Diplomatic efforts continue to end the violence in the eastern
Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations mediator is due to
meet Friday with Congolese rebels and travel to Rwanda after meeting
Thursday with Congolese officials in Kinshasa.
mediator Olusegun Obasanjo's visit to Kinshasa, Goma and Kigali is
aimed at ending the violence that has killed hundreds of people and
displaced one-quarter million in the past four months.
former Nigerian president is seeking to build on an agreement signed
last month by Rwandan and Congolese defense ministers to disarm a
Rwandan Hutu militia that has been clashing with forces of Congolese
rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.
The mission comes as direct talks began between the rebels and the Congolese government in Kenya.
an interview with VOA Swahili Service Nkunda expressed optimism over
the talks. "There is a will. There is a good will and I think through
the good will and talks we can get solutions," he said.
diplomatic efforts intensified late last year after Nkunda's troops
clashed with Congolese government forces and Rwandan Hutu militia. The
militia, which opposed the government in Kigali, entered eastern Congo
after participating in the Rwandan genocide of ethnic Tutsis in 1994.
Humanitarian groups say they are struggling to deliver aid to thousands of civilians displaced by the violence.
United Nations Mission to Congo has deployed 17,000 peacekeepers across
the vast country but only a fraction of these are in the zone of
Belgium and France have proposed sending several
thousand European Union peacekeepers to bolster the U.N. forces but
Britain and Germany say other measures should be tried first.
says sending more foreign troops is not the solution. "I tell them to
bring what they can to help us for talks, not for war," he said.
"Because when I hear them bringing troops instead of bringing
negotiations and maybe a help in ideas for raising our economy, I can
say let the international community help us to have a good leadership."
ended a tenuous cease-fire in September accusing Congolese government
troops of attacking ethnic Tutsi's in eastern Congo and charging the
U.N. Mission with a lack of impartiality, charges which were rejected.
Congolese government accuses Rwanda of supporting the Nkunda rebels
while Rwanda accuses Congo of supporting the Rwanda militias. Both
governments deny the accusations.
International observers say
measures are needed to build mutual trust and allow for the disarmament
of the various armed groups before a durable peace can be established.
the Congolese government's lack of control over the region thousands of
kilometers from Kinshasa and the continuing exploitation of its natural
resources by the combatants are major obstacles.