Kabila in talks to broker DRC peace

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived in the regional capital of Goma yesterday to attend a peace conference aimed at resolving the conflict in the troubled eastern Kivu region.

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived in the regional capital of Goma yesterday to attend a peace conference aimed at resolving the conflict in the troubled eastern Kivu region.

Kabila's spokesman Kudura Kasongo said: "After the reports of different communities and armed groups, today (yesterday) the work begins in smaller workshops.

"It is here that we will be able to suggest some concrete solutions towards peace in Kivu," Kasango added.

"This is the most important part of the conference, and the head of state wanted to be present."

It is not known how long Kabila intends to stay at the conference, which opened on January 6 and has been plagued with no-shows and walkouts by key players.

Fighting in the troubled Nord-Kivu region has displaced 400000 civilians in the past year, according to the United Nations, bringing the total number of displaced people in the province to about 800000.

Around 1300 delegates are at the Goma conference, although the renegade Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda has not appeared in person - sending a delegation instead.

Since August 2007, Nord-Kivu has seen clashes between the army, which has deployed almost 25000 men in the province, and insurgents allied to Nkunda, a renegade general who claims to be protecting Congolese ethnic Tutsis.

Nkunda is believed to command roughly 4000 men and is based in the highlands.

He strongly opposes the presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo of Hutus from neighbouring Rwanda, who also have a politico-military movement.

Some of these Hutus are blamed for that country's genocide, mainly of Tutsis in 1994. - Sapa-AFP

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