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Africa Focus: DR Congo's former rebel CNDP awaits political reintegration
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16:39, February 19, 2009

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The former Tutsi rebel group of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is waiting for a political solution in the on-going talks being held in the Congolese territory, a spokesman for the group has announced.

Denis Ramaji, representative of the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP) for talks with the government, made the announcement on Wednesday in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu.

Ramaji expressed appreciation of the offer by the government to resolve this political issue after the beginning of the military integration of CNDP into the national armed forces.

Both CNDP and government officials are in Goma for talks, a follow-up to negotiations launched in December in Nairobi, Kenya.

The two sides insist that the new round of talks be held on the Congolese territory instead of elsewhere as the situations on the ground has radically changed.

CNDP has become defunct with its leader Laurent Nkunda arrested shortly after the Jan. 20 launch of a joint military operation of DR Congo and neighboring Rwanda. Ahead of the operation, dissident CNDP generals signed a peace deal with the government, which unveiled the military integration on Jan. 29.

UN special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo went to Goma on Feb. 11 for rearrangements of negotiations. He suspended the talks last month in Nairobi, because Nkunda refused to sign a joint cessation with the government as expected.

The former Nigerian president, however, initially preferred a restart of negotiations still in Nairobi rather than a shift of venue.

Goma talks are being presided over by International and Regional Cooperation Minister Raymond Tshibanda, who headed the government delegation in the Nairobi negotiations with a five-man CNDP team.

Tshibanda is in Goma to see that talks are held in the Congolese territory without a facilitator or a mediator, a sign of confidence that negotiators could find durable solutions for peace in the interests of the Congolese people, officials said.

Nkunda's CNDP posed the biggest threat to the government after breaking a short-lived peace deal in August, sweeping through large swaths of territory in North Kivu, displacing an estimated 250,000 people and attempting to involve neighboring countries in the conflict.

At its recent summit in Addis Ababa, the African Union lauded the Congolese-Rwanda military operation, which has also dealt a deadly blow to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which is linked to the 1994 massacre in Rwanda and years of tensions between the two neighboring countries.

DR Congo, which won independence from Belgium in 1960, has suffered two civil wars since the 1990s. The 1998-2003 Congo war sucked in several countries in the Great Lakes region, including Angola, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda. More than 5 million people died in the bloodshed.

Before launching the joint military operation, DR Congo and Rwanda expressed willingness to resume diplomatic relations, which were severed in the 1990s amid hostilities in which they accused each other of supporting rebels.


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