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Partial truce in Nord-Kivu, as Sarkozy announces peace plan and visit

Article published on the 2009-01-18 Latest update 2009-01-18 15:31 TU

General Bosco Ntaganda addresses a news conference the North Kivu province, earlier this month.(Photo: Reuters)

General Bosco Ntaganda addresses a news conference the North Kivu province, earlier this month.
(Photo: Reuters)

On Friday French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the broad outlines of a project to bring peace to the Nord-Kivu region in the east of the DRC, French daily Le Monde reported on Sunday. Sarkozy also said he would visit Kinshasa in March on a trip that will also bring him to Congo-Brazzaville and Niger.

The announcement comes after a recent visit to the DRC by Sarkozy's advisor on Africa, Bruno Joubert. The paper also says that DRC President Joseph Kabila expressed "interest" in the French leader's three-part plan.

The first element in the proposed peace initiative would involve a joint mining enterprise for the Nord-Kivu region which would allow the DRC and Rwanda to exploit the rich mineral resources for mutual benefit.

The other points involve land distribution in the Nord-Kivu province and also political representation for the Tutsi minority in the area.

Sarkozy was speaking on Friday, the same day that dissident commanders of the CNDP (Conseil national pour la défense du peuple) declared an end to hostilities with DRC government forces, the FARDC.

The commanders are led by Bosco Ntaganda and their truce with the army was matched on Saturday by an announcement by some of the leaders of the pro-government militia Pareco, that they acknowledged an end to hostilities against the CNDP.

Pareco's position however is not united and Sophie Bwiza, a spokesperson for Pareco, told RFI that hostilities would continue against the CNDP, describing the group as "a Rwandan army in the Congo".

"Most of the soldiers who fight in the CNDP are former soldiers from Rwanda," she claimed.

An analyst from the International Crisis Group, Arthur Kepel, said that he could not envisage "a possible alliance between CNDP and Pareco"

He said however that he could see "Pareco combattants integrating the FARDC [Congolese armed forces] as well as CNDP combattants integrating the FARDC".

One of the main questions concerning any integration he said would be "which mechanism the Congolese government is going to use to integrate Ntaganda and his men?"

"Are we talking again about mixage or we are talking about brassage?" in reference to how exactly formerly hostile troops are brought back into the state's armed forces.

Mixage integrated former rebel troops into the army while leaving them stationed in the Nord-Kivu province.

Brassage however implies full integration of the troops of the CNDP into the DRC army, and having them deployed around the Congo, elsewhere than close to the Tutsi minority in Nord-Kivu.

"If we are talking about brassage process then why should Ntaganda and his men remain where they are right now instead of going to a proper brassage which means sending troops to a brassage centre and then later on deploy them later on in the Congo".

It remains to be seen how dissident general Laurent Nkunda, principal commander of the CNDP, will react to the recent truce declarations by the dissident generals of his group and tby Pareco.

The CNDP is currently involved in negotiations in the Kenyan capital Nairobi with the Congolese government, although these were suspended last Friday and will resume on 25 January.