Friday, December 01, 2006

DRC: Are things actually moving!?!

From Reuters, through The Financial Times:
Congo's Kabila seeks reconciliation in violent east

By Reuters, Friday November 1 2006

KINSHASA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Congo's recently elected President Joseph Kabila carried a reconciliation message on Friday to his country's lawless east, where he is hugely popular but where rebel violence still threatens peace.

Days after the Supreme Court confirmed him as the winner of an Oct. 29 presidential run-off, Kabila visited the eastern city of Goma, which was threatened earlier this week by forces loyal to a renegade general, Laurent Nkunda.

In the worst fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo since last month's vote, Nkunda's fighters battled U.N. peacekeepers who used helicopter gunships and armoured vehicles to check the rebel advance in eastern North Kivu province.

At least five people were killed, more than 100 wounded, and up to 20,000 civilians were displaced by the clashes, which highlighted the east's volatility despite the historic polls, which were meant to draw a line under a 1998-2003 war.

Presidential spokesman Kudura Kasongo said Kabila was in Goma "to deal with a worrying security situation there".

He refused to give details but U.N. and Congolese officials said the mission appeared to be focused more on fostering reconciliation than trying to defeat Nkunda militarily.

"He doesn't seem to be on a war mission -- it seems to be more about appeasement," said one U.N. official.

In Kabila's ballot box contest against former rebel chief Jean-Pierre Bemba, voting was largely along ethnic and linguistic lines. Kabila won over 90 percent of votes in his Swahili-speaking native east, where civilians bore the brunt of the war and many see the president as a man of peace.

But pockets of rebel groups remain, such as the fighters loyal to Nkunda, a dissident Tutsi general who continues to oppose the Kinshasa government in the name of protecting threatened ethnic minorities.

"He (Kabila) wants to ensure that people understand he wants to work with everyone, including the Tutsis," an official at the presidency, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

"It's a trip aimed at calming the people. It's aimed at reconciliation," he added.

Before flying to the east, Kabila held a meeting on Thursday with his defeated rival Bemba in Kinshasa.
In addition to this, I have read from several sources in French, that the other major ex-rebellion, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), had decided to fully participate in the new governmental process, especially now that they are guaranteed almost 10 seats in the Senate, after the provincial elections. Add to this the fact that all the rebellions in Ituri have now signed agreements towards peace... and are respecting them so far, things do not look that shabby after all. Now if we could just deal with this Laurent Nkunda guy, maybe we could start our way towards the new Congo...

I wonder...

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