DR Congo UNbacked Governmentrebel talks making progress

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Talks between the Government and the mainly Tutsi group known as the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP) began last December, and the substantive phase kicked off yesterday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.Co-mediator Benjamin Mkapa, the former Tanzanian president who is representing the African Union (AU) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR), chaired today’s meeting and said the parties have made steady, albeit slow, progress on substantive issues.The escalating conflict between Government forces (FARDC) and the CNDP has uprooted an estimated 250,000 people since late August on top of the 800,000 already displaced in the region, mainly in North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda.Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and former Nigerian president, is currently holding consultations, including on the possibility of holding a gathering this month of the leaders of Great Lakes nations to update them on progress made so far and obstacles that remain in achieving peace between the Government and CNDP. He is expected to join the talks tomorrow.Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a work plan to contain Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, in the DRC’s Kasai Occidental province.It is estimated that 42 people – including at least 28 women and 14 children – are infected with Ebola, with 13 people having died of complications related to the virus and 160 others under watch.WHO staff and other relief workers will visit all parts of the province to sensitize the population on Ebola. 8 January 2009The latest round of United Nations-supported Government-rebel political negotiations seeking to quell the violence engulfing the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued today, with the co-chair reporting slow but steady progress.

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