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Ban Urges Rebels, Army To Cease Fire In DR Congo

Ban calls on rebels, army to immediately cease fire in eastern DR Congo

10 October 2008 – Voicing “increasing concern” at developments in the border areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on rebels and the Congolese Government to immediately observe an effective ceasefire and cooperate with United Nations peacekeepers to achieve a separation of forces.

Yesterday, the UN Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC, said it could not confirm persistent reports of incursions by Rwandan troops into North Kivu province where they are said to be fighting alongside the rebel National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP) of General Laurent Nkunda.

The continued fighting between the DRC army (FARDC) and the CNDP “add to the suffering of the civilian population and risks provoking wider conflict in the region,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

He called on all States in the region to prevent their territories and nationals from being used to aid armed groups in the eastern DRC, and urged the Governments of the DRC and Rwanda to bridge their differences by diplomatic and other peaceful means, including the DRC-Rwanda Joint Verification Mechanism.

He told the two Governments “to redouble their efforts to implement the Nairobi Communiqué,” the November 2007 agreement under which they agreed to work together against threats to peace and stability in the region. “The Secretary-General stands ready to assist in this regard,” the statement added.

Mr. Ban reiterated that MONUC would “act within its mandate to protect civilians threatened by armed groups, and to prevent any encroachment on the main population centres and major arterial roads.”

In recent weeks UN peacekeepers backed by combat helicopters opened fire to prevent the CNDP from advancing in the direction of Goma, North Kivu’s capital.

MONUC reported today that relative calm prevailed in North Kivu after UN peacekeepers mediated the return of some rebel-held areas to Government forces. Both sides assured the UN of their desire to proceed with setting up buffer zones as proposed in a disengagement plan. MONUC officials reiterated the need for additional UN troops and air assets to respond to increased insurgent activity.

Hostilities have continued in eastern DRC despite stabilization in much of the rest of the vast country, which was torn by years of civil war. Last week, the DRC called for UN peacekeepers to be given a clear mandate and the resources necessary to impose peace by force if necessary.

ENDS

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