6 Dec 2008

Congo agrees to rebel peace talks

9:52 pm on 6 December 2008

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has agreed to a long-standing rebel demand for talks; the discussions will begin on Monday.

Until now, the DRC government has refused calls for direct talks with General Laurent Nkunda's forces, whose advance in recent months has forced some 250,000 people from their homes, sparking a humanitarian crisis.

The BBC reports the agreement to hold talks was reached in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, which is surrounded by General Nkunda's forces.

After meeting his Rwandan counterpart Rosemary Museminali, DRC Foreign Minister Alexis Thambe Mwamba said the talks would seek to "formalise" a ceasefire declared by the rebels last month, which has since been broken by both sides.

DRC and Rwanda have also agreed to take action against Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels based in DRC.

Rwanda is accused of backing General Nkunda, who is an ethnic Tutsi.


General Nkunda says he is protecting his Congolese Tutsi community from attack by the FDLR. Some leaders of the militia fled to eastern DRC after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Both Rwanda and General Nkunda have accused the Congolese government of not doing enough to tackle the FDLR.

Despite agreeing a ceasefire in November, rebel forces have continued to attack FDLR forces, saying the truce does not apply to operations against foreign militia.