Deputy Minister for International Cooperation.
Phongo Kunda commented that his party was pleased with the visit which came, he said, during the worst crisis that his country had ever suffered. The members of the mission and the political leaders put on record their conviction that the way out of this crisis could only be by politically underlining their support for the Inter-Congolese dialogue and for the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.
In the Burundian capital Bujumbura, the mission met Jean Minani, the leader, with other senior members, of FRODEBU, one of the country’s principal parties which has been sharing the responsibilities of government since November 2001 following the implementation of the agreement on a three-year transitional administration. Minani was elected in January as President of the transitional National Assembly established to bridge the country’s ethnic divisions and resume the democratic process. In all its meetings with the country’s leaders, the mission expressed its backing for peace which had grown out of the agreement of August 2000 signed in the Tanzanian town of Arusha and for an end to the violence which has cost the country over 200,000 lives in the past eight years.
In Luanda, the mission held talks with leaders of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA, an observer member of the SI, including João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, its Secretary General, and Paulo Teixeira Jorge, International Secretary, underlining the SI’s support for dialogue and national reconciliation, for the alleviation of the suffering of the victims of the conflict and for the preparations for national elections.