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Robinson tipped for UN peace role in Africa

FORMER President Mary Robinson is the top candidate to become a UN peace envoy to central Africa.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants to give her the role in Africa's Great Lakes region, where she would help implement a peace deal.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a UN official told Reuters news agency: "She is the front-runner and is very likely to get the job, but it's not a done deal yet."

Mrs Robinson (68) was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, a post she took up after serving almost seven years as Ireland's president.

UN sources said Ban Ki-moon hoped to make an announcement soon, though there was a possibility that Mrs Robinson would decline the post.

A spokesman for Mrs Robinson's foundation, Climate Justice, declined to comment.

UN peacekeepers in Congo have been stretched thin by the 'M23' rebellion in the resource-rich east. A UN expert panel has said that the armed group was supported by Rwanda and Uganda, though both countries have strongly denied it.



The Secretary-General said a special envoy would seek to help governments in the region "reach agreements and establish mechanisms to guarantee non-interference in the internal affairs of the neighbouring states".

The Security Council has been contemplating a special intervention force, which would be able to 'search and destroy' the M23 rebels.

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.

African leaders signed a UN-mediated regional accord late last month aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern Congo and paving the way for the intervention force.