DR Congo

DR Congo: UN Special Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo speaks with Laurent Nkunda

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Sylvie Van Den Wildenberg / MONUC

"Laurent Nkunda transmitted to me a series of requests and concerns addressed to the Government. I demanded of him from the start whether I could count on him so that we left with this agreement in principle. He accepted." It was in these terms that the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General for peace in the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo, expressed the outcome of his meeting with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda on Sunday last November 16 2008 in Jomba, some 80km northeast of Goma in North Kivu province.

Mr. Obasanjo arrived in Goma, capital of North Kivu province on Saturday afternoon 15 November 2008, accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the International Conference for the Great lakes, Ms. Liberata Mula Mula.

After giving an account of his discussion with Mr. Nkunda to the Congolese authorities, Mr. Obasanjo held a press conference during which he gave an assessment of the meeting.

"Laurent Nkunda engaged on two things in my presence: the respect of the ceasefire on the one hand and on the other, the maintenance of humanitarian corridors in order to give unconditional access to assist vulnerable populations."

"On the ceasefire", explained the Special Envoy, "we also discussed the methods on the setting up of a joint ceasefire monitoring group. Lastly, Laurent Nkunda accepted the principle of my role of Secretary General Special Envoy, as a mediator."

Evoking the requests expressed by Laurent Nkunda, the Special Envoy indicated that Mr. Nkunda demanded direct discussions with the Government, without condition, on various issues: politics, economics and security. Moreover Laurent Nkunda laid a major importance to the question of the FDLR; he also stated that he wants the protection and security of all the minorities of Congo, without exception, but in particular of those in the east of the country.

Mr. Nkunda also addressed the issue of the integration of his troops into the national army, as well as the integration of certain political elements of his movement into the structures of the territorial administration.

Questioned by the press on the credibility of the promises of Laurent Nkunda, the Special Envoy said that he intended to work "on the basis of the principle of mutual trust," and that he would judge Nkunda "on his acts, hoping that he would not disappoint."

Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo left Goma on Sunday afternoon 16 November last for Kigali, the next stop on his tour of the Great Lakes.