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Regional experts adopt defence pact

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NAIROBI, 29 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - Delegates attending a session of the Regional Preparatory Committee on the International Conference on the Great Lakes have adopted peace and security documents as well as a non-aggression and mutual defence pact, Angola's state-owned news agency, Angop, reported on Thursday.

The weeklong meeting in the Angolan capital, Luanda, is the third in the conference's preparatory process.

Under the auspices of the UN and the African Union (AU) - organisers of the International Conference on the Great Lakes - the delegates were mandated to analyse and adopt projects and protocols that were drafted by technical teams during a previous session held in August in Nairobi, Kenya.

They also analysed the region's protocol on democracy and good governance, which was drafted by a technical group set up under the preparatory process.

Angop quoted the spokesman for the meeting, the executive secretary of the National Preparatory Committee, Osvaldo Varela, as saying that Wednesday's session was dedicated to lawyers who would arrange for the technical wording to the documents already approved by the experts.

The protocols on judicial cooperation, prevention and repression of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and all kinds of discrimination would also be under analysis, Angop said.

Varela said other points include the protocol on illegal exploration of natural resources, as well as the top programme on the thematic group on democracy and good governance - the regional centre for promotion of democracy, good governance, human rights and civic education.

According to Varela, Wednesday's agenda included an analysis of some projects on economic development and regional integration, which comprised granting of micro credit to countries in the region.

The Great Lakes region groups Burundi, the Central African Republic, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Co-opted members to the preparatory process are states neighbouring these core countries.

According to Angop, Varela said the delegates also discussed development infrastructures, including the North, Lobito (Angola) and South corridors, as well as the rehabilitation and connection of the Inga Hydroelectric Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 100 delegates from the Great Lakes region and those from the joint UN-AU secretariat, the group of friendly countries, observers and representatives of co-opted states attended the meeting, which is scheduled to end on Friday.

The Regional Preparatory Committee is a pool of the National Preparatory Committees. The technical teams will tackle four different areas: peace and security; democracy and good governance; economic development and regional integration; and humanitarian issues.

Angop said during the Luanda meeting, the experts would "seek to give shape" to the decisions contained in the Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) Declaration, signed by the heads of State of the region, on 20 November 2004.

The technical team is expected to design projects and protocols to be analysed and adopted by the Regional Preparatory Committee, which would later submit them to the third Regional Interministerial Committee, scheduled from 14-16 December in Bangui, capital of the Central Africa Republic.

The Regional Interministerial Committee is the a political organ that would approve the projects and protocols that would later be submitted to the Summit of Heads of State, scheduled for 16-17 December in Nairobi, Kenya.


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