NOTE: Some graphic content in FLASH presentation
"We have decided to postpone the stop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, confirming reports on Wednesday that a cancellation was likely.
Rice would have been the highest ranking US official to visit the DRC since 1997.
Aside from logistical reasons, Rice, who was scheduled to make only a brief stopover in Kinshasa, wanted to spend more time in Congo, said a State Department official Wednesday.
A future Congo trip could be even part of a longer visit to Africa, the official said. State Department diplomats have been speaking for months about the possibility of a major African tour for Rice, the first African-American woman to serve as US Secretary of State.
This translates into more empty promises for the people of Congo and Africa.
An International Peace Conference, sponsored by the United Nations Association of San Diego and Friends for Peace in Africa (FPA), was held two weeks ago in San Diego and featured keynote speaker Professor Amii-Omara Otunnu, the North American UNESCO Chairholder in Comparative Human Rights.
Keith Harmon Snow, an award-winning investigative journalist, also spoke about the causes of conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
During the evening dinner, people heard testimony from people representing FPA, CEGUN (Campaign to End Genocide in Uganda Now), Amnesty International, and Alliance for African Assistance. One of these speeches, by Ochan Otim (President FPA), was an illustration of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni regime’s brutal attacks on Acholi civilians in Northern Uganda.
The keynote address by Amii-Omara Otunnu, D.Phil. (Oxon.), UNESCO Chair and Professor, outlined the roots of instability in Africa, with a specific focus on Uganda.
FPA is a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to assist conflict groups in Africa. Their current focus is the 21-year old war in northern Uganda where more than 2 million people have been interned in relocation camps.
Jan England, United Nations' Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, has categorized the situation in Uganda as "the worst forgotten humanitarian crisis in the world--worse than Iraq."