Congo-Uganda Pact a Step Toward Peace in Great Lakes

ROME, OCT. 2, 2002 ( The signing of an agreement between the armies of Congo and Uganda restores hope for a definitive peace in the Ituri region, one of the most lacerated by the war in the Great Lakes.

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The agreement could turn into a lasting accord between the two countries.

The document is the fruit of the work of the Mixed Pacification Commission, concluded last Sunday in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, according to the Misna missionary agency.

Both sides have agreed on a schedule for the next three months. A long-term solution will have to be proposed before Dec. 29, coinciding with the total withdrawal of the Ugandan army.

The commission, made up of 12 Ugandan and 12 Congolese military experts and civilians, has created a second panel to follow the implementation of the agreement.

Officials are also discussing the possibility of re-establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

According to Irin News, the channel of U.N. humanitarian agencies, the delegations also discussed how to fill the power vacuum left by the withdrawing Ugandans. This vacuum might unleash hostilities between militias and splinter groups.

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