Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Egypt: Aboul Gheit warns of military escalation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, expressed concern over the continuous military escalation between the Tutsi troops, led by General Laurent Nkunda on the one hand and the Hutu troops and the Congolese army on the other in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Aboul Gheit added that the status quo in the eastern province warns of an imminent crisis, that must be prevented by the African Union and the UN.

The Foreign Minister outlined that the continuous conflict between the tribal militias in the province calls the memory of the civil war witnessed by the Great Lakes region in the 1990s which exploded between Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo. Aboul Gheit added that The Nkunda's faction persists on finding ethnical pretext to protect the Tutsi tribes, and to launch military actions against both the Congolese army and the Hutu tribes of the province, the matter which warns of the resumption of the ethnic cleansings suffered by the Great Lakes region in 1994.

Aboul Gheit outlined that the current situation demands that the African Union and the international community, particularly the Security Council, to make pressure on Kinshasa and Kigali in order to contain the current disputes between them, and to cooperate to halt the military actions between the Tutsi and the Hutu. There is no alternative for all the parties concerned to join the Goma Peace Agreement, particularly the Hutu militia (FNL), and the Tutsi militia (CNDP) led by General Nkunda. The Foreign Minister affirmed that the UN and the African Union should be neutral mediators to contain the crisis as soon as possible.

The Foreign Minister pointed that Egypt asks for establishing an extended regional dialogue between all the parties involved in the eastern DR Congo crisis, including the governments and the militias, to agree on the executive framework of the peace agreement and to make pressure on the rebel troops to be committed by it. He affirmed that Egypt is committed to the Congolese and Rwandan territorial unity, and it will confront any attempts of raising ethnical unrest in the Great Lakes region; on the basis that Africa and the international community succeeded throughout the past years in crystallizing a mechanism to develop and stabilize this region, as represented in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. All possible preparations and procedures should be taken in order to support and activate this mechanism.

It is noteworthy that the Eastern DR Congo has witnessed armed confrontations decades ago between the Tutsi (CNDP), led by Nkunda and the Hutu (FDLR). The situation becomes more complicated for various reasons, on top of which the ethnic dimension, and the permanent conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi, which exploded in its most frightening form in 1994, when the Rwandan-Burundian war erupted. There is also the economic dimension, where the fighting troops seek to control the natural resources rich province, abundant in gold, cobalt and uranium reserves.

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