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    re: Anvil Mining-20csoon/this news may help.Congo- Congo and Rwanda Agree Peace Deal, says South or Africa.Great timing for AVL.

    July 22, 2002
    Posted to the web July 22, 2002

    Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda have reached agreement on steps to end the four year conflict in the DRC, South African negotiators announced on Monday.

    The peace deal followed five days of closed door talks in the South African capital, Pretoria, between the Rwandans and the Congolese - and an earlier meeting in June between the DRC president, Joseph Kabila and the Rwandan leader Paul Kagame, on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Durban.

    The Pretoria meetings were chaired by the South African deputy president, Jacob Zuma, who said the two negotiating teams would now report back to their respective leaders, Kagame and Kabila.

    "An understanding has been reached," Zuma told a news conference, divulging little else other than that the Rwandan and Congolese presidents needed to be briefed about the details first.

    The talks, which began at ambassador level last Thursday, were upgraded on Sunday to include two senior ministers from Congo and Rwanda.

    Patrick Mazimhaka, minister in the Rwandan presidency, told journalists he felt they could find a solution to the DRC war - which has drawn in at least six nations. "If we can diligently execute this broad agreement, we shall be able to bring to an end the conflict that has been engulfing our countries for several years, sooner rather than later," Mazimhaka said.

    His Congolese counterpart, Augustin Katumba Mwanke, was also upbeat. "On our part, we have reached what we have been looking for all along - to restore the sovereignty and integrity of the DRC, while trying to make sure our neighbour lives in peace."

    Rwanda, which backs the largest rebel group in Congo, has maintained troops across its border, insisting that the government in Kinshasa has failed to round up former Rwandan (ex-FAR army) soldiers and Hutu Interahamwe militias. They were responsible for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed, before the exiled, Tutsi-dominated, Rwandan People’s Army (RPA) marched into the capital, Kigali, and seized power.

    Rwanda says these ‘negative’ forces are a security threat and has accused the Congolese government of harbouring its enemies. The Kigali government, which has occupied huge areas of eastern Congo, has refused to remove its troops until Kinshasa addresses its concerns. But Congo has made the departure of Rwandan forces from its territory a prerequisite to any peace deal.

    "The negotiations were centred around the withdrawal of Rwandan forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the disarming and dismantling of the ex-FAR and the Interahamwe forces currently stationed in the DRC," South African deputy president Zuma concluded that he expected the "eventual finalisation of the discussions and signing of agreements. There is no reason why there should be any doubt that the principals (presidents) should not accept the agreement," he said.

    The Congolese ambassador to South Africa, Bene M’poko, told journalists he expected Kabila and Kagame to sign an accord within ten days.

    Whether the deal will hold is the key question, after a series of unsuccessful peace talks between the Rwandans and the Congolese in the past 18 months, with both sides citing unresolved security concerns.

    An estimated two million people have been killed in the protracted war which has destabilised the whole of central Africa.

    The Congolese government reached partial agreement with a Ugandan-backed rebel faction, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), after peace talks in Sun City, South Africa, in April. But the Rwandan-backed rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, was excluded from this deal.

    Now that proposals to end the military conflict in the DRC appear to have been agreed, Congolese opponents of the Kinshasa government hope they can reach a political accord with the authorities. They say this should lead to the formation of an all-party, national unity government, a democratic transition and ultimately the first true multi-party democratic elections in the DRC since independence from Belgium in 1960.


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