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Kenya wants Congo peace keepers to use force

Saturday December 20 2008

Former President from left  Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President from left Olusegun Obasanjo Nigeria and Minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula leave the KICC on Saturday Nairobi after holding an agent meeting on the crisis in Congo. PHOTO/ CHRIS OJOW 

By DAVE OPIYO

Kenya on Saturday appealed to the UN Security Council to review the mandate of the more than 17,000-peacekeeping force in Eastern Congo.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said the peace keepers, also known as Monuc forces, should be allowed to use force to restore peace and stability in the country.

“They should not only be made to keep peace as per their mandate, but they should also be allowed to make it,” said Mr Wetangula told a regional inter-ministerial meeting in Nairobi.

He spoke as the African Union pressed for a speedy resolution to the conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands of people and caused a serious humanitarian crisis.

In another meeting in Nairobi, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, also the AU chairman, discussed the crisis with his host President Kibaki.

The two leaders encouraged continued dialogue between the government and rebel forces led by Gen Laurent Nkunda in order to find a lasting solution to the political crisis.

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Mr Wetangula said that the challenge of bringing peace in the war-torn country was enormous, adding that action was needed urgently.

Lasting solution

“The current situation in Eastern DRC calls on all of us to work together to bring a lasting political solution to the conflict,” he said.

“A united, peaceful and vigorous Congo is not only good for the development and future of Africa but also for international peace and security.”

Mr Wetangula urged his counterparts from other countries in the Great Lakes region attending the meeting to re-affirm the call for an urgent ceasefire between the Congolese government forces and the rebelsa.

He said that at least $1.3 million had been deposited in the special fund for the reconstruction and development of countries in the Great Lakes region currently ravaged by wars.

The Nairobi meeting was held to review, assess and find ways of promoting peace and development in the region.

Mr Erastus Mwencha, the deputy chair of the African Union Commission, said that if not dealt with urgently, the hostilities in Eastern Congo pose the greatest threat to peace in the region.

Mr Mwencha said all efforts must be put to ensure that ceasefire holds and that all civilians are protected.

Negotiating teams

“We must also put pressure on the negotiating teams, under the mediation of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Benjamin Mkapa, to come up with a lasting solution quickly,” he said.

“Both parties in the talks must negotiate in a constructive way and find a speedy resolution to this crisis that has the potential of threatening peace in the region.”

The AU official called on the international community to assist in bringing about peace and security in the region despite the current financial crisis.