From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Mar 17 18:16:50 2000
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 21:53:05 -0600 (CST)
From: IGC News Desk <email@example.com>
Subject: POLITICS-CONGO: Rebel Group Challenges Peace Process
Copyright 2000 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Rebel Group Challenges Peace Process
By Lyne Mikangou, IPS, 16 March 2000
BRAZZAVILLE, March 15 (IPS) - The National Resistance Council (CNR), a coalition of radical militias, is threatening to pull out of the Congo peace process.
The CNR is demanding the government comply with all the basic provisions of last Dec's peace accords.
In a radio interview with Radio France International, the third vice-president of the CNR, Colonel Emmanuel Boungouanza, accused the treaty monitoring committee of having omitted several points from its programme.
Boungouanza, who is a member of the committee, was a signatory to the accords.
Among the items Boungouanza claims are not being addressed are the general amnesty, the recruitment of former militiamen, and the national dialogue. He said the aim of the dialogue is to include both the government and rebel officials around the conference table.
"Under such conditions, the National Resistance Council might end its participation in the peace process. If this happens, the treaty provision monitoring committee would be to blame," says Boungouanza
The spokesperson for the Congolese government, Francois Ibovi says the government approves of the idea of a national dialogue.
He says the dialogue was supposed to "result in the restoration of lasting peace in the Congo, which has been shaken since 1993 by armed violence".
"The peace process is about to intensify. The government is creating the right conditions for a national dialogue to take place", Ibovi told a recent press conference.
"In the interests of the country, President Sassou Nguesso is ready to sit down with whatever party is ready to keep the peace", he said.
According to Ibovi when the "national dialogue" was over, a government of national unity would be installed.
Ibovi, who is also the Communications Minister, did not provide information as to where the dialogue would take place. All political tendencies are to be included, from exiled dissidents to civil society.
A source close to the president in Brazzaville says that the dialogue may take place in Gabon, whose president, Omar Bongo, was designated as the mediator.
General Samuel Mbaye, an assistant to President Bongo, told journalists; "I don't care if the accords are flouted. Colonel Boungouanza did sign the accords, but that does not make him the monitoring committee's spokesperson. His role is to get his rebels out of the forest, not to go talking to the media".
General Mbaye accused Colonel Boungouanza of not respecting his commitments and asked him to abstain from making comments that cause despondancy among the people.
The Gabonese president recently declared that the inter- Congolese national dialogue would finally take place this year.
However he said before that could happen Congolese opposition leaders living in exile had to to support the collection of arms so that the peace process could unfold under the right conditions.
"The monitoring committee's main function is to collect weapons, because you can't have a dialogue without decommissioning", General Mbaye said.
According to the protocol officer of the CNR, Cyrille Malonga, 7,000 Ninja militiamen have been demobilised and returned to secret barracks somewhere in the Pool province.
Malonga says these 7,000 Ninjas are part of a larger group of 15,000 who have been placed under the direct command of Pasteur Bitsangou in Pool, the native province of ex-prime minister Bernard Kolelas.
"We will hand these 7,000 individuals over to the public forces as soon as we receive assurances that the truce has become effective. Later, we plan to demobilise all our fighting forces", Malonga said.
[c] 2000, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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