DR Congo president visits rebel fighting region

GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) — Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila on Saturday went to an eastern region where UN peacekeepers indicated that forces loyal to a rebel general had started leaving positions taken from the army in recent weeks.

Kabila went to the Nord-Kivu provincial capital of Goma and held talks with Defence Minister Tchikez Diemu and the leaders of some armed groups who signed a peace agreement in 2008.

The president, who rarely visits the provinces of the troubled country, made no public comment.

Since the fighting started on August 28, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) of Laurent Nkunda has taken a number of army position and moved closer to Goma.

In recent days, UN peacekeepers have helped block the rebels and killed a number in clashes.

Nkunda announced Friday that he had ordered his fighters to withdraw from positions taken from the army.

The military situation in the region "although still tense, remained relatively calm on Saturday," the UN mission (MONUC) said in a statement.

UN forces "nevertheless remain on high alert on the ground to prevent any further clashes," the statement said.

UN peacekeepers "witnessed the evolution of the withdrawal of CNDP troops back towards their initial positions before the start of hostilities," the statement said.

The UN Security Council on Friday highlighted a resolution passed in 2007 which called on all militias and armed groups in the eastern DR Congo, including Nkunda and the LRA to lay down their arms.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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