DR Congo lawmakers urge direct talks with rebels, government declines

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government recently snubbed lawmakers’ proposal for direct talks between government and the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government recently snubbed lawmakers’ proposal for direct talks between government and the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).

Government snubbed Parliament’s recommendation of direct dialogue with the CNDP, which held a unilateral ceasefire since Wednesday, saying it wanted dialogue with all the armed groups in the Kivu region and not just the CNDP.

Reliable sources told The New Times that the DRC National Assembly is said to have proposed the plan so as to find a way of resolving the conflict in the volatile east of the country.

It forwarded the recommendation to the executive, among others, suggesting that government talks directly with the rebels in a bid to find a solution to the conflict through the Amani peace framework.

In this, a direct military, political and diplomatic framework was envisaged. Under the military level, both the government army and rebel High Commands would have met in the presence of MONUC to discuss arrangements for a ceasefire agreement and modalities of disengagement.

They would then put up a joint verification mechanism to verify details from both sides. On the political level, government and rebels would seat to consider the rebels’ demands and look at the possibility of concessions in the interest of peace.

The diplomatic level would also put into consideration the Nairobi joint communiqué and evaluate its implementation. In the recommendations, the lawmakers were also pushing government to normalise diplomatic relations with Rwanda.

However, in what appears to be a rather sad contradiction, indicating that people in the DRC establishment don’t speak the same language, government spokesperson Lambert Mende said there cannot be any negotiations with rebels.

“There are no small and large armed groups,” government spokesperson Lambert Mende said.

Last week, the rebel CNDP, led by General Laurent Nkunda, routed government forces around North Kivu’s provincial capital of Goma, provoking a mass exodus of civilians.
Nkunda demanded direct talks with the government as his militia advanced on Goma.

“If the government can accept the call, we are ready to talk. We support the position of the international community [to stop fighting]. That’s why we are in a ceasefire,” Gen. Nkunda said, speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera Thursday.

“This was a way to show that we are not for fighting, but for peace.” He put forward some conditions for the government.

“We want them also to cease fire, because they are the ones attacking us. Second, we want them to respect humanitarian laws, because they are killing people.

“And we want them to accept that we have a mediator so that we can really have peace talks,” he was quoted.

After government’s turn down, rebel spokesperson Bertrand Bisimwa said the Kinshasa government had “confirmed its militarist position” by refusing Parliament’s recommendation for direct dialogue.

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