Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

U.N. envoys take peace mission to Congo's Kabila
Reuters AlertNet ^ | 30 April 2002 | William Maclean

Posted on 04/30/2002 4:15:54 AM PDT by Vigilant1

By William Maclean

KINSHASA, April 30 (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council mission opened closed-door talks with Congo's President Joseph Kabila on Tuesday to revive efforts to end Africa's biggest war after the main rebel group rejected a partial peace deal as a sham.

The team of 15 diplomats from the world's top security body was led into talks with Kabila by delegation leader Jean-David Levitte, France's U.N. ambassador.

Government officials told reporters Kabila would issue a comprehensive statement on the peace process after the talks with the U.N. team, which will also visit Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The team arrived in Kinshasa in the early hours on Tuesday after talks with President Thabo Mbeki in South Africa and President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

"We arrived here in an optimistic spirit," Levitte told reporters on arrival on the third leg of an eight-nation tour.

The envoys will also meet members of a U.N. peace monitoring force before going on to the rebel-held eastern Congolese town of Kisangani on Wednesday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo's war erupted in 1998 when Uganda and Rwanda invaded the former Zaire to support rebel movements fighting Kabila's father and predecessor as president, Laurent.

The two allies later fell out, but kept supporting rebels fighting over Congo's vast mineral riches as Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent troops to prop up the government.


On Monday, the envoys also held talks in Pretoria with Burundi's three main rebel leaders and urged them to end their ethnic-based war in the small tea and coffee-growing nation.

Burundi's war, which has killed an estimated 200,000 people since 1993, pits the Tutsi-dominated army against Hutu rebels based mainly in the Congo. Tutsis are the minority group.

Peace efforts in the Congo are in disarray after a partial settlement reached at peace talks known as the InterCongolese Dialogue in South Africa this month was rejected by Rwanda and Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) rebels.

The partial accord appoints as prime minister Jean-Pierre Bemba, millionaire leader of the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC). Officials of the MLC are now in Kinshasa for talks on forming a new government.

But analysts have warned that by sidelining the RCD -- whose backing by Rwanda makes it the most powerful rebel group militarily -- the pact could return the country to all-out war.

Council ambassadors are urging all combatants to show flexibility in order to revive peace negotiations or face world censure if continued disagreement stirs fresh conflict.

"We have only one message to all our partners: Think about peace in the region, think about ways and means to push the peace process towards this peace, because the people in the region long for peace," Levitte said after talks with Mugabe.

The ambassadors are seeking to refocus world attention the conflict that has cost an estimated two million lives and deterred investment in much of Africa.

They say they are racing against time to revive the negotiations, arguing that once a government is instituted under the partial peace deal, positions in Kinshasa and Rwanda would harden and it would be harder to forge an inclusive agreement.

One RCD official who declined to be identified said that if Kabila and Bemba inaugurated a new government, the RCD would view it as a threat to the integrity of the country and would take whatever steps necessary to unify the state.

"We can bring pressure to bear in the whole country if we want. We are an armed group," the RCD official said.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africawatch; bemba; congo; kabila; un

1 posted on 04/30/2002 4:15:55 AM PDT by Vigilant1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: backhoe; AfricaWatch
2 posted on 04/30/2002 4:17:45 AM PDT by Vigilant1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Vigilant1
God help 'em, then. Don't have time to link or even research it, but some of my early memories of Africa involve "un peacekeeping missions gone bad...." Does the Belgian Congo ring a bell?
3 posted on 04/30/2002 4:28:35 AM PDT by backhoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: backhoe
Yes, it seems that those were some of the first interventions in which the UN became involved.

They need to get the outsiders, who are there only to plunder, OUT.

4 posted on 04/30/2002 7:34:02 AM PDT by happygrl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson