In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the National Congress for the People’s Defense rebel group led by General Laurent Nkunda says it will not be part of today’s peace conference. This comes after the rebels chastised President Joseph Kabila’s government for refusing to invite them to the peace summit. Today’s government organized summit in North Kivu's provincial capital Goma is an attempt to solve the ongoing military confrontations in the war-plagued province.
The rebels claim they are prepared to be a part of the summit to help find a lasting solution to the ongoing military crisis. Spokesman Rene Abande for the forces loyal to General Nkunda tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government’s refusal to invite them is regrettable.
“Our group is ready to be part of the conference. But until now, we wrote a communiqué in which we said that we were ready to participate in the conference, but there is no invitation for us,” Abande pointed out.
He said the government has not given the rebel group any explanation for refusing them an invitation to the peace summit.
“We don’t know why because for us we thought there couldn’t be a peace talk or a conference about peace without inviting the CNPD, our organization, so we are surprised. And the other problem is that we called for a ceasefire so that we can allow people to move freely so that this conference can take place in peace. But until now the government didn’t accept to sign this ceasefire,” he said.
Abande said although the rebel group has not filed a complaint with the United Nations mission in Congo about the government’s refusal to invite the group to a peace summit, it is still committed to peace in the region.
“We publicly wrote a communiqué in which we said publicly that we have not been invited. So, we are waiting maybe that they will think about it and send us an invitation afterwards. But we are still waiting,” Abande claimed.
He reiterated the rebel’s preparedness to wait and hope that the government comes up with an invitation for them ahead of today’s summit.
“General Nkunda, who is the chairman of the CNPD, is waiting. He would like to see our organization be invited. He would also like to see a resolution, which would bring peace for this part of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, several mediation efforts and military campaigns have reportedly failed to end years of fighting in the eastern province, where the presence of Rwandan Hutu fighters accused of leading their country's 1994 genocide has provoked conflicts, including Congo's war, which lasted from 1998 until 2003.