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Kabila suspends mining in eastern DRC

media A bullet riddled sign marks the entrance to Virunga National Park in eastern …

President Joseph Kabila has decided to suspend mining in three provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a minister in one of the provinces said Friday.

"The head of state has taken the decision to suspend mining in the three provinces," D'Assise Masika, the mining minister of one of the provinces affected, Nord Kivu.   Kabila wanted to clean up the sector and give the local people better living conditions, he added.

Rebel groups who prey on the local populations in Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu and Maniema, also control the lucrative mining activities in the region.  

Masika was speaking on the phone from Goma, provincial capital in Nord Kivu, which Kabila is currently visiting.

Daniel Balint-Kurti , Global Witness 12/09/2010 - by Nicola Fathers Listen
We'll have to see if Kabila has a way of enforcing this ban in reality

An official presidential statement would be published in the near future, the minister added.

Nord Kivu and Sud Kivu are rich in cassiterite and coltan, the minerals used in the West to build telephones, computers and games consoles. It also has some reserves of gold.

Among the armed groups running illegal mining operations there are the Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), considered one of the main sources of instability in the region.

Atul Khare, under secretary general for peacekeeping operations, on Tuesday blamed the FDLR and the allies, the local Mai Mai militia for a series of mass rapes in the region in July and August.

Officers of the DR Congo army and members of other rebel groups have also been accused of exploiting the mines. 

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