AFRICA/CONGO RD - “Mercenaries ready to intervene in east Congo” say Fides sources in Bukavu

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Bukavu (Fides Service)-“At the moment all is calm but for how long?” local observers in Bukavu, main town in the eastern Kivu region of Democratic Congo told Fides over the phone. “There are rumours of fighting along the road to Goma, in north Kivu” the sources told Fides. Goma is the stronghold of the hardest and most intransigent wing of the RCD Goma (Union Congolese for Democracy), the main group of rebels mainly Banyamulenge Tutsi stemming from Rwanda who settled in north and south Kivu decade ago.
RCD Goma accepted to take part in the process of peace and national unification: its troops will be absorbed into a new national unity army comprising the different armed groups which fought a civil war 1998-2003 and it has representatives in the interim parliament. However persisting extremist elements in the movement threaten to undermine the peace process.
“If efforts for mediation fail, the sides will probably take up arms once again” the sources told Fides. Fear of more violence, according to international media, is pushing several thousand civilians to evacuate Goma, seeking safety in nearby Rwanda and other parts of Congo. “We hear that South African mercenaries have been recruited to back the RCD” the sources told Fides. “We have the impression that the sides are preparing for battle in case there is a failure of the peace accords reached in 2003 which foresaw elections in 2005. The international community must help us prevent the outbreak of another civil war in Congo” our sources conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 27/7/2004 righe 26 parole 302)