United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected to meet Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwanda President Paul Kagame soon to resolve the ongoing rebel insurgency in eastern Congo. The Secretary General expressed optimism about the upcoming meeting after both presidents held telephone discussions about finding ways to resolve the escalating violence in Congo's North Kivu province. This comes after several African heads of state called upon the African Union to hold an emergency meeting to discuss a lasting solution to the Congo crisis, which has led to a loss of lives and a dramatic increase in the number of internally displaced people. The leaders contend that the fighting has become a threat to African peace and security, which they claim threaten to further impoverish the continent by diverting attention away from Africa's development needs.
Madnodje Mounoubai is the spokesman for the United Nations Mission in DRC (MONUC). Form the capital, Kinshasa, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the upcoming meeting between the secretary general and the two presidents could set the tone for a resolution of the escalated violence.
"I think this is good news and I hope that the presidents of the DRC and Rwanda will take up the secretary general on his proposal. Indeed I think and I hope that if this meeting takes place, it would open a new era and new possibilities for a lasting peace, not only in DRC, but also in the region of the Great Lakes," Mounoubai noted.
He said the meeting could help resolve the escalating violence.
"Of course, each time there is a conflict and people accept to meet directly, it is a good thing. And I agree with the statement of the secretary general if President Kabila and President Kagame do meet, this is going to be a good thing for the region," he said.
Mounoubai said that MONUC has stepped up humanitarian efforts to help those adversely affected by the rebel insurgency.
"Today there was a convoy that left from Goma for Rutshuru about 70 kilometers north. The convoy took along some medical kits for the hospitals in the region and also some materials to repair the water supply in Rutshuru. The convoy was escorted by MONUC, and this is only the first operation because the team is going to stay on the ground for three days to make a comprehensive assessment of the situation in terms of how many IDPs are in the area. And also in terms of their needs, in order to assist them in the coming days," Mounoubai pointed out.
He said although victims of the violence expressed irritation, all efforts are being made to help protect them.
"We can understand their frustration. You must remember that some of these people have been to two to three or four IDP camps within the last two three years. As far as MONUC on the ground is concerned, the troops on the ground have been very active in terms of protecting the civilians. And in all these different areas, MONUC troops on the ground are providing enormous protection," he said.
An offensive by the Tutsi National Congress for the Defense of People (CNDP) rebel group loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda, and killings and looting by Congolese army troops, have reportedly created what foreign relief workers refer to as a catastrophic situation in eastern Congo's North Kivu province.
Meanwhile, Tanzania's President and current African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete and AU Commission chief Jean Ping proposed a regional summit during telephone talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.