Congo-Kinshasa: NGO Says Country's Peace At Stake

The New Times (Kigali)

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Felix Muheto

A US-based NGO, Enough Project, has warned that the peace process in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is on the verge of collapse because of resumed hostilities between government forces and rebels loyal to Congolese general Laurent Nkunda.

In a report released Tuesday, the NGO set up to end Genocide and crimes against humanity said that the fighting had displaced over 100,000 civilians in North Kivu and hindered the work of humanitarian agencies.

It accused the DRC government of not taking the Amani disengagement program seriously and refusing to hold direct talks with Nkunda's CNDP.

"Throughout implementation, the government has generally dragged its feet, treating the Amani Program more as a technical exercise than an opportunity to begin to address the root causes of violence in eastern Congo," it said.

"Refusing to negotiate one-on-one with the CNDP, the Congolese government attempted to weaken CNDP's position at the negotiating table by inviting all armed groups in the Kivus and thus diluting the CNDP's influence", the group said.

It continued o say that the DRC was trying to coerce the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, MONUC, to lend a hand in the fight against Nkunda despite a unilateral cease fire declared by the government.

"Recent public protests against MONUC are a grim indication that blaming the UN resonates with frustrated and war-weary Congolese civilians. This cynical strategy by the Congolese government of failing to implement agreements while simultaneously blaming the peacekeepers for the eroding situation may well make things much worse," pointed out Enough Project.

Reports reaching The New Times talk of sporadic protests against MONUC in several parts of the country accusing the UN mission of failing to use force against CNDP.

The UN-funded Radio Okapi reported that the DRC's second biggest town, Lubumbashi was paralyzed Wednesday by demonstrators, some carrying machetes and banners of the ruling coalition.

Violent demonstrations against MONUC were also reported in Goma town, Kanyabayonga, and Kinshasa. An international NGO even withdrew the eastern DRC after an attack on its employees.

One worker of Agro Action Allemande (AAA) or German Agro Action was killed and two wounded. The attack took place when the workers were repairing the tarmac road from Bunia, Iga and Nioka, in Djugu territory.

Observers say that the mass action is aimed at forcing the hand of MONUC to act more forcefully against Nkunda as it had previously done. The peacekeeping mission last week used its helicopter gunships to halt CNDP advancing on government held lines.

"Making matters worse, the UN Peacekeeping Force in Congo , or MONUC, appeared to take sides, publically admonishing violations and abuses committed by the CNDP and other armed signatories but rarely openly reprimanding similar violations and abuses committed by the Congolese army,' says the report.

Despite MINUC seeming to be taking sides, last week it condemned the renewed fighting and the DRC army retaking positions previously held by CNDP which the latter had put under the control of MONUC under the disengagement plan.

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"MONUC announces that these acts are not likely to restore the climate of trust necessary for a durable suspension of hostilities and the implementation of the overall disengagement plan," a statement the UN mission released last week reads.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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