Relaymedia

Disagreements Threaten To Derail DRC Peace Process

Jan 16, 2003 06:31 PM EST

KINSHASA - Intense infighting among rebel groups in North-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is threatening to jeopardize a ceasefire agreement signed between them last December.

Disagreements between the three main rebel groups namely, Movement pour la Liberation du Congo (Movement for Liberation of Congo - MLC), Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Nationale (Rally for Congolese Democracy-National - RCD-N) and its splinter group Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie - Movement de la Liberation (Rally for Congolese Democracy - Liberation Movement - RCD-ML), have left their umbrella organisation, Front for Liberation of Congo (FLC), in tatters.

The three rebel groups had on December 30 last year signed a ceasefire agreement in Gbadolite following international pressure.

Jean Pierre Bemba of MLC, Rogers Limbala of RCD-N and Mbusa Nyamwisi of RCD-ML agreed to pull back their troops from Beni to allow humanitarian organisations to attend to displaced people. They did this under pressure from UN security council.

The ceasefire stopped efforts of Bemba and Lumbala from removing Mbusa Nyamwisi from Beni town but did not heal wounds. Spokesperson for RCD-N, Siwenda Kahasa, said in Kampala recently that MLC and RCD-N want Nyamwisi out.

Kahasa alleges that Nyamwisi receives military support from the DRC government and Lendu militia, and accuses him of being responsible for shielding Rogers Kabanda, leader of a Ugandan rebel group operating from eastern Congo, Allied Democratic Front (ADF).

It is becoming apparent that the Sun City power sharing agreement between DRC President, Joseph Kabila, and the rebel factions did not address territorial concerns in the north-east.

FLC controls North Kivu, Equatorial and Ituri provinces, which RCD-N, RCD-ML and MLC share. But RCD-ML and RCD-N have wrangled over Watsa and Isiro in North Kivu.

The events have once again put Uganda on the spotlight. A number of opposition Members of Parliament, say that the unprecedented defence expenditure by the government was apparently meant for operations in DRC rather than fight an already weakened Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group in northern Uganda.

Some foreign organisations are also accusing Uganda of running illicit small arms trade in the region, blaming the country for being responsible for the current infighting among the rebel factions in DRC.

By Crespo Sebunya