Rival militias to meet, says UN

Rival militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have confirmed, in writing, their willingness to take part in a planned meeting to solve their differences peacefully, Namanga Ngongi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, said on Wednesday.

He told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kinshasa, that the venue of the meeting had not yet been decided. The meeting would involve the leaders of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K-ML), the RCD-National, and the Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo. Bunia, a town in Ituri District, is controlled by the Union des patriotes congolais of Thomas Lubanga - a breakaway faction from the RCD-K-ML of Mbusa Nyamwisi.

Ngongi deplored the persisting insecurity in Ituri, northeastern DRC, where some of these groups are fighting each other, saying that the situation was being driven by "belligerents' thirst for power and winning a few more square kilometres or gaining control of one more village".

Efforts to improve the climate for peace in the troubled area received a boost recently when the presidents of the DRC and Uganda, Joseph Kabila and Yoweri Museveni, said they were ready to launch a pacification committee for Ituri, after consultations with their stakeholders.

Referring to the recent fighting between Mayi-Mayi militia and government troops in Ankoro, Katanga Province, Ngongi said: "These minor conflicts among Congolese should stop a at time when foreign troops have pulled out of the DRC. Congolese should work together, hand-in-hand, to guarantee peace and security to their populations."

Peace talks in the South African administrative capital, Pretoria, aimed at setting up a transitional power-sharing government are to be reconvened there on 9 December. However, the leader of RCD-National, Roger Lumbala, has said his movement had withdrawn from the talks.