EU proposes new Congo summit

November 1st, 2008 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Nov 1 (DPA) European Union (EU) Development Commissioner Louis Michel has called for an international summit meeting to resolve the conflict in Congo.”Only a political solution that roots out the causes of the conflict can bring stability,” he said after talks with Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Rwanda counterpart Paul Kagame.

Michel Friday said the meeting should be held under UN auspices in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

In addition to Kabila and Kagame, representatives of Uganda, the African Union, the European Union and regional African organizations should attend, he said.

Michel said the aim of the meeting was to bring lasting stability to the Kivu region of eastern Congo Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled fighting between the government troops and rebels led by Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda.

“I believe it is crucial for all the conflict parties to sit down together,” Michel said, according to the EU Commission.

Michel said the agreement reached in November 2007 in Nairobi should form the basis for the new round of talks.

“A comprehensive peace summit under UN auspices and with the participation of all important regional politicians is the only way forward,” Michel said.

Congo has accused Rwanda of backing Nkunda and there have been reports of cross-border firing during the fighting. Nkunda says he is fighting to protect Tutsis from armed Hutu groups.

Many Hutus fled to Congo after the 1994 massacres in Rwanda when Hutu militants killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the space of a few months.

Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) and other groups in January signed peace accords designed to end sporadic clashes that occurred during 2007, four years after a war that began in 1998 officially ended.

But the CNDP and government soldiers have been involved in repeated clashes in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu since late August.

The UN said about 250,000 civilians have fled the fighting since August, bringing the number of refugees in North Kivu to almost one million.

More than five million people are estimated to have died as a result of the 1998-2003 war in the resource-rich nation, most of them from hunger and disease.

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