Congo says no talks with Nkunda outside peace pact
Direct peace talks between Congo's government and Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda are "impossible" unless they take place within the framework of an earlier January peace accord, the government said on Tuesday.
"We agree to negotiate with Nkunda, within the Amani framework," Democratic Republic of Congo's Information Minister Lambert Mende told Reuters, referring to a January peace pact signed by Nkunda which he has since repudiated as one-sided, reported Reuters.
Direct talks with the rebel chief outside of this framework, which had included other armed groups in eastern Congo, were "impossible," Mende said.
"No one is going to be negotiating outside the Amani framework," he added. Amani means "peace" in Swahili.
Mende was responding to a call by a United Nations special envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, for Congolese President Joseph Kabila to talk to Nkunda, whose rebels have won territory in the eastern province of North Kivu.
Obasanjo, who met Nkunda on November 16, said on Monday the insurgent leader had presented three main demands -- direct talks with the Congolese government, protection of minorities, and integration of his soldiers and administrators in rebel-controlled areas into the Congolese army and government.
The U.N. mediator told reporters he did not consider these demands to be "outrageous," adding that Kabila's government could meet Nkunda to iron out details.
After weeks of fighting that drove around a quarter of a million people from their homes, a shaky ceasefire appears to be holding in North Kivu as Obasanjo tries to arrange peace talks.