Kivu Peace Conference
The peace conference in the Kivus is scheduled to begin on January 6, 2008. On Thursday, December 27, 2007 preparations began as the conference was originally scheduled to begin on this date but was rescheduled to begin on the 6th and end on the 14th of January.
The conference initiated by president Kabila aims to put an end to the conflict in the east of the country. However, there is little expectation from civil society and progressive forces that this conference will bring an end to the conflict. As long as Laurent Nkunda is armed and controls territory in North Kivu, peace will be fleeting.
The very organizing of the conference is seen as a capitulation by the Kabila government and armed forces of the Congo. Kabila had promised in September that he would pursue a military option to route Nkunda and his National Council for the Defense of People (CNDP). However, the 20,000 Congolese Armed Forces dispatched to the east were not able to route Nkunda's 4,000 rebel forces. A number of observers have indicated that the military leadership at the highest level of the Congolese army betrayed the armed forces which resulted in a couple thousand soldiers dead and the loss of substantial material and equipment. Kabila is now under enormous pressure from the international community to find a political solution to the conflict.