DR Congo/Rwanda: UN mission urges political solution in east Congo

Report
from Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Published on 20 Jun 2007
By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA, June 20 (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council ambassadors called on Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday to work with neighbouring Rwanda to find a political solution to violence in its eastern border region.

Fighting between Tutsi-dominated Congolese army brigades and Rwandan Hutu rebels has led to targeted killing of civilians, rape, and the displacement of more than 120,000 people in Congo's troubled eastern Kivu provinces since January.

"It seems to us that the problems in the east must be solved in depth, and, in this respect, the relationship with Rwanda is essential," France's ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told reporters at the end of a visit to Congo.

"The solution cannot be solely military ... We think, in order to solve these problems so that the civilian population isn't victim of the situation in the Kivus, a global strategy using political actions and diplomatic actions is needed."

De la Sabliere was speaking at the end of a five-country tour of Africa by U.N. Security Council ambassadors.

The central African nation held its first democratic elections in more than four decades last year, won by incumbent Joseph Kabila, but violence has continued in the east.

North and South Kivu have long been flashpoints of instability in the volatile region, harbouring foreign rebel groups from neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda as well as homegrown fighters.

The provinces were the launching point for two separate Rwandan-backed Congolese rebellions in 1996 and 1998, the latter of which triggered a six-year war which killed an estimated 4 million people, mainly through hunger and disease.

Fighters from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan rebel group partly composed of Hutus responsible for the killing of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, have lived in eastern Congo since the genocide.

Soldiers loyal to renegade Congolese General Laurent Nkunda, a Tutsi brought back into Congo's army, have vowed to drive out or destroy them.

The Security Council last month renewed the mandate of the 17,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission until Dec. 31.

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