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The BBC's Helen Vesperini
"The joint rebel statement slams what it calls the bias shown by certain Security Council members."
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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 22:20 GMT 23:20 UK
UN optimistic over Congo
UN Security Council delegation
The ambassadors are optimistic, but worries exist
By UN correspondent Mike Donkin

The corner may have been turned in the search for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a high-powered team of United Nations ambassadors just back from a tour of central Africa.

The delegation has told the UN Security Council it is cautiously optimistic that neighbouring countries will withdraw their troops from Congo, and that the new president, Joseph Kabila, will be able to hold the line.

But worries were also expressed, especially over the co-operation of some rebel factions.

DR Congo President, Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila seems ready to restore peace and democracy
The Security Council mission concluded that, for the first time since the outbreak of Congo's bitter civil war, the outline of a solution is taking shape.

Kabila promising

The 12 UN ambassadors said they drew their hopes from talks with President Kabila.

Mr Kabila, they said, seemed ready to restore peace and democracy to his shattered country.

What the team called "belligerent forces" from neighbouring states have disengaged on the front lines, and a ceasefire has been held for four months.

Rebels reluctant

However, the report warned, there were still some serious obstacles.

A 6-year-old malnourished child in Congo
Three million are thought to have died, most of hunger
The ambassadors met one rebel leader who, they said, showed reluctance to pull back his troops. Another faction chief failed to turn up to a meeting. The momentum for peace could easily be lost, the delegation warned.

The people of Congo are paying the price as their country teeters between war and peace. Three million are thought to have died, most of hunger, when they were cut off from their lands.

The UN mission noted that as foreign forces withdrew, civilians would still be at risk, unless President Kabila could ensure security and efficient civil administration.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council he would dispatch more human rights monitors to help ensure a safe transition.

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See also:

20 May 01 | Africa
UN warned of DR Congo 'genocide'
18 Jan 01 | Business
Congo economy 'ravaged' by conflict
18 May 01 | Africa
Foreign workers abducted in Congo
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