Congo rebel backs U.N. peace plan, fighting persists

November 16, 2008
By Finbarr O’Reilly
JOMBA, Congo

Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda agreed on Sunday to support a U.N. peace plan for eastern Congo, including a body to oversee a ceasefire, but fighting between the army and rebels raged on in one zone.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (L) stands with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda as they meet in the village of Jnomba in eastern Congo, November 16, 2008. (REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)

After talks with United Nations special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo at Jomba in Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, Nkunda said he had agreed to three requests from him — to respect a ceasefire, open a humanitarian corridor to aid refugees, and support the U.N. peace initiative.

“We agree,” Nkunda told reporters in French.

But he had asked Obasanjo, a former Nigerian head of state, to tell Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s government to also respect a suspension of military hostilities.

“We support his mission … he has got support from the international community … we are behind him and we are going to do our part so we can get on with this peace,” Nkunda, wearing a grey suit and carrying a cane topped with a silver eagle’s head, said in other comments in English.

Obasanjo met Nkunda at his home village in the foothills of the Virunga mountains, close to the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. After their talks, the two briefly danced with rebel fighters and children outside the church compound where they met.

But as they met, U.N. peacekeepers reported heavy fighting on Sunday between Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels and Congo’s army near the village of Ndeko, 110 km (70 miles) north of the provincial capital Goma.

The U.N. troubleshooter, who held talks on Saturday with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, is seeking to prevent the fighting in North Kivu from escalating into a repeat of a wider 1998-2003 Congo war that sucked in six neighbouring states.

Obasanjo, who flew back to the North Kivu provincial capital Goma, said the talks with Nkunda went “extremely well”.

“Nkunda wants to maintain a ceasefire but it’s like dancing the tango. You can’t do it alone,” Obasanjo said.

He said later in Goma Nkunda had agreed to a tripartite committee to monitor ceasefire violations, but on the condition that the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo was not involved. Nkunda says the U.N. peacekeepers are biased against him.

Weeks of combat between Nkunda’s Tutsi rebels and government troops and their militia allies have displaced around a quarter of a million civilians, creating what aid agencies call a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in east Congo.

ROCKET AND MORTAR BATTLE

U.N. military spokesman Lt-Col Jean-Paul Dietrich said the Ndeko combat did not help the peace process: “The army is firing rockets. The CNDP is using mortars. It’s not a good sign if they continue to fight while the special envoy is holding talks”.

Nkunda played down the latest fighting, saying it was “not a problem” and he had contacted the government to try to end it.

The United Nations said it was impossible to say who had started the clashes and at least six government soldiers had been wounded.

The roots of the North Kivu conflict stem from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, when extremist Hutu militias killed about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus before fleeing into Congo.

That led to two wars and a humanitarian crisis that killed more than five million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

In 2004, Nkunda rejected peace deals that ended the last war. He accuses Kabila of arming and using a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the FDLR, which includes perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, to fight with the weak and chaotic Congolese army.

The Congolese president accuses Rwanda, whose soldiers fought in Congo’s last war, ostensibly to hunt down the Hutu militia, of supporting Nkunda’s rebellion.

Nkunda spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa blamed the government for Sunday’s fighting. “The army attacked us this morning,” he said.

But he insisted this would not derail the peace talks. “He (Obasanjo) is not blind. He will see who is responsible for the clashes. While he talks peace, the government attacks us.”

The Congolese army was not available for comment.

Nkunda initially took up arms saying he was fighting to defend fellow Tutsis in Congo from attack by the Rwandan Hutu FDLR. But, after marching to the gates of Goma last month, he is now calling for unconditional direct talks with the president.

Kabila has so far rejected negotiations.

(Additional reporting by David Lewis in Kinshasa, Emmanuel Braun in Jomba and Hereward Holland in Goma)

Source

Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC


Published in: on November 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Comments Off on Congo rebel backs U.N. peace plan, fighting persists  
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Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Rebels reject ceasefire until demands are met

November 8, 2008

By

Efforts to avert all-out war in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo are doomed as long as negotiators ignore the role of the area’s lucrative mineral trade in fuelling the violence, according to anticorruption advocates and development officials.

They say that the deployment of thousands more United Nations peace-keepers to the region would be fruitless if armed groups continue to profit from the illegal trade with the connivance of international corporations.

Armed groups, including the Congolese Army and Tutsi rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda, have profited from the illegal trade of minerals such as coltan and tin ore for years, with British, Canadian, American and Belgian companies among their best clients.

Efforts to break that link have been stymied by Western governments unwilling to loosen their grip on the trade and made more difficult by the emergence of China as a big economic player on the continent. Rebels under General Nkunda’s control dismissed ceasefire calls made at yesterday’s emergency regional summit in Nairobi because, they said, it failed to address any of their demands – including the cancellation of a $9 billion (£6 billion) mining and infrastructure deal between China and the Congolese Government in Kinshasa.

The European Union said it regretted that the summit did not adopt measures to curb illegal mining. The Chinese deal gives China access to vast reserves of copper and cobalt in return for a project to link eastern Congo to Kinshasa by rail for the first time. General Nkunda complained that the deal would “line the pockets of a few politicians while the Congolese people would see no benefit”.

But advocates say that a host of foreign companies and governments are complicit in fuelling the violence by continuing to profit from the trade.

A 2002 UN investigation to name and shame companies involved, and consider sanctions until the trade could be cleaned up, foundered on international reluctance to lose a foothold in the trade. “Governments have been ignoring the issue and doing their best to paper over the war economy, to dampen down criticism of their companies and keep the minerals flowing,” Patricia Feeney, of the British-based lobby group Rights and Accountability in Development, said. “Unless we are willing to disrupt the supply chains, this remains a self-perpetuating illegal war economy.”

Britain is the only country to have censured companies – Afrimex and DAS Air – for unethical conduct in breach of international guidelines after intense pressure from the anticorruption group Global Witness and concerned MPs. At least another dozen identified by the UN have gone unrebuked.

The US has refused to examine any of its cases, while Belgium has exonerated its companies. German and Austrian companies, among others, remain accused of continuing to source minerals from mines in eastern Congo controlled by armed groups. China, the most recent entrant to the scramble for Africa, remains outside international guidelines on ethical trade.

Source

Seems the Corporations are in part responsible for much of the war doesn’t it?

And for What profit. When people are being killed for minerals and the Corporations buy them illegally they should be punished and stopped. Minerals of any type should only be purchased from any country legally.

I guess we have more corporate criminals. They should be treated as war criminals. Charged with crimes against humanity. They are in fact contributing to the deaths of many. They are in essence funding the war.  Maybe they should do some jail time as well. Murder is against the law. Conspiracy to commit murder is as well.

Cause and affect.

Take away the funding that pays for the war and the war could be brought under control. It could and should be ended.

Corporate profiteers such as this deserve to be in jail.

Someone should get out a roto router, ferret out these companies and find a way to stop them.

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 8:11 am  Comments Off on Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo  
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