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Congo War

Congo, Oh Congo: Will there ever be peace?

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Oct 28, 2008

The east of the sprawling jungle nation of Congo is again in turmoil, as troops loyal to General Nkunda have taken control of a large national army base, before also occupying the park headquarters of the Virunga Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas.

Conservationists will measure the actions of the freedom fighters by their behavior how they act inside the park and if they let park rangers do their work, without becoming a fifth column for the Kinshasa regime, however.

MONUC, the UN contingent in the Congo, is equally shaken to the core, as reports emerged that its new commander, Spanish General Vincente Diaz de Hellega may have resigned. His assignment only weeks after he had taken over from disgraced General Baba Gaye, who was constantly under scrutiny for allegedly turning a blind eye to the activities of the Hutu killer militias, while relentlessly hunting the Tutsi self protection forces, all in league with Kinshasa regime troops.

The are unconfirmed reports that the Spaniard quit after realizing what a mess he had inherited and that all respect for his contingent was lost when their partial and partisan behavior became public knowledge during the past few months. The BBC, in particular, had exposed a range of ill deeds by MONUC troops and the UN could at no stage fully disown those reports.

These actions caused deep rifts and eroded any remaining confidence in the impartiality of the MONUC forces and are ultimately said to be responsible for the renewed fighting.

Thousands of innocent Congolese residents have already sought refuge in Uganda, while reportedly tens of thousands others are displaced once again.

Sources close to General Nkunda have confirmed that the fighting will continue until the Hutu militias have been disarmed, contained and their ring leaders handed over to the Rwanda government or the special tribunal in Arusha for trial. Only once this threat to the Tutsi communities has been lastingly removed, can fresh peace talks begin.

Rwandan sources have also dismissed as “fiction.” figures released by MONUC and the Congo DR regime in Kinshasa about repatriations of FDLR rebels to Rwanda, with one particular source saying the entire statistics are “cooked.”

Congo, Oh Congo:  Will there ever be peace?
Photograph by AFP/Getty Images

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