President Denis Sassou N’Guesso has been named as the lead Great Lakes Region’s mediator for volatile Kenya.The seventh extraordinary summit of heads of state and government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in the Congolese capital Brazzaville saw the adoption on Thursday of several recommendations including President N’Guesso’s appointment as the bloc’s mediator in the Kenyan political situation.
The Congolese leader is tasked with “supporting efforts to create conditions conducive to the holding of presidential election,” the final communiqué of the meeting indicates.
“The ICGLR leaders expressed their solidarity with the people of Kenya by encouraging all the parties to do their utmost for the holding of free, credible and transparent elections” the statement said.
One month after the August 8 presidential election, which incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta had won, his main challenger, Raila Odinga announced he was not participating in the October 26 presidential run-off, citing a lack of trust in the electoral commission’s willingness to introduce the reforms he had demanded.
Odinga had told his supporters to disrupt the 26 October exercise, a call which aroused President Kenyatta’s anger.
The Kenyan leader accused his opponent of lacking self-confidence.
With regard to DR Congo, another hotspot in the Great Lakes Region, ICGLR leaders voted to “neutralize the negative forces” active in the country and “repatriate those who have been disarmed “.
While deploring “the delay in the implementation of the 31st December 2016 political agreement”, the final communiqué, which still considers the accord as “a reliable framework for the settlement of the political crisis in the DRC” , urges the authorities of that country to “continue implementing confidence-building measures to create the conditions conducive to the smooth running of the electoral process”.
Finally, the ICGLR leaders recommend “the timely publication of an electoral calendar and the subsequent budget as provided for in the agreement”.
Concerning Burundi and South Sudan, the document condemns the “ceasefire violations” in both two countries before calling on armed groups there to cease hostilities and commit themselves to resolving their differences through political means within the framework of the African Peace and Reconciliation Initiative.
Impressed by the “considerable rise” in the number of displaced people in the Great Lakes Region estimated at over seven million against 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers, ICGLR leaders stressed “the need to ensure the safety and security of civilians”.
They also urged “national, regional and international actors to continue to respond to urgent humanitarian needs and find lasting solutions for displaced persons, refugees and asylum-seekers”.