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22 Dec 2008 07:32
Peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government and rebel forces in the eastern provinces will resume on January 7, after failing to agree on a mutual cessation of hostilities, mediators said on Sunday.
The head of the Kinshasa government team, Raymond Tshibanda, signed a declaration on Saturday aimed at promoting dialogue and creating a “climate of confidence between the two parties” at talks held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
But the representatives from the rebel group, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), refused to sign the document, saying government forces had occupied areas the rebels had withdrawn from in the country’s volatile east.
However, the mediators said in a statement that the rebels’ allegations were investigated by independent sources, and “it has been reported back to the mediators that these allegations are without foundation”.
The CNDP not only refused to sign the joint declaration but also “declined to recommit itself to its own existing unilateral ceasefire declaration”, the mediators’ statement added.
In Kinshasa, the UN mission to the DRC, Monuc, on Sunday called on “all the parties to respect the cessation of hostilities” while waiting for the resumption of talks.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo is the UN special envoy for the crisis in eastern DRC, while his former Tanzanian counterpart, Benjamin Mkapa, represents the African Union.
Fighting since late August between government troops and CNDP forces led by Tutsi ex-general Laurent Nkunda has displaced more than 250 000 people in eastern Nord-Kivu province.
The CNDP has inflicted heavy losses on the Congolese army, taking its assault to the outskirts of the regional capital, Goma.—Sapa-AFP
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