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DR Congo: UN Dispatches Patrol Following Clashes

UN Mission Dispatches Patrol Following Clashes In Eastern DR Congo

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has dispatched patrols to the country’s volatile eastern region after some of the worst fighting since a peace deal was signed in January broke out earlier today between Government forces and armed rebel groups.

The clashes between the DRC Armed Forces, known as FARDC, and the CNDP (Congrès national pour la défense du people) near Rumangabo in Rutshuru Territory in North Kivu province lasted about eight hours and has now ceased, according to the UN mission, known as MONUC.

“The first thing we did was appeal to all the parties to stop the hostilities. We have also sent out patrols to determine what has actually happened, and we have combat helicopters on standby,” MONUC military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich told the UN News ῃentre.

It is unclear who started the fighting or what provoked it, but Lt.-Col. Dietrich acknowledged that there was “too much tension in the air” in recent days and something was bound to happen. “But we recognize this is not the way to settle conflict,” he added.

Today’s incident was the first major clash since the peace accords were signed in January at the Kivus conference on peace, security and development, held in Goma. “It was quite a setback today,” stated Lt.-Col. Dietrich.

MONUC has no confirmed information regarding casualties or civilian victims, and UN humanitarian staff are assessing the situation.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Alan Doss, met at length today with Defence Minister Chikez Diemu, and was expected to also meet Interior Minister Dénis Kalume. In addition, MONUC’s Force Commander has been in contact with the FARDC Commander.

MONUC is also in contact with the representative of the CNDP to the Mixed Technical Commission on Peace and Security – one of the structures set up under the Amani programme to implement the so-called Actes d'engagement reached at the Goma conference.

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Leila Zerrougui of Algeria – who has had a distinguished career in strengthening the rule of law, particularly through the administration of justice, and in human rights – as his Deputy Special Representative for the DRC.

Ms. Zerrougui served as a judge for numerous years, and then as a legal adviser in the Ministry of Justice before being appointed to Algeria’s Supreme Court in 2000.

She has been a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention under the UN Human Rights Council since 2001 and served as the Working Group’s Chairperson-Rapporteur from 2003 until May 2008.

ENDS

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