The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) is cautioning that the country risks plunging into a full scale war between government forces and rebels loyal to reneged army general Laurent Nkunda. MONUC said there are ongoing pockets of skirmishes between government forces and the rebels in the restive North Kivu province despite a recently signed peace deal.
The United Nations and other international mediators are reportedly calling on both sides to respect the ceasefire, pull back troops and let UN peacekeepers set up buffer zones to prevent further fighting. Jack Kahora is VOA correspondent in the DRC. From the North Kivu capital, Goma he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Congolese have lost confidence in the United Nations mission in the country.
"The situation is still confused because since the clashes, which occurred Thursday of last week. The two groups are still in a bad situation because there is a misunderstanding between the two groups it means the two positions are ready to fight any time. And what is obvious is that none of the two groups agrees or accepts that it committed the mistake of the first to attack," Kahora pointed out.
He said those who were appointed to mediate between the government and the rebels to bring about peace have abandoned their mandate.
"The second fact is that even those people who were appointed to lead the ARMANI, which was the process signed in Goma in January for peace, now they are taking part in the conflict because they are making statements to the media, I mean each of the parties in the ARMANI program now are no longer hiding their faces, they are showing that they are ready to fight. And there is nobody protecting the local people in Goma at the moment," he said.
Kahora said most Congolese are unsure about the objective of the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Most people are confusing the role, which MONUC has to play. In fact from the ARMANI program, it was said MONUC has to secure the local people if their lives are in danger. The second fact was to observe the buffer zone, which was created between the two-armed groups and the other part was to observe the ceasefire agreement, which means if there is any party, which violates the ceasefire, MONUC has to investigate this and prepare a report," Kahora noted.
He said both the government and the rebels have expressed their suspicion about the UN mission.
"It appears that MONUC has not been communicating a lot on what is happening because I hear some people from even the CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People) of Laurent Nkunda who said that there are so many when the ceasefire have been violated, but that MONUC does the investigations, but does not make any report about it and inform people about what happened. And this is also the fact from the government, which thinks that maybe MONUC is supporting the rebels," he said.
Kahora said both sides have not lived up to their side of the bargain after signing the agreement.
"There is a kind of confusion in this peace deal because first of all it has to gather all the armed groups even those who didn't have any troops on the ground, and this was a problem. We knew that if the peace deal was signed because there was a conflict between the government and the CNDP, and since then the two parts have been keeping silent," Kahora pointed out.
Meanwhile, a reported anger spurred by a lack of progress towards pacifying the tiny border province, and fuelled by rumors of U.N. collaboration with the rebels, thousands of protesters, many of them refugees, barricaded roads this week near the town of Rutshuru. A convoy of international mediators was attacked by an angry mob on Tuesday.
U.N. peacekeepers traveling through Rutshuru on Wednesday were forced to seek refuge in a MONUC base after protesters surrounded and burned one of their armored vehicles. The United Nations accuses local officials and politicians of manipulating protests, but Doss said it was understandable local people targeted by both army and rebels were frustrated.