By CHARLES KAZOOBA
KAMPALA – Parliamentarians from 11 countries in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa have formed a peace team, which among other initiatives will meet President Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo and Congolese rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda.
Two Ugandan legislators who are part of the regional inter-parliamentary forum have said that in Kampala that the peace team formed in Arusha, Tanzania early this month would first head to Darfur, Sudan.
“Apart from meeting the two (Kabila and Nkunda) we intend to meet all warring parties in the region,” Onyango Kakoba, a Uganda legislator heading the forum’s desk in Kampala told The New Times this week.
He said the legislators are yet to set the dates for their visits to various war-torn member countries.
Kakoba also chairs the parliamentary standing committee on Foreign Affairs.
The lawmaker anticipated their efforts would harvest peace in eastern DRC. “We are doing all what we can to bring peace in eastern Congo.
If we do not play our role as parliamentarians it is possible the conflict would spread to other countries.
So as parliamentarians, we have learnt not to leave peace talks to governments,” Kakoba said.
Kakoba said each of the 11 member states will have a representative on the peace team.
The initiative comes at a time when most countries in region are embroiled in violent conflicts, with the fiercest fighting going on between Congolese government army and rebels loyal to General Nkunda.
The Ugandan MP said the peace team in addition will explore means to end different humanitarian crises resulting from the perpetual conflicts.
Wilfred Kajeke, another Ugandan legislator, said they were seeking sufficient legislation to contain the endless conflicts in the region.
He said individual national parliaments would twice a year report to the Rwanda-based regional inter-parliamentary forum on the progress of resolving conflicts in their respective countries.
At the first conference of the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa Region Inter-Parliamentary Forum held in Khartoum in July 2006, the member states called upon the regional leadership to use their historical, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity to enhance unity and development instead of using them as tools of destabilisation and destruction.
At the recent Arusha meeting, the forum expressed full support for the creation of a hybrid African Union-United Nations operation in Darfur.
They called upon the warring factions in Darfur to fully observe the ceasefire in order to give dialogue and peace a chance.
The legislators also appealed to the AU member states that pledged to contribute peacekeeping troops in Somalia to honour their contributions as a matter of urgency.
The New Times