By Meryl White
Impunity Watch Reporter, Western and Central Africa
NORTH KIVU, Democratic Republic of Congo – In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rebel delegates under the leadership of General Nkunda have arrived to attend peace talks between government and rebel actors. General Nkunda will not attend the nine day conference.
The fighting between rebel forces and the Congolese army has lead to the displacement of more than 800,000 civilians in the North Kivu province. More than 10,000 people live in the Buhimba refugee camp alone. People are suffering from sanitation, hygiene and health problems because they are living so close together.
General Nkunda claims that his forces protect ethnic Tutsie in the Northern Kivu province from Hutus who drove them out of Rwanda in the 1994 genocide.
Presently, the rebels want the government to deal with Rwandan Hutu rebels, who have not been invited to attend the peace conference. All Africa.com has stated that the “Tutsi led rebels’ demands are not clearly defined.”
During the opening ceremony, more than 600 delegates from opposing parties were in attendance. Moreover, in the next few days, twenty government ministers will attend the conference. Congo’s Interior Minister Denis Kalume urged all rebels to disarm. Nevertheless, some members of President Joseph Kabila’s government in Kinshasa were reluctant to end the conflict, rejecting General Nkunda’s call for peace talks.
For more information, please see:
BBC – Rebels Attend Congo Peace Talks – 7 January 2008
VOA- Fleeing Civilians Swell Displacement Camps in Eastern DRC – 7 January 2008
All Africa – Congo-Kinshasa: Peace Conference Opens in Violence-Torn East – 7 January 2008