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D R Congo: Curious peace deal with ex-Nkunda rebels
Author: Josh Kron
Category: Central Region
Source: The Nation
African Charter Article# 23: All peoples shall have the right to national and international peace and security.
Rwanda and DRC have set in motion high-level negotiations over the return of warlord Gen Laurent Nkunda after a deal on Monday in which the government ceded too much ground to th! e Gen Nkunda's former fighters. Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister, Rosem ary Museminali, was set to meet with her DRC counterpart, Alexis Tambwe Mwamba, on Thursday, with teams representing security, diplomacy, and justice to discuss bilateral cooperation on a number of fronts, including Gen Nkunda's fate. Consultations on Gen Nkunda's release and extradition to Congo - for which the Congolese have sent official requests - have been going on since his arrest in January, but only picked up pace in late February. Negotiations proper were first set for the middle of March but were pushed back by the Congolese side. Gen Nkunda is the Congolese ethnic Tutsi warlord with national ambitions and a mighty punch. He had been fighting from one of Congo's richest provinces and the most troubled in country- North Kivu and has been in Rwandan custody since crossing the border on January 22, days after Congo and Rwanda launched unprecedented military operations. Since then, some interesting things have happened. Firstly, the Hutu-extremist Dem! ocratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) whom Rwanda and Congo - and Nkunda's CNDP - were fighting has regrouped and is attacking civilians after Rwanda and DRC abandoned the joint operations. This has had security implications since DRC is yet to have Gen Nkunda in its custody while the FDLR threat is far from neutralised. The Congolese army has not been very helpful either and civilians are fleeing by thousands. This time not from Nkunda's CNDP but a resurgent FDLR, which has recaptured three out of the five bases from the government troops known more for their delinquency and rape rather than fighting the enemy. And Rwanda has been watching the deteriorating condition. "We have men stationed to do this," says military spokesperson Major Jill Rutaremara. But the matter is more complex. "It shouldn't be blown out of proportion," says Mauricio Guliano, spokesperson for UN OCHA. "Many of the displaced are re-displaced, but is that better? He wo! nders. But as far as improving security and humanitarian situations go es, little has changed. The second development is the Monday evening peace deal with Nkunda's former fighters (CNDP) and the Congolese government. The CNDP, which stopped major assaults in November 2008, became pro-Kinshasa in an early January internal coup and lost its star later that month when Nkunda crossed over to Rwanda, where his status is not very clear with the government maintaining that he is a guest. In the deal, the CNDP was promised the release of all prisoners taken in the war, was accorded a political party status and an all-important clause granting amnesty to all its members who fought since 2003. That would include Gen Nkunda, who is wanted for war crimes by Kinshasa.All this has been happening in the foreground of Rwanda's diplomatic blitz in the past three months.