Officials: Kerry taps ex-senator for Africa post

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Tuesday that he has chosen former Sen. Russ Feingold as the new U.S. special representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa and the ongoing crisis in the Congo.

Congo’s government and rebels, known as the M23, have been negotiating in Uganda since December under a regional bloc, but the talks have often been set back by accusations over who is responsible for rampant violence in Congo’s North Kivu province.

“The suffering in the Great Lakes region of Africa and the ongoing crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to trouble all of us greatly,” Kerry told reporters. “We are convinced that we have to help the parties find a path to a lasting peace, to a permanent cessation of hostilities and to the disarmament and demobilization of M23, accountability for human rights abuses and, finally, a breaking down of the barriers that are standing between humanitarian aid and the civilians who need it.”

Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, chaired the Africa subcommittee when Kerry was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Feingold succeeds R. Barrie Walkley, who has been the special representative since December 2011.

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Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Matthew Lee contributed to this report

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