DR Congo Rebel Leader Agrees to UN Peace Process | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.11.2008
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DR Congo Rebel Leader Agrees to UN Peace Process

Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has told the United Nations special peace envoy that he wants to hold ceasefire talks with President Joseph Kabila's government.

A man reach out to help two displaced children cross sharp lava rock in a camp for displaced people in Goma, eastern Congo

An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting

"Today is a great day for us because we were losing many men and now we have a message of peace," said Nkunda after talks on Sunday, Nov. 16, with Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, in rebel-held territory in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "We should work with this mission."

"We agreed to open humanitarian corridors to support the process," added Nkunda.

Obasanjo, however, commented that maintaining a ceasefire is like dancing a tango: "One does not dance the tango alone."

The meeting was the first time in weeks that Nkunda had received a foreign envoy. Obasanjo was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week to serve as peace envoy to DR Congo as the humanitarian situation there worsens.

Nkunda accuses President Joseph Kabila of using a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, which includes perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, to fight with the Congolese army. He has threatened to topple Kabila's government if he is not granted negotiations with the president.

Kabila, on the other hand, has accused Rwanda of supporting Nkunda's rebellion and has so far rejected the rebel leader's call for direct negotiations.

Aid access worsens as violence continues

Fighting continued throughout the day Sunday between government troops and rebel forces, the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) said.

Aid workers have said the violence is keeping them from bringing assistance to displaced people.

"We've got enough aid, but now the problem is access," said Christophe Illemassene, spokesman for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid in Kinshasa (OCHA), reported AFP news agency.

The UN has estimated that around 250,000 people have been displaced due to weeks of fighting.

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