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Africa
DR Congo rivals resume talks
Meeting in Nairobi comes a day after the UN envoy announced the collapse of talks.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2008 03:32 GMT

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled
their homes in the conflict area [AFP]

Delegates from rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kinshasa government have resumed talks with Olusegun Obasanjo, the UN mediator, a day after Obasanjo said the talks had run into trouble.

"The Nairobi Dialogue between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) resumed this morning," Obasanjo said in a statement on Thursday.

"The  delegations engaged in both direct and proximity talks in an atmosphere of goodwill.

"I am pleased to note that they are making steady progress towards agreement on the ground rules for substantive discussions," the former Nigerian president said, adding that further talks would be held on December 17.

The two sides have been holding direct talks in the Kenyan capital since Monday in a bid to agree a framework deal for substantive negotiations to end months of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in eastern North Kivu province since August 28.

Stumbling blocks

Obasanjo said late on Wednesday that the discussions had stalled over the rebels' insistence on broadening negotiations to include the situation in the whole of DR Congo, not just the east, of which a vast swathe is under rebel control.

He identified another stumbling block as a lack of decision-making authority on the part of the rebel delegation representing the National Congress for the Defence of the People, the group led by Laurent Nkunda, the renegade general.

Bertrand Bisimwa, a spokesman for the CNDP told the AFP news agency earlier on Thursday that the rebel delegation was prepared to continue talking, despite their threat to quit the night before, after accusing Obasanjo of being biased towards the government.

"We have a full mandate to negotiate ... while the government delegation has not," said Bisimwa, angered at what he said was an attempt by Obasanjo to sideline the rebel delegation.

Obasanjo said Wednesday that his mandate as special envoy of the UN Secretary General did not extend to discussing the global situation in the vast, mineral-rich central-African country.

Source:
Agencies
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