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African leaders laud peace gains in the region
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2006-12-15 14:18
African leaders who are seeking ways of bolstering peace, security and development in the volatile Great Lakes region on Thursday lauded democratic process which has been achieved in the past two years.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete whose country held successful elections last year, lauded recent peace initiatives, which he said would consolidate security and democracy in the region.

Kikwete, the outgoing chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, appealed to donors to support the ambitious and costly plans to enable governments to respond to regional challenges posed by effects of conflicts and instabilities.

"My impression of the region today is different from what it was during the first summit in 2004.Today, it is that of optimism. An optimism informed by the encouraging developments on the ground in our region, he told the delegates.

The Tanzanian leader also lauded landmark polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and relative stability in post-civil war in Burundi. The two countries have been ravaged by bloody conflicts in the recent past. Burundi has been battered by civil war since 1993 and another conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the DRC which has hardly known peace and stability since its independence in 1960.

The peace dividends of a stable DRC are the dividends for the whole region, the Tanzanian leader said, calling for help for DRC's rehabilitation efforts.

He said efforts are currently underway in Uganda and Sudan, which have been mired in violence.

"Today, Darfur seems difficult to fix, but I have no doubt that like the others, this, too, will be sorted out not long from now," he said.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said hopes for a more stable period have been raised by elections in Tanzania , Zambia, Burundi in 2005 and recently in DRC.

"We seek to demonstrate, finally, that armed conflict should no longer be part of our daily existence. We seek to construct a durable, lasting infrastructure that will secure peace, stability and development for posterity," said Kibaki, the in-coming chair, in his opening remarks.

The Great Lakes region conference aims to build on a security and cooperation pact agreed in Dar es Salaam two years ago, outlining package of measures which promises to enhance the lives of the forcibly displaced, including a regional protocol on protection and assistance for internally displaced, which when signed, will be the first legally binding regional instrument specifically dealing with Internally Displaced Persons anywhere in the world.

Source:Xinhuanet 
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