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DR of Congo: UN mission chief says rebel group blocking peace in northeast

DR of Congo: UN mission chief says rebel group blocking peace in northeast

The top United Nations envoy for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said today he would seek Security Council action if a rebel group did not stop blocking peace efforts in the Ituri region, where half a million people have been displaced, women raped and many children enlisted as soldiers.

Noting that civilians there were subjected to "extraordinary human suffering," Amos Namanga Ngongi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the DRC, regretted that the signing of a ceasefire for Ituri could not take place today as planned because "the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) did not want the peacemaking process to begin."

Speaking at a press conference in Kinshasa, Mr. Ngongi said that UPC leader Thomas Lubanga had cast doubt on the participation of other groups in Ituri, which borders Uganda, and on the sincerity of Uganda and the DRC. The peace plan, part of an overall effort to bring peace to the war-torn country, was drawn up at a summit meeting in Luanda, Angola, last September.

Mr. Ngongi has suspended an updated timetable set at a consultative summit in Dar es Salaam earlier this month. Under that plan, the Ituri Pacification Commission was to begin work on 25 February. “If this commission is not set up, it will not be possible to install an administration in this part of the country that is recognized by everybody,” he said.

The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) would continue to try to persuade Mr. Lubanga, who has claimed sole legitimate right to control the entire Ituri region, to rejoin the peace process, Mr. Ngongi said.

"Thomas Lubanga must give assurances so that everybody, including his adversaries, may join in the process," he said, regretting "this negative attitude which has annihilated much progress made towards resolving this crisis."