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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Ugandan troops leaving DR Congo
UN peacekeepers in DR Congo
The UN has deployed peacekeepers in DR Congo
A key backer of the rebels in the two and a half year Democratic of Congo war is to start withdrawing its troops from most of its positions.

Uganda's Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya said the cabinet had ordered a pullout from 10 northern Congolese towns that "will start immediately".


However, Uganda will maintain a presence in the northeastern towns of Buta and Bunia to deter rebel attacks on Uganda territory.

Uganda also said it would remain a party to the Lusaka Peace Agreement after earlier threatening to withdraw following a UN report that accused Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and their rebel allies of massive looting of the Congo's natural resources.

About 5,000 Uganda troops are estimated to have withdrawn from DR Congo in the past year.

Rwanda

Uganda's comments come after surprise talks on Monday involving Rwanda, the other main backer of the rebels, and Zimbabwe.

Presidents Paul Kagame and Robert Mugabe agreed in talks in Harare that they would push for a speedy end to the conflict.

Speaking after "a clear exchange of views" with President Mugabe, the Rwandan leader said he was cautiously optimistic about accelerating implementation of the Lusaka peace accord to end the fighting which has pulled in six foreign armies.

Ugandan and Rwandan troops have been in DR Congo since 1998 backing rival rebel groups fighting to overthrow the Congolese government, which is itself supported by troops from Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The UN is currently monitoring a 15 km pull back from the frontline of all combatants.

See also:

20 Apr 01 | Africa
Congo rebels allow UN to deploy
28 Feb 01 | Africa
Troops withdraw from DR Congo
26 Mar 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe hosts Kabila
02 Feb 01 | Africa
Kabila's whirlwind tour
16 Jan 01 | Africa
DR Congo's troubled history
26 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
02 May 01 | Africa
Congo war effects 'apocalyptic'
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