Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Dialogue' Brings Hope for Peace in Congo ; Congo's Warring Parties Began Peace Talks Yesterday in Sun City, South Africa

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Dialogue' Brings Hope for Peace in Congo ; Congo's Warring Parties Began Peace Talks Yesterday in Sun City, South Africa

Article excerpt

Factions involved in the Democratic Republic of Congo's three- year-long civil war are finally sitting down at the negotiation table, raising hopes that an end to the deadly conflict, which has claimed an estimated 2.5 million lives, may be in sight.

The expected 45-day talks, dubbed the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, began yesterday at the South African resort of Sun City, outside of Johannesburg. The long-awaited talks are a key component of the peace-building process that began with a 1999 cease-fire agreement and are intended to help build the foundations of a united and peaceful Congo.

At least five other African nations and a host of rebel groups and militias are involved in the complicated Congolese war.

Neighboring Uganda and Rwanda are backing two of the main rebel groups, each of which controls about a third of the country, while Zimbabwe, Angola, and Namibia have sent troops to back the government. A number of armed militias, such as the Interahamwe (Hutu militants responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide who fled into the Congo), are also involved in the fighting.

Although the 1999 agreement called for the withdrawal of foreign- backed troops, only Namibia and to some extent Zimbabwe, have removed their troops.

The Sun City negotiations will include more than 300 delegates representing the government, the two main rebel factions, and various elements of civil society, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing women and farmers.

Key issues in the discussions are expected to be the enforcement of the 1999 cease-fire and whether the country should hold elections immediately or only after a transition period of shared power. The government wants to hold elections immediately, while outside groups would like a transitional government implemented first, maintaining that immediate elections would favor the current regime.

In the more than 40 years since it gained independence from Belgium, the Congo (formerly Zaire), has been racked by civil conflict and ruled by a series of military strongmen, who have plundered the country's mineral wealth. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.