DR Congo

DR Congo: Congolese express disappointment with regional leaders

By Peter Clottey

Washington, D.C. 10 November 2008 - Congolese are said to be expressing frustration over the failure of Sunday's regional heads of state summit to come up with a credible solution to the security situation in the eastern part of the country. Leaders of the Southern African Development community (SADC) meeting in Johannesburg Sunday called for calm in the country and pledged to send peacekeepers to maintain peace in the DRC. Meanwhile, the United Nations said fighting continued Sunday as rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda clashed with pro-government militias leading to a dramatic increase in the number of internally displaced people in the restive North Kivu Province.

Jack Kahora is the VOA correspondent in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Goma, the capital of north Kivu that Congolese are disappointed with the regional body's inaction.

"When the summit was called, most people in eastern DRC were expecting peace coming to the region, but this was not the case. The same day the summit was taking place we were in Kibaki camp, which is located at some 10 kilometers in the north of Goma. And most of the IDP'S (Internally Displaced Persons) were sure that the summit could bring them peace so that they can get an opportunity to go back home. But it was a surprise when the outcome of the summit that they should observe the ceasefire and to enable the corridor, which would enable humanitarian organizations to bring in assistance," Kahora said.

He said the directive of the regional body fell short of providing what most of the displaced persons were hoping for.

"This didn't respond to the needs of the people and they were disappointed. In fact before the regional summit, the rebels themselves has said that they were going observe a ceasefire to enable humanitarian organizations to have access to the IDPS (internally displaced persons). So, the summit didn't change anything and didn't bring anything new towards the situation in the region," he said.

Kahora said the regional summit failed to address the core issue of the escalated violence in the north Kivu province.

"That is the problem and people think that is the reality, which is not so much in the open. What people think is that there is a conflict and the crisis is really known that there is a problem between President Joseph Kabila and the rebels. In fact people often say that why doesn't the government of Kabila just give an opportunity to the rebels to express exactly what they need because people would like to exactly what are the complains and what are the claims of the rebels. But they don't have that opportunity so that people can appreciate if really this is what they claim they want to present. That was it really a reality or was it something that can be claimed," Kahora pointed out.

He said the government is refusing to hold talks with the rebels loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda.

"What we can hear is that the government and President Kabila say they don't want to negotiate with the rebels. There is no dialogue between the government and the rebels, but meanwhile people feel a threat to their lives. Today for instance most of the shops didn't open because they are afraid that the rebels may come to the town at anytime and they would lose all they have worked for. Most of the towns' services did not open today saying it seems there is peace, but it is not peace that people could feel," he said.

Kahora said the new prime minister is promising to address the escalating violence in the eastern part of the country.

"We have welcomed to the region the new Prime Minister Mr. Adolphe Muzito. He was in Goma recently. He was also in Bukavu and in the Oriental Province to see the situation of the region and to have meetings with the different authorities in the area, and he said that he was going to solve the conflict in three ways: political ways, diplomatic and also military ways, and those are the three options he would take to solve the conflict, which is prevailing in the region," Kahora pointed out.