Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila's
government is dismissing demands by renegade army General Laurent Nkunda for
direct negotiations to end the escalating violence in restive North Kivu
province. Laurent Nkunda who is the leader of the National
Congress for the Defense of People (CNDP) also is demanding direct talks to
address his objection to the government's nine billion dollar deal that gives
China access to vast mineral riches in exchange for a railway and a highway.
This comes after Nkunda threatened Thursday to send his fighters into
Goma, North Kivu's provincial capital, unless U.N. peacekeepers guaranteed a
ceasefire and security there after overnight clashes with the national army.
is the VOA correspondent in the DRC. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Goma
that the displaced civilians are fleeing in droves to safety.
"In fact this claim of
Laurent Nkunda has been announced for months now since even the clashes
started. Nkunda says that he needs to negotiations now with the government and
himself and not with all those armed groups of Mai Mai and other militias,
which are operating in the eastern DRC. But the government dismissed the claim
of Nkunda saying that the only frame, which would be conducive for the talks,
is the peace process, which is the ARMANI program, which was signed in Goma in
January 2008," Kahora noted.
He said the contention
between the government and the rebels has to do with the disagreement over the
modalities of the recently signed ceasefire that the rebels pulled out from.
"Nkunda decided to withdraw
from the ARMANI program because he said that it is not a program, which was not
successful as expected," he said.
Kahora said Congolese are
worried the escalating violence is not fully being addressed by President
Joseph Kabila's government.
"This is the question that
everybody is asking because people are really tired of the violence. Imagine
millions of people who are in the streets now who have no shelter they have no
food they have no water and they have no assistance whatsoever. Meanwhile,
politicians are discussing meetings and how to share power, whilst people are
just suffering. So people here would like the two parties to meet and talk
about solving the problem instead of just going on and letting people going on
and suffer for nothing," Kahora pointed out.
He said that the government
has not adequately provided for the Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
adversely affected by he rebel insurgency.
"Nothing has been done since
the IDPs began moving. The clashes, which happened near the town of Goma and
still ongoing, but up till now nothing has been provided for them and they are
just out of assistance and they are just moving around with no help at all…they
even spent the night in the rain," he said.
Kahora said some of the
residents who have been affected by the rebel insurgency have expressed their
frustration with the government and are fretting with the idea of joining the
"Some of them have decided
to crossover to where the rebels are because they have found out that there is
nobody who care about their plight and some of them prefer to go to the side of
the rebels saying that it is better to die of violence rather than hunger,"
He said some government
officials have been reassuring the IDPS with radio addresses, but no concrete
plans are in place to help the affected.
"Yes we heard the governor
of the province speaking on the local radio and explaining to the people about
what is happening and the disaster the war is bringing. But there has been no
solutions to the current IDP problems," he said.
Meanwhile, General Nkunda claims he had called the ceasefire in hopes of stopping
the chaos in Goma. He said he would keep his fighters at a distance, that they
had retreated seven miles (12 kilometers) from Goma, and he wants to maintain
the cease-fire to allow humanitarian help to get through and the refugees to go