"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spanish UN force commander in DR Congo Lt. Gen. Vicente Diaz de Villegas resigns after 7 weeks in job

Now Congo becomes another "unexpected" hotspot the commander of U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo resigned on Tuesday after just seven weeks in the job.

Lt. Gen. Vicente Diaz de Villegas of the Spanish contingent "has indicated that for personal reasons he will not be able to continue with his assignment as planned," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas told a regular news briefing. Ghanain Brig.-Gen. Ishmeel Ben Quartey is acting as commander meanwhile. Pic shows Diaz being welcomed in post by UN Sec Gen Ban Ki-Moon.

His appointment as force commander for the U.N. mission in Congo (17,000 strong - the biggest UN military force in the field anywhere ) , known by its French acronym MONUC, was announced on September 9.

The 1998-2003 war was a humanitarian disaster in which it is guessed 5.4 million people died, mainly from hunger and disease.

Congolese Tutsi insurgents of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) loyal to renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda advanced towards the strategic eastern city of Goma on Monday after launching a new offensive over the weekend. Local people angered by the fighting rioted at the U.N. base in the town, and one person was killed, a U.N. spokesman said.
It is claimed by some a civilian was killed by US forces.

Fighters overran an army base at Kibumba on Sunday north of Goma. Rebel rockets destroyed two MONUC armored vehicles during Sunday's clashes, wounding several UN peacekeepers.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is extremely concerned.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said on Wednesday that France was interested in sending troops, but the EU's Solana wouldn't hear of it. This was a resurrection of the French-led Artemis team sent in 2003 to Bunia in Ituri.

The head of the UN Mission in the Congo, Alan Doss, spoke Tuesday with the Press by video link from Kinshasa. He chided Congolese locals for protesting against MONUC inaction or retreat, urging them to understand the Mission's mandate.

Joe Bavier, a freelance journalist working in North Kivu, told Al Jazeera that the anti-government offensive was rapidly taking control of territory.

"For the last few days we have had fighting just north of the provincial capital, Goma. That calmed a bit, but now there has been a fresh offensive by the rebels, pushing north along the main road out of Goma towards Rutshuru," he said.

"Rutshuru is one of four urban areas that MONUC has vowed to defend at all costs. Today UN humanitarian workers are preparing to evacuate the town.

"We are still trying to verify whether the town has fallen into the hands of the rebels."

The scale of humanitarian losses is that some 250,000 civilians have fled their homes in North Kivu since a very flaky peace deal collapsed in August.

The UN says that about 850,000 people had been displaced in two years of sporadic fighting before a previous peace deal was signed in January.

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