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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Foreign troops begin Congo pullout
Foreign troops in Congo
Troops from many African countries fought in DR Congo
The UN says Uganda and Zimbabwe have begun pulling out their troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


We hope all the parties will do the same.

Hamadoun Toure, UN spokesman

A UN spokesman in the DR Congo says both nations - which supported opposing sides of the civil war - have withdrawn hundreds of troops in recent days.

Uganda first sent troops into Congo in 1998 - together with Rwanda - in support of rebels seeking to oust the then president, Laurent Kabila.

Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent in troops to support the government.

Uganda pull-out

"We hope all the parties will do the same," Hamadoun Toure, UN mission spokesman in Congo, told Associated Press news agency.

"We very much hope in the days to come the foreign military presence will become no more than a memory."

Earlier, a Ugandan army spokesman, Shaban Bantariza, said that the withdrawal of all Ugandan troops would probably be complete in a week's time.

Congolese rebels
DR Congo has numerous competing rebel groups

Mr Toure confirmed that Uganda withdrew 242 of its estimated 2,000 troops in Congo on Tuesday from the town of Beni in rebel-held northeast Congo.

He also said more Uganda troops have left the northern town of Gbadolite - although their number was not known.

A year ago, Uganda said it had withdrawn most of its troops from Congo.

However, Kampala later sent other soldiers back to quell tribal fighting in the north-east of Congo.

The latest withdrawal comes two weeks after senior officials from the two countries agreed on a pull-out of Ugandan forces.

Zimbabwe troops

Likewise, Zimbabwe has brought home hundreds of troops from west Congo which is controlled by the government forces, Mr Toure said.

Zimbabwe was believed to have 12,000 troops in Congo.

The UN mission in DR Congo says Namibia pulled out its relatively few troops last year.

Angola - once a major force on the government side of the war - now has only a 'symbolic' troop presence in Congo, the UN says.

Peace deal signed in South Africa
The peace deal was supposed to end bilateral conflict

Only Rwanda - with an estimated 30,000 troops in east Congo - has yet to move toward compliance with promises to pull out after the presidents of the two countries signed a peace pact on 30 July to end hostilities.

Under the pact, DR Congo pledged to disarm and send home Rwandan rebels based on its soil, in return for Rwanda's pledge to pull out its troops.

However, neither Rwanda nor Congo has made any major new move to carry it out - each accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Aid agencies say the war in DR Congo has killed 2.5 million people - most of them having succumbed to disease and famine caused or worsened by the conflict.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Major Bantariza interviewed for Focus on Africa
"We were not meant to stay forever in Congo"

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28 Aug 02 | Africa
23 Aug 02 | Africa
13 Aug 02 | Africa
11 Aug 02 | Africa
30 Jul 02 | Africa
23 Jul 02 | Africa
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