RealNews

Tricky Start for Latest Talks on Post-war Congo

Rivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo have gathered in South Africa for peace talks but have made a slow start, overshadowed by bellicose rhetoric and continuing bloodshed in the vast African state. Delegates said on Wednesday that representatives of various factions, who began arriving two days ago to put flesh on a broad peace deal signed in December, had still to start real discussions due to latecomers and procedural wrangling. That made a March 3 deadline set by U.N. mediator Moustapha Niasse to resolve disagreements over a post-war administration look optimistic. Previous deadlines have been ignored. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan stepped into the fray on Tuesday, accusing Congo’s government of blocking a U.N. probe into whether it was secretly backing armed factions in the lawless east, where rebel groups are battling for territory. South Africa has brokered successive phases of long talks to end a war that has raged back and forth across Congo since 1998, dragging in half a dozen foreign armies and killing an estimated two million people mainly through disease and hunger. Although many foreign troops have left, fighting continues between a wide array of government and rebel forces, with all sides accusing each other of torpedoing a December peace deal. Full Story

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