DRC: After gaining ground, insurgents agree to ceasefire
KINSHASA, 21 December 2004 (IRIN) - The leaders of dissident soldiers in North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to a ceasefire following more than a week of fighting that has displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
"We are in the midst of talking with three insurgent leaders," Marini Bodho, president of the Congolese Senate in Kinshasa, told IRIN on Tuesday from the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma.
He was in Goma as head of a delegation of government ministers and parliamentarians to help end the fighting.
Bodho said the dissident leaders agreed to travel to Goma with Eugene Serufuli, the governor of North Kivu, and Gen Gabriel Amisi, the new army commander of North Kivu's 8th Military Region, where they were negotiating an end to the conflict. They travelled together from the conflict zone at Kanyabayonga, a town 150 km north of Goma.
Last week, the dissident soldiers pushed the 126th brigade of the army's 8th Military Region out of Kanyabayonga and, by early this week, the dissidents had taken the nearby towns of Kayna and Kirumba.
The UN mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, confirmed that the dissident troops had advanced on the towns and were mainly Congolese Tutsi, who had previously been members of the rebel Rassemblement democratique du Congo (RCD-Goma).
MONUC also said other troops had entered the Congo following a threat on 23 November by Rwandan President Paul Kagame that his forces would cross the border to disarm Rwandan Hutu rebels based in eastern DRC. Many of the Hutu rebels had taken part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and, Kigali charged, were again preparing to attack Rwanda.
Rwanda's government has denied having sent troops across the border.
"We have not intervened in the Congo," Charles Murigande, Rwanda's Foreign Minister, said on Monday. The Rwandan government announced it had withdrawn the threat to send troops.
However, Congolese officials said they believed Rwandan troops were, and still are, in their territory.
MONUC has announced that it is redeploying available troops to North Kivu "with the objective to protect civilians and deter insurgent troops from pursuing their operations".
The peacekeepers were being sent to the areas of Rutshuru, Kanyabayonga, Rwindi, Goma, Beni, Lubero, Butembo, Masisi, Walikale and Nyabiondo.
MONUC and various humanitarian organisations are also mobilising emergency aid for at least 30,000 newly displaced people in North Kivu, according to MONUC.