Peace talks with Congolese rebels fail

December 11th, 2008 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Dec 11 (DPA) UN-brokered peace talks between Congolese rebels and government officials have failed after three days of discussions in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.UN peace envoy and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said late Wednesday that the talks hit a brick wall after the rebels asked to discuss all of Congo and not just the east of the country, where fighting has been taking place.

Tutsi rebel group the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) and Congo officials arrived in Nairobi Monday for the first direct talks aimed at resolving the conflict.

The government had previously refused to meet Laurent Nkunda’s CNDP. However, Obasanjo recently met both parties and persuaded them to sit down at the table.

Neither Nkunda nor Congolese President Joseph Kabila attended the meeting and Obasanjo indicated this was part of the problem.

He said that the rebels’ delegation had been given no power to make decisions and seemed unsure of their objectives.

Well over 250,000 civilians have been displaced in the east of the DR Congo since August as a result of renewed clashes, aid agencies say.

Nkunda called a ceasefire and pulled his troops back from the front lines in mid-November after meeting Obasanjo, but clashes have continued with government forces and pro-government Mai Mai militia.

Civilians have continued to flee the ongoing clashes.

Nkunda says he is fighting to protect Tutsis from Hutu militia who fled to Congo after Tutsi forces seized power in Rwanda.

The armed Hutu groups were implicated in the 1994 massacres in Rwanda, when 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

The Congo government accuses Rwanda of backing Nkunda and a new UN report seems to back this up.

According to the BBC, which saw a draft of the report that will shortly be presented to the UN Security Council, Rwanda is accused of supplying aid, military equipment and child soldiers to the CNDP.

Rwanda also backed the rebels’ recent advance on Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province, with artillery and mortar fire from across the border, the report says.

The report also says the Congolese army works with Hutu militia group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The UN peacekeeping force in DR Congo is to have its numbers boosted by 3,000 to 20,000 in total, but most observers feel this will not be enough to keep the conflict under control.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had asked the European Union to send a bridging force to DR Congo until the UN troops could deploy, but foreign ministers failed Monday to agree on sending in peacekeepers.

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