African nations sign UN arms deal

2010-11-19 22:49

Brazzaville - Eight countries in central Africa signed a convention Friday to limit the spread of weapons in one of the world's most volatile regions, but three countries opted out, the UN said.

"The agreement you came to sign is... a big step forward in the efforts for peace and lasting security in your sub-region," Sergio Duarte, the UN high representative for disarmament, told delegates in the capital of the Republic of Congo.

The eight signatories of the accord, which aims to stem the flow of small and light-calibre weapons, were Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Chad, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Central African Republic and Cameroon.

Burundi, Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda did not sign.

Representatives of Burundi and Equatorial Guinea opted out because they did not receive approval, while Rwanda failed to ratify because of "internal reasons", said Ivor Fung, the head of the UN regional centre for peace and development in Africa.

A Rwandan delegate said Kigali needed to examine the agreement in more detail before it could sign.

According to Fung, seven million small and light-calibre weapons were in illegal circulation in the 11 central African countries at the time of the last assessment in 2006.