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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK
DR Congo foes promise unity
French UN troops
French troops were sent to Bunia to end weeks of fighting
The United Nations says government and rebel representatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo have pledged to form a unified government by the end of this month.

The leader of the UN Security Council mission to DR Congo, French UN ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, says the pledge has been made by a committee made up of all the main parties in the war.

The establishment of a new government, which would rule for a transitional period of two months, could be a critical step in ending fighting in the country.

But fighting is still taking place in several parts of DR Congo, and the large-scale massacre of civilians is continuing.

Even the recent deployment of UN troops deployed to stop bitter ethnic fighting in the town of Bunia did not prevent a new round of clashes breaking out there.

UN mission

The promise of a unified government came after talks in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa between the French ambassador and the main military and political players in the country.

Mr de la Sabliere is leading a mission to the Great Lakes by ambassadors of the 15 members of the security council.

But the BBC's correspondent Mark Doyle, who is in Kinshasa, says even if the new government is formed in the coming weeks, it is difficult to see how the fighting could end quickly.

He says much of it involves unemployed youths who know no other way of life.

Congo rebels
Rival rebel groups are trying to assert their control in North Kivu

Our correspondent adds that for any peace to last, there would have to be a combination of good government - which the DR Congo has never known - and the proper harnessing of Congo's vast natural resources.

In recent fighting in North Kivu province between the rebel RCD-Goma and the RCD-Ml groups, thousands of people have been fleeing the town of Lubero, some 250 kilometres south-west of Bunia.

It represents a separate conflict to that between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias around Bunia.

On the first day of the UN peace mission to the DR Congo, Congolese Foreign Minister Leonard She Okintundu condemned the neighbouring states of Uganda and Rwanda for allegedly pillaging the east of the country.

Three million deaths

French troops have been arriving in Bunia to try to end weeks of violence there.

About 200 troops have now arrived in the battered town of Bunia, where civilians are in hiding after a series of massacres in the surrounding Ituri region.

A total of 1,400 soldiers are due to arrive in Bunia over the next few days.

The war in DR Congo - a country the size of western Europe - is estimated to have led to the deaths of three million people in the past five years.


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