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Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 15:59 GMT
Rwanda pulls out of Congolese town
Rwandan troops
Rwanda's 2,000 troops left Pweto with speed
Rwandan troops have left the Democratic Republic of Congo border town of Pweto.

The withdrawal of 2,000 soldiers to Pepa, 200km north-east of Pweto, is part of Rwanda's attempt to show it is serious about peace in the DR Congo.

United Nations officials overseeing the UN mission in Congo welcomed the withdrawal as "giving peace a real chance".

Map of DRC
Rwanda, along with Uganda, has been backing rebels in their two-and-a-half year conflict with the Congolese government in Kinshasa.

Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe are backing the DR Congo governemnt in the war.

UN plan

On 22 February the UN Security Council said that all the warring parties should pull back 15 km from frontlines by 15 March.

Uganda has also been withdrawing its troops and some are returning home to Uganda.

UN Brigadier-General Njuki Mwaniki said that he is very optimistic about the prospects for peace.

"After visiting all capitals and speaking to leaders of various [rebel] movements, I am convinced that a genuine commitment to peace exists," he said.

A peace agreement was signed in the Zambian capital Lusaka in 1999 but has not, until now, been implemented.

Hopes high

Since Joseph Kabila assumed power, following the assassination of his father, hopes have risen that the stalled peace process could be reactivated.

UN offical
The United Nations has been monitoring the withdrawal
Both Rwanda and Uganda say they are withdrawing their troops to show that they are serious about peace.

Ugandan army commander, Major-General Jeje Odongo, told the BBC that the troops were being brought back home because of what he described as the positive attitude of Joseph Kabila.

But Rwanda has vowed to return if their rebel allies, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, come under government attack.

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See also:

28 Feb 01 | Africa
Troops withdraw from DR Congo
16 Jan 01 | Africa
DR Congo's troubled history
26 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
21 Feb 01 | Africa
UN finds Congo child soldiers
23 Feb 01 | Africa
Congo pull-back plan welcomed
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