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Emissaries to Meet DRC Rebel Leader Friday After Clashes With Government Forces

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a team of emissaries would be meeting reneged army General Laurent Nkunda today (Friday) following intense fighting between the rebels and government forces. The rebel National Congress for the Defense of the Congolese People (CNDP) is accusing President Joseph Kabila's government of attacking its positions in the restive North Kivu Province, which led to the latest fighting. But the government dismissed the accusation saying it was the rebels who attacked government troops without provocation.

Analysts believe the latest round of clashes could potentially undermine the recently signed ceasefire between the rebels and the government. Jack Kahora is the VOA correspondent. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Goma near North Kivu province that Congolese are scared of the insecurity generated by the latest clashes.

"The two parties have been fighting, but the fighting which occurred Thursday morning was the most intense since the ceasefire was signed in January. In fact there is a village called Kanumbe that is where the two groups fought Thursday morning. The two parties are accusing each other of having launched the hostilities, but up to now the situation is still unclear who begun the hostilities," Kahora pointed out.

He said the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo would soon be investigating the hostilities to ascertain what happened.

"MONUC (UN Mission in DRC) is expected to launch investigations and to establish the responsibility between the two belligerents," he said.

Kahora said there has been ongoing clashes between the government and rebel groups in the restive North Kivu Province, which he said has gone un-noticed

"This is not the first time there are clashes between the two groups. But most of the time when there is a fight, there is the intervention of international community, which is involved in the process, but also MONUC, which also tries to approach the two parties. So, there is hope that obviously the two facilitators are going to be involved again and approach the tow parties I'm sure that the CNDP and the government are going to be called and so they can come together and sit together and try to negotiate," Kahora noted.

He said there is an emissary that would meet the rebel leader today (Friday) to ascertain his side of the story.

"I have heard that there is a mission which is expected to go to meet Nkunda's side this Friday morning. And this is to show that maybe this is a way of trying to talk to him and understand what his problem is and how he thinks the situation can be solved," he said.

Kahora said although the situation is unstable there it could still be salvaged.

"The situation is still a bit confusing somehow because there is sometimes no goodwill from both sides either from the CNDP or from the side of the government. It may seem as if each party is trying to focus on the opposition or his view and forget the rest of the population, which is suffering," Kahora said.

He said the insecurity is so bad farmers are unable to go to their farms to grow food for their families.

"The local people have not gone to their fields, they could have already produced six time what they usually produce, but they are unable to have access to their farms and they are just dying of hunger in the IDP (internally Displaced Persons) camps. This is really a situation, which is very dramatically unfortunate, and it seems as if the belligerents don't see the situation as a serious problem, but they are still entrenched in their position and are accusing each other. This is really a serous problem here in north Kivu," he pointed out.

The clashes were reportedly among the worst outbreaks of direct fighting between the rebels and the army since Congo signed a peace deal with more than a dozen armed groups in North and South Kivu provinces in January.

The January peace accord, which is a U.S. and EU-backed attempt to end a year of sporadic violence has struggled since the very beginning.