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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
DR Congo militias accept army
Congolese policemen
A group of policemen sent to Bunia earlier this year fled the fighting
Militia groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to the deployment of national police and army forces in the troubled north-eastern Ituri province.

The leaders of five militia groups also reaffirmed their commitment to a peace agreement signed in the town of Bunia in March.

The militia leaders issued their statement after a meeting in the capital, Kinshasa, organised by the United Nations mission in the country, Monuc.

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in recent years in bitter fighting between rival ethnic groups - the Hema and Lendu - in the gold-rich Ituri province.

A UN force is due take over peacekeeping in Ituri from a French-led European Union force on 1 September.

A group of Congolese policemen sent to Bunia earlier this year ran away when the ethnic fighting escalated.


The new national power-sharing government has sent a team to the former rebel headquarters of Goma in the east to help reunite the country after almost five years of war.

A priority for the new government is said to be the reconstruction of Goma's airport, which was damaged by last year's volcano eruption.

"We are beginning to reconstruct the country. Congolese people should not need to travel to Rwanda to catch their flights," Information Minister Vital Kamhere told Reuters news agency.

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