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Is the War Over in Congo? Go Ask Alice, I Think She'll Know

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Which wire service should we believe as the Western World turns in for the night on Tuesday January 21, 2008 and the sun is about to rise over Congo?

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GOMA, Congo, Jan 21, 2008 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Congo's government and rebel generals have ended an insurgency that displaced more than 450,000 people in the past year.

But, MONUC reports this:

GOMA, Congo, Jan 21--Dozens of civilians were killed during fighting between rebels and militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, both sides said Saturday, as a peace conference proposed declaring the area a "disaster zone."

As the two-week peace conference on the troubled Nord and Sud-Kivu provinces drew to a close ahead of a formal finish on Monday, draft proposals suggested declaring an emergency, demanding the reestablishment of state authority in the war-torn region and putting together a reconstruction plan.

The conference in Goma -- attended by around 1,300 delegates from ethnic groups, elected officials, armed militias and civil society -- is expected to debate a full slate of recommendations on Sunday, before signing them off Monday.

Delegates from the conference's development commission suggested better incorporating all minorities into public life, whilst security officials wanted better border protection, and officials from Nord-Kivu suggested ethnic quotas in the state army.

Meanwhile, both sides blamed each other for the violence which is believed to have killed dozens of civilians in the past 24 hours.

And AFP has this report:

GOMA, Congo Jan 21 (AFP) - A conference aimed at ending conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was prolonged Monday as rival sides sought agreement, organisers said.
The gathering at a university in Goma, the main town of Nord-Kivu province near some of the conflict zones, was due to end on Monday, but its president, Apollinaire Malu Malu, said another day would be needed.

"We are in the final phase, before resolutions are set down and a commitment is made by the armed groups," Malu Malu, a Roman Catholic priest, told AFP, saying that more talks were being held.

Finally, Reuters has this spin:

GOMA, Congo Jan 21 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's government and warring rebel and militia factions will sign a deal on Tuesday to end fighting in the country's conflict-torn east, government officials and diplomats said on Monday.

The agreement, which will include a ceasefire, was announced following more than two weeks of talks in Goma, capital of eastern North Kivu province, that brought together government officials, local leaders and rival armed factions.

"(A ceasefire) will be signed tomorrow at the closing ceremony," Vital Kamerhe, spokesman for the peace conference and head of Congo's lower house of parliament, told Reuters.

Delegates at the United Nations-backed conference aimed at bringing peace, security and development to the strife-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have discussed the possibility of amnesty for certain belligerents, including dissident General Laurent Nkunda.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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