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Crisis talks took place in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
Europe and at the United Nations yesterday to try to stop more
bloodshed in the vast central African country after at least 100
people died in ten days of unrest.
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, who arrived Sunday on an
emergency mission, held talks with President Laurent Kabila and
high-ranking members of the transition government, in search of a
peaceful solution to the crisis in DRC, sparked when rebellious
soldiers overran Bukavu, a key eastern town.
Michel said yesterday the European Union (EU) was considering
sending peacekeepers to Bukavu, although an EU diplomat in Brussels
later said there were no plans to send soldiers.
If an EU mission were to be mounted for Bukavu, on the border with
Rwanda, it would "work alongside Monuc," the UN mission in DRC,
He also said he favoured "reinforcing the current UN mission in DRC
and the means at its disposal." Monuc currently has around 11 000
soldiers in DRC.
An EU diplomatic source told AFP that "there are diplomatic and
regular political contacts but there is no talk of an
Troops led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda, drawn from a former
rebel group which is now incorporated into DRC's transition
government, captured Bukavu last week, despite the presence there
of UN peacekeepers.
At least 88 people are believed to have died in 10 days of fighting
in and around the town.
The UN peacekeepers' inertia in Bukavu triggered protests against
Monuc in Kinshasa and other cities, in which at least 12 people
Nkunda began pulling his renegade troops out of Bukavu on Sunday,
but soldiers under the command of another dissident officer, Jules
Mutebusi, remained in the town, according to Monuc.
Tension remained high in the volatile east, with Kabila openly
accusing Rwanda of backing the dissidents.
DRC armed forces head of staff Admiral Liwanga Mata-Myamunyobo
reiterated the accusations yesterday, and said his soldiers would
"kick out... Rwandans who are on our territory."
Regular DRC troops were closing in on Bukavu yesterday, and the
remaining dissident soldiers were "everywhere in town, taking up
defensive positions," a Monuc official in Bukavu said.
At a meeting yesterday with Monuc's military commander, Nkunda said
that he had pulled out all of his troops, spokesman Sebastien
Lapierre told AFP, adding that Monuc believed the pledge to be
Nkunda announced on Sunday he was pulling out of Bukavu, after
failing to remove his troops following a similar pledge four days
According to Lapierre, Nkunda said he was pulling out after
realising that his kinsmen from the Banyamulenge community -
Congolese Tutsis of Rwandan origin - were not being massacred as he
The UN Security Council was holding talks on the situation in the
town, diplomats said yesterday.
In a telephone conversation Friday with French Foreign Minister
Michel Barnier, Kabila asked the world for help in containing the
unrest, which many feared would cause the country's fragile peace
to shatter, diplomats said.
The French government said it has "in the past few days had
numerous contacts with partners" about the unrest in eastern
"The international community is mobilised, notably through the UN
Security Council," said French foreign ministry spokeswoman Marie
South Africa, which hosted and mediated marathon peace talks that
led to the accord that ended DRC's war, yesterday insisted that
DRC's peace process was still on track.
Pretoria was liaising with the DRC government, UN, European Union
and African Union to try to resolve the crisis, Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told reporters.
The Belgian foreign minister, whose country ruled the central
African country for 75 years until 1960, urged DRC to continue its
transition to peace and democracy.
The main task of the transition government sworn in 11 months ago
is to guide the country, the continent's third largest, to its
first democratic elections since those held on independence from
Key steps on the path to those elections are the bringing into
government of the former foes in the five-year war and the
integration of fighters from rebel and other armed groups into a
Nkunda and Mutebusi, who led the dissident soldiers into Bukavu,
are among diehard remnants of the Congolese Rally for Democracy
(RCD) who have been reluctant to allow Kinshasa to re-establish its
influence in the east of the country, most of which was controlled
by the rebel movement during the war. - Sapa-AFP