Congo: The Second Time Around



Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

January 22, 2008: Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has agreed to a ceasefire and a peace deal with the government. This one also involves the Mai Mai militias. This is the second attempt at making this kind of ceasefire work. Nkunda and his followers have been fighting for four years, and the picking are getting slim for an "army" that lives off plunder. Several million people have died from that marauding along the Rwandan border, as the armed groups fought each other, and killed, or drove into the bush, any civilians that got in the way. Disease and starvation was the most common cause of death.

January 21, 2008: Several opposition groups have accused the government of "capitulating to the rebels" by agreeing to continue negotiations with Laurent Nkunda's miltia.

January 19, 2008: The government accused Laurent Nkunda's forces of killing at least 20 civilians in North Kivu Province fighting. Nkunda denied the allegation and said that Mai-Mai militiamen had killed the civilians.

January 16, 2008: It is believed that ten mountain gorillas were killed in the Virunga National Park, by marauders, during 2007. The wildlife preserve covers an area along the Congo-Rwanda-Uganda border zone and is often used as a supply route for rebel groups fighting in the eastern Congo. Some skirmishing between militias and government forces has also occurred inside the park boundaries.

January 15, 2008: President Joseph Kabila briefly attended the Goma peace conference. The peace conference opened on January 14. The government expects at least a thousand participants (perhaps as many as 1,300). The participants come from various rebel, ethnic, and political groups in the eastern Congo. Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) is also participating. Nkunda insists that the government has not done enough to stop depredations by Rwandan Hutus in the FDLR militia.

January 13, 2008: They were in then they were out and then…they came back. On January 11 representatives of Laurent Nkunda's rebel group said they were "suspending participation" in peace negotiations scheduled to begin in Goma (North Kivu province, eastern Congo). However, on January 12 Nkunda issued a statement that said he would send a negotiating team.


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