U.N.'s Ban to name Ireland's Robinson as key Africa envoy - diplomats

UNITED NATIONS Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:12pm GMT

Former Irish president Mary Robinson attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

Former Irish president Mary Robinson attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Lauener

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council he plans to name former Irish President Mary Robinson as his envoy to Africa's Great Lakes region to oversee a peace deal aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Congo, diplomats said on Friday.

There were unlikely to be any objections to the appointment among the 15-member council, diplomats said. In addition to having been Ireland's president from 1990 to 1997, Robinson, 68, was the U.N. high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002.

Ban advised the Security Council in a letter of his intention to appoint Robinson as U.N. Great Lakes special envoy. Diplomats told Reuters on Monday that Robinson was a front-runner for the job.

African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated regional accord late last month aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern Congo and paving the way for the possible creation of a U.N. intervention force to combat armed groups.

Robinson will help oversee implementation of the peace deal.

U.N. peacekeepers in Congo have been stretched thin by the "M23" rebellion in the resource-rich east. A U.N. expert panel has said that M23 was supported by Rwanda and Uganda, although the two countries have denied it.

The Security Council is considering creating an intervention force, which one senior council diplomat has said would be able to "search and destroy" the M23 rebels and other armed groups in the country.

M23 began taking over parts of eastern Congo early last year, accusing the government of failing to honour a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels' integration into the army, but they have since deserted.

The Congolese government said on Monday it hoped to sign a peace deal with the M23 rebels by Friday, but a rebel leader said more talks were needed.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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