Accessibility links

Peace Efforts Under Way in Congo as New Fighting Breaks Out

The U.N. special envoy to eastern Congo, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, is in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa for talks aimed at averting a regional war as fighting breaks out between the army and rebels.

Following a meeting with the Democratic Republic of Congo's President, Joseph Kabila, Mr. Obasanjo will fly Saturday to the eastern part of the country for talks with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

There are reports Saturday of renewed fighting between his forces and the Congolese army.

Aid workers in eastern Congo have for the first time in weeks been able to deliver food to tens of thousands of people displaced by violence.

Food was distributed Friday at a church in Kiwanja and at a stadium in Rutshuru after a U.N. aid convoy crossed front lines into rebel territory.

A dozen trucks protected by U.N. peacekeepers were able to bring about 100 tons of food to areas north of the main eastern city of Goma, following weeks of fighting in the region between rebels and government troops.

Many of the civilians who came to get food said they felt it was too dangerous for them to return to their homes.

Ethnic Tutsi rebels led by Nkunda started an offensive last month, taking them close to Goma. Nkunda told VOA, late Thursday, he wants to speak with Congolese authorities, on what he called "neutral ground" with a "neutral mediator." Congo's government has rejected his previous appeals for talks.

Rebels say they are fighting to protect Tutsi communities against Hutu extremists who were responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide and now operate in eastern Congo.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.