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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Fresh fighting in DR Congo
Rwandan army in DR Congo
The Rwandan army have a large presence in eastern DR Congo
There has been an outbreak of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in a further violation of an already shaky ceasefire.

According to the UN the fighting has centred around the town of Fizi, which is on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika.


General Mountaga Diallo of the UN mission told a news conference that fighting had escalated between the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy and unidentified armed groups in South Kivu Province.

The UN say the Mai Mai militia, Hutu Interahamwe militia from Rwanda and rebels from Burundi are all present in the area.

The RCD lost control of Fizi earlier this month and had vowed to recapture it.

'Troop movements'

The French news agency, AFP, quoted General Diallo as saying that there were "fairly sizeable troop movements" of the Rwandan army in Kivu.

The UN's special envoy in DR Congo, Amos Namanga Ngongi, told AFP: "The ceasefire is not really respected" in areas under the control of the RCD rebels.

Meanwhile, UN spokesman George Ola Davis, who is trying to mediate a settlement of the conflict, says there is unanimous agreement that the Mai-Mai militia group be allowed to attend next month's talks about the country's future in Addis Ababa.

UN soldiers in DR Congo
The UN says the ceasefire is not respected in some rebel areas

The spokesman said representatives from the Congolese government, rebel factions, opposition groups and others from civil society had agreed that the government-backed tribal militia be given a place at the talk.

He said the mediator, Sir Ketumile Masire, would now determine what sort of delegation the Mai-Mai can send.

The move comes two days after the group demanded that it be included in the talks, which will draw up a new constitution and consider how to unify the various regions of the country.

The Mai-Mai are a loose grouping of Congolese tribes mainly opposed to the Rwandan presence in Congo, but also keen on establishing their own region in the east of the country.

Talks

Reports of the violence followed talks between Rwandan President, Paul Kagame and President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Malawi.

Mr Kagame had said at the end of the meeting that he would pull his troops out of DR Congo only if the Hutu Interahamwe militia on the eastern border areas were disarmed and demobilised.

President Muluzi of Malawi is encouraging the two sides to keep talking and said that a ministerial follow-up committee to the talks would be created.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose country is also involved in the war, is expected in Malawi on Saturday, when Mr Muluzi says he will brief him on the talks.

Mr Muluzi is the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community.

Largest conflict

About 2,000 UN troops are already in DR Congo to help monitor the ceasefire and a withdrawal of foreign soldiers from the frontline.

The next phase of the UN operation involves the deployment of more troops to begin a programme of voluntary disarmament.

Diplomatic efforts to seek to resolve Africa's largest conflict have intensified since the beginning of September with the visit by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

See also:

25 Jul 01 | Africa
Interahamwe: A spent force?
27 Sep 01 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks end early
17 Jul 01 | Africa
UN praises Congo advances
24 Jul 01 | Africa
Congo rejects UN co-ordinator
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