African and International efforts to curb Congo conflict underway

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African leaders have met in Nairobi to demand a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor to help the over two hundred thousand people displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the peacekeepers’ mandate should be amended to give them peace-making capabilities. He said the rebel groups in the region should be disarmed according to existing agreements.

‘There should be an immediate ceasefire by all the armed men and militias in North-Kivu. There should be establishment of a humanitarian corridor throughout the area to ensure immediate address of the humanitarian situation and tragedy,’ he added.

New clashes between government and rebel forces have broken out near Goma and the UN force, Monuc, has deployed helicopters to try to contain the violence. They is also call for UN peacekeepers to get greater powers. Locals in the region of Goma have however continued to accuse UN peacekeepers of failing to stop rebels from killing civilians since the stand-offs between rebels and government troops began in eastern DR Congo in August last year.

Conflict could engulf the wider region

Reports claim that a Uruguayan officer serving with the UN peacekeepers in DR Congo said the government side was being backed up by Angolan troops. The officer spoke to international news agencies in Goma, saying the Angolans had arrived there four days ago.

It is said that Angola is an ally of the Congolese government and has been invited by Mr Kabila to provide military assistance. But its government has said it will not intervene directly. Angola and Zimbabwe both supported DR Congo with troops during the 1998-2003 war.

Reports also claim that Gen Nkunda is not attending the talks, but former Nigerian President and UN special envoy Olesegun Obasanjo said he would be given a copy of the communique and his reaction would determine the international community’s next move.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon has criticized the recent attacks by Gen Laurent Nkunda’s CNDP rebels. ‘The recent military offensives by the CNDP have radically compounded the situation, led to severe humanitarian consequences and thrust the eastern DRC once more into a phase of heightened crisis. This crisis could engulf the broader sub-region,’ Mr. Ban said. ‘As leaders of Africa, you have a historic responsibility, it is a critical moment for the Great Lakes region, and for Africa as a whole. We must put the cycle of violence behind us,’ he added.

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