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South Africa to support National Reconciliation in the DRC

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Government of South Africa - December 10, 2007

The South African Embassy in Kinshasa will, in view of South Africa's Day of Reconciliation on 16 December 2007, undertake a series of activities that will assist the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo embark on structural reform processes to deepen and entrench democratic principles, including respects for human rights, good governance and sustainable development. Pretoria - The South African Embassy in Kinshasa will, in view of South Africa's Day of Reconciliation on 16 December 2007, undertake a series of activities that will assist the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo embark on structural reform processes to deepen and entrench democratic principles, including respects for human rights, good governance and sustainable development.

These structural reform processes form part of the DRC's national reconciliation programmes begun through the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and the Sun City Process. This resulted in the adoption of the new Constitution and the holding of presidential, legislative and national elections in the DRC that saw the appointment of President Kabila as President of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The South African Embassy is re inforcing the Congolese democratisation process by assisting, and adding value, to the national reconciliation efforts of the Congolese Government and people. While reconciliation is by definition an internal affair, the sharing of skills and experiences from South Africa will assist the Congolese in the acceleration and deepening of their reconciliation process.

Specifically, the objectives are as follows:

To enable South African and Congolese church leaders, reconciliation experts, and CSO's to exchange experiences, opinion and views on the national reconciliation process,

To enable a synergy to be developed between the South African and Congolese national reconciliation processes;

To develop programmes of action, that include both Government and civil society, that can advance or add-value to national reconciliation processes;

To ensure transparency and coordination in the national reconciliation and state-building processes undertaken by political leaders, civil society and other organizations; and

To develop project proposals that could be implemented by national and international institutions, with assistance from donors and IGO's/BWI's, and that will add-value to existing processes.

Reconciliation in the DRC is taking place within the context of the national and regional legislative structures, the decentralisation process of Government, and the efforts intended to advance state-building. The Reconciliation events will bring together church leaders, reconciliation experts and practitioners, and politicians to enhance the reconciliation process.

The reconciliation events will take place from 14 th December 2007 to 16 th December 2007. The proceedings consist of three separate but mutually re inforcing events:

a) The Ecumenical Reconciliation Dialogue : This consists of a visit by South African Church leaders, led by Bp. Ivan Abrahams (South African Council of Churches) to meet with, and exchange experiences, on national reconciliation priorities and objectives, with senior Congolese church leaders. The involvement of many clergy within the national reconciliation processes indicates that religious structures have an important role to play in advancing the national reconciliation processes and building a unified, developing Congo. The Dialogue will take place on Friday, 14 th December 2007, at the Salle de Conseil (Protestant Cathedral, Kinshasa).

b) The National Reconciliation Practitioners Seminar : South Africa is pleased to make available the services of Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio (Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and former Head of Research at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) who will act as Facilitator of the Seminar. The objectives of the Seminar are to share experiences generated through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in South Africa to add value to similar processes in the DRC. It is expected that the Seminar, which will be attended by political leaders, academics, civil society, women's organisations and the youth, will eventuate in a final document advancing a programme of action to contribute to national reconciliation and state-building in the DRC. The Seminar will take place on Saturday, 15 th December 2007 at Salon Kasai (Grand Hotel, Kinshasa).

c) Day of Reconciliation celebration : The South African Embassy will be celebrating the Day of Reconciliation with a formal cocktail event on Sunday, 16 th December 2007. During the event, Bp. Johannes Seoka (South African Council of Churches) will make an address on "National Reconciliation and Nation-Building: The South African Experience". The event will take place at the Official Residence of the Ambassador, Ubuntu Village, Kinshasa.

In announcing the Seminar, Dr M Tsele, South African Ambassador to the DRC said "The people of Congo have collectively embarked on the historic process of unifying their country, ending conflicts that have scarred their communities, and reconciling previously warring groups so that, finally, Congo must rise up as a peaceful, stable and prosperous nation, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others and at peace with itself and its neighbours." Amb Tsele indicated that "It is our pledge as South Africa to contribute in whatever way possible to make the ideal of a powerful and united Congo a reality". In pointing out that the experiences of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be of assistance to the Congolese, Ambassador Tsele stated that "If there is any gift that we can give to the Congolese people as South Africa, it is the gift of sharing our experiences in reconciling as a nation."

Both during and following each of the events, there will be opportunity for the media to interview important role-players.

For further information on the processes and events, please contact: Mr Sean Pike on +243-81-326-2510 ( Kinshasa).




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