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UN Team in DR Congo Attempts to Salvage Peace Process - 2003-06-11

A U.N. Security Council team is trying to salvage the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their efforts come amid new fighting in the northeast of the country. Security Council officials are in the capital, Kinshasa to encourage a wider political peace process before they visit Bunia, where much of the fighting is centered.

The Security Council team has met Congolese President Joseph Kabila, as well as other political players and representatives of the country's main rebel factions in the capital, Kinshasa.

The members of the Security Council led by the French ambassador to the U.N. Jean Marie De la Sabliere, have been in Kinshasa for two days to monitor the power sharing negotiations between the government and main rebel groups.

They discussed ethnic fighting that has been going on in the Ituri district around Bunia, which has slowed the peace process.

Fresh fighting has broken out in the last week in the Kivu region, 250 kilometers southwest of Bunia. That fighting is between the main rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy or RCD-Goma and rival militias backed by the government.

The Security Council team was ostensibly here to denounce the fighting in Kivu and to try and speed up the installation of the transitional government, which aims to end over four years of war and to shepherd the country back to democratic elections in two years time.

The Congolese transitional committee has proposed Congo's independence day, June 30, for the start of a new government, but a role for the army still has to be negotiated. And while government and rebels continue clashing in Kivu, it is unclear how an international force deployed only near Bunia will be able to bring peace to the entire eastern region, already wracked by four years of violence.