DR Congo peace talks resume in Kenya
The UN-backed talks between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and a main rebel group aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the strife-ridden country's brutal armed conflict resumed in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Former Tanzanian leader Benjamin Mkapa who is facilitating the Wednesday discussions, called on the parties to hasten negotiations to reach understanding concerning a formal and joint cessation of hostilities in order to alleviate the suffering of their people, reported Xinhua.
Mkapa who is mediating the talks along with ex-Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo said the truce will be useful and a meaningful demonstration of two parties' engagement and commitment to the peace process.
"It will be critical for you during this session to reach an understanding concerning a formal and joint cessation of hostilities in order to alleviate the human suffering that continues in the areas affected by the conflict," Mkapa told the opening session.
He said the truce will allow for the safe return of displaced people to their homes and the provision of humanitarian aid where it is most required.
During the last session, the parties adopted a framework for substantive dialogues attempting to end the conflict that has been plaguing the eastern part of the vast DR Congo.
Since the talks opened in Nairobi early last month, the parties have deliberated on three procedural documents that would guide the forthcoming substantive talks.
"The adoption of those documents allows us now to enter into substantive discussions. It is my sincere hope that during this session we can rapidly agree on the program of work and starts framing the issues as each of you understand them in order to launch the negotiation process properly," said Mkapa.
The talks resumed amid leadership wrangles in the rebel hierarchy between Gen. Laurent Nkunda and his deputy, Gen. Ntaganda. However, rebel commanders in eastern DR Congo have pledged their loyalty to Nkunda, following claims that he had been toppled.
Nkunda's spokesman said those rebel officials saying he had been ousted had committed "high treason".
"All the institutions and all the organs of the movement remain loyal to General Laurent Nkunda. Our leader has not been ousted," Nkunda's National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa said.
Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which accuses him of conscripting children as young as 15 into his forces.
The escalating conflict between Congolese government forces and the rebel CNDP has uprooted an estimated 250,000 people since late August on top of the 800,000 already displaced in the region, mainly in the North Kivu province which borders Rwanda and Uganda.