MONUC appeals for end to fighting on the Isiro-Beni axis

The head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Amos Namanga Ngongi, appealed on Wednesday to rival groups to stop fighting along the Isiro-Beni axis in the east of the country and respect a truce they concluded some two weeks ago.

"To take another square kilometre serves no purpose now that the all-inclusive accord has been signed by the belligerents," Ngongi said.

The only issue blocking the implementation of the truce, he added, was the fight over Mambasa, some 500 km northeast of Kisangani, Orientale Province. He said that, as at Wednesday, the Rassemblement pour la democratie-Nationale (RCD-N) had been in control of Mambasa. Earlier, on Monday the RCD-N had captured the locality of Kamanda, near the town.

The RCD-N, supported by the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo, is fighting the RCD-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K/ML) in this area. Each side is accusing the other of violating the truce they concluded on the fringes of the negotiations in Pretoria, South Africa, on an all-inclusive transitional government for the DRC.

Ngongi expressed concern over the condition of the local residents. "It is astonishing that one can speak today of 16 million people needing food aid in a country where everything can be cultivated," he said.

He went on to announce that MONUC had on Wednesday deployed a four-member observer team to Beni. He observed in this respect that it was reassuring that MONUC's humanitarian section would thereby be enabled to work with other humanitarian organisations in ensuring that aid was being delivered to the needy.