Residents of restive North Kivu are demanding Democratic
Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila hold talks with renegade army general
Laurent Nkunda to resolve the escalated violence in the region. The residents
say the rebel leader's call for direct talks with President Kabila's government
after meeting the United Nations special envoy could bring about peace in the
region. Nkunda met with UN special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian
President, Sunday to discuss the escalated violence between rebels and the
national army. Nkunda promised during the meeting to respect the recently
signed ceasefire, to open a humanitarian corridor to aid refugees and support
the United Nations peace initiative. Jack Kahora covers the DRC for the Voice
of America. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from North Kivu's capital,
Goma that the UN special envoy seems to have made an inroad towards finding
peace in the region.
latest development is that President Olusegun Obasanjo visited the region and
he immediately flew to meet the positions of the government forces and the
rebels and wanted to see how closer they were before organizing a meeting with
the United Nations as well as the local authorities. Yesterday, Sunday, he
decided to go and meet the renegade army general Laurent Nkunda with whom they
discussed a number of issues," Kahora said.
said the former Nigerian president met with the rebel leader to hear his side
of claims and demands to Kinshasa.
to Obasanjo, the discussions centered around the claims Nkunda has been making
to the government. Among them is the problem of FDLR (Front
Démocratique pour la Libération de Rwanda/Democratic Front for the Liberation
of Rwanda), which is the
Rwanda militia who are based in the DRC. He was also asking for talks between
the government and his movement, as well as having talks about political
issues, economic issues and security. And then, they agreed on the ceasefire
between the government and the rebels as well as open the corridor, which would
enable humanitarian organizations to bring assistance to the IDPS (internally
Displaced Persons)," he said.
said President Kabila's government has yet to act on demands by the rebels for
direct talks after the rebel leader agreed to back the United Nations peace
to now, nothing has been done because they are still waiting for the return of
President Obasanjo. After Goma, he flew to Kigali to speak to the authorities
there and then Kinshasa is awaiting his arrival for briefing, and then their
position would be given. However, the governor of North Kivu said they are
already in talks and added that it would start talking to the rebels locally
before the next meeting in Nairobi can be organized. But up to now the date of
the Nairobi meeting is not known yet until Obasanjo meet Kabila to discuss all
these issues," Kahora pointed out.
said the rebel leader's immediate demand for direct talks with President Kabila
might not materialize as soon as he would want.
Obasanjo said that the direct talks demanded by the rebel leader might not be
possible. He said that there are some limits in the claims of Laurent Nkunda,
adding that there is a constitution, which the government has on its side
because it was officially elected and advised the rebels to have limits in his
demand. So we don't know how this would be done, and we don't know if Nkunda
believes in President Obasanjo, although he claims he has confidence in the
former Nigerian president. But we would see in the coming days if Nkunda is not
happy, he would pursue fighting on the ground," he said.
the former Nigerian president said the talks he held with the renegade army
general went "extremely well". He adds that the rebel leader agreed to a
tripartite committee to monitor any violations of the recently signed
ceasefire, but strongly objected to the involvement of the United Nations
peacekeeping force (MONUC). Nkunda maintains the UN mission in the DRA has been
siding with the national army and fighting his rebels.