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Obasanjo to Meet DRC Rebel Leader Nkunda for Peace Talks

Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to meet Democratic Republic of Congo renegade army general Laurent Nkunda today to resolve rebel demands at ongoing peace talks in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. Rebels loyal to Nkunda are demanding President Joseph Kabila's government cancel all recently signed contracts with the Chinese government. The rebels contend that Kinshasa is selling out to the Chinese to the detriment of Congolese citizens. But the government dismisses the rebel demand as bogus. Chief negotiator for the Congolese rebels Renee Abande tells reporter Peter Clottey from Nairobi that the recently signed contracts run against the interest of the people and only exist to benefit government officials.

"For us it is necessary to let the parliament know what is being done in Nairobi because for the implementation we would need some law, which would be adopted by the parliament. Secondly, there are some members of parliament who came from the eastern part of Congo who urged the president to go to war. So those people also need to know the spirit of the agreement so that the agreement can be implemented without problems," Abande pointed out.

He said there is need for the Congolese public to know what are entailed in the peace negotiations.

"It is necessary for the president of parliament and president of the senate to be there so that the whole nation would be aware of what is being done. And it is very necessary (may be not now but in the future) implementation of the agreement, which we would be signing in Nairobi," he said.

Abande said the ongoing peace negotiations are meant to resolve the country's problems.

"What we are going to do here is to solve some national political matters, some economical national matters, and some security matters, and some humanitarian matters. For that we think it is necessary for those who are leading the country to sign contracts in which the nation's interest is paramount and not to their own interest. That is the matter because they (government officials) are making contracts in their own interest. So we are saying it is in the interest of the whole nation so that the whole contract must be reviewed in the interest of the people. Otherwise, we would have some people who are leading the country just for their own interest and they would pocket the money and then leave," Abande noted.

He said the country's lawmakers have instituted an investigation into some of the contracts signed by the government, which suggested that they were suspect.

"The evidence we have comes from a commission of parliament which had already done a study, and this commission realized the problem and presented the results of their investigation to the government. I think they conducted the investigations on more than 150, which were found to have been signed in the interest of foreigners and people who are leading the country. It is a not a new demand that we are making because the country's parliament is very aware of the level of corruption in the award of the contracts," he said.

Meanwhile, direct talks between President Kabila's government and the rebels loyal to General Nkunda resumed Wednesday in Nairobi, with UN mediation pushing for a fresh regional summit and urging both parties to agree on a truce. The peace negotiations broke off last December after both parties failed to come to an understanding on the cessation of hostilities agreement.