The regional parliamentary meeting on the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, which was hailed as "a step forward" by the UN, was concluded by Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga on February 28, 2007 at the Palais du Peuple in Kinshasa.
For three days, from February 26 to 28, 2007, the parliamentarians considered and debated on their role in contributing to the fast ratification and implementation of the Great Lakes regional pact on security, stability and development, with the support of the respective populations.
The respective countries committed themselves to taking the necessary arrangements to ratify the pact, to sensitize their people and their parliamentarians.
They also committed themselves to establishing a regional parliamentary forum in order to encourage dialogue; to contribute to the mobilization of internal and external resources for the implementation of the programs and to urge their states to quickly honour their financial contribution to the ordinary budget of the secretariat of the Great Lakes pact.
Furthermore, parliamentarians from the eleven signatory countries of the pact formulated some recommendations to the governments of the core countries, to the secretariat of the conference and to the international community.
The recommendations included the harmonization of national legislation for the implementation of the protocols; the implementation of arrangements to assure their contributions to the special fund for reconstruction of the region; as well as all other commitments that result from the signature and the ratification of the Pact.
Finally, the international community, notably the UN and the African Union, were invited to continue their support for peace and reconstruction of the Great Lakes region.
These good intentions are commendable, and it must not be forgotten that the countries of the region have a lot of work to accomplish. Indeed, the zone of Rwanda, Uganda and the DR Congo was the most unstable during the last decade with the East of the DR Congo its epicentre.
That is why, as elabourated by Ross Mountain, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in the DRC, that “the best way to establish lasting peace is to reunify people around collective and concrete initiatives toward peace, stability and development with a shared impulse and respect for cultural diversity and compared history.”
Reiterating that the direct participation of Rwanda and Uganda in the conflict in DR Congo was long over, Ross Mountain said that if “parliamentarians from Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC and Burundi have met to debate the ratification of the pact, it means that a step forward has been taken in the region.”
In addition, the population of the 11 member states of the conference was estimated at 241 million in 2004. According to the projections of the United Nations, this figure will increase by 33% to 320 million people region in ten years time. By 2015, the region will represent 37% of the total population of Sub-Saharan Africa.