Embrace dialogue, mediators appeal to Congo warring parties

Foreign Affair minister Moses Wetang’ula (seated right), UN special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo (centre) and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa together with representatives for rebel leader Gen Nkunda (first three right) and the Government delegation at UN Gigiri offices Monday where UN-brokered talks were held. Photo/ANTHONY KAMAU

Two former African presidents Monday appealed to the warring parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo to embrace dialogue and bring the current “catastrophic crisis” in the Central African country to an end.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Tanzanian counterpart Benjamin Mkapa, asked President Laurent Kabila and rebel leader Laurent Nkunda to put the interest of their people and country first and bring the raging war in the Eastern region to and end.

The appeal was also echoed by Kenyan Foreign minister Moses Wetang’ula, on behalf of President Kibaki, who is the chair of the DRC dialogue process, during the opening of peace talks between a delegation of representatives of President Kabila and his rival, Gen Nkunda.

Mr Wetang’ula described as “a journey of hope,” the talks he opened in Nairobi Monday between representatives of the two leaders, and expressed optimism the negotiations would lead to peace, security and prosperity in the troubled Central African country.

Nairobi summit

Mr Wetang’ula recalled that exactly one month ago, President Kibaki presided over a Heads of State summit in Nairobi to discuss the worrying crisis in DRC, where the two former presidents were mandated to mediate and try to restore peace there.

The minister announced that the Kenyan Government would do its best to facilitate the smooth running of the peace talks and to ensure that the African dream for DRC was realised.

Turning to the representatives of the feuding leaders, the minister said: “As you sit here, I want you to be awake to the fact that the girls, boys elderly men and women we are seeing suffering on television sets are your brothers and sisters. Please, do not let Africa and your country down.

In his speech, Mr Obasanjo, who is a special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, said their mission to was promote dialogue between the two parties and to get a lasting ceasefire for the good of their country.

Said the former Nigerian President: “On behalf of the UN Secretary General and the chairman of the African Union, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, we begin this dialogue process vehemently praying and hoping that a lasting ceasefire will be restored in DRC, this is an opportunity you cannot afford to lose.”

The stand was supported by Mr Mkapa in his brief remarks in Kiswahili while addressing the media at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi.