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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Deal seeks end to Africa's 'world war'
Rwanda soldiers
Rwandan troops entered DR Congo in 1998
The signing of a peace pact to end a four-year-old war between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda is expected to take place early next week.


It will be signed on Tuesday (next week).

Bene M'Poko, Congolese ambassador
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been leading the latest mediation efforts, said his Congolese and Rwandan counterparts were keen to sign a peace deal as quickly as possible.

Under a memorandum of understanding agreed last Monday, Rwanda promised to withdraw 20,000 soldiers it has in DR Congo within three months.

In return, the Congolese authorities will track down and disarm Hutu militias on Congolese soil who were behind the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

The deal is to be overseen and verified by both South Africa and the United Nations.

Genocide

Correspondents say President Joseph Kabila and President Paul Kagame are likely to sign the pact in the South African capital, Pretoria, next Tuesday.

President Joseph Kabila
DR Congo's president has agreed to disarm Hutu militias in DR Congo

"It will be signed on Tuesday (next week)," Congolese ambassador in Pretoria Bene M'Poko told Reuters news agency.

Joseph Karemera, Rwanda's ambassador, also confirmed the new date:

"It has been delayed because the signing ceremony will bring in several heads of state and synchronising their programmes has not been easy," he said.

Uganda, which supports the second biggest rebel group, welcomed the peace deal on Thursday.

But Rwandan Hutu militia fighters, whose presence in DR Congo's eastern jungles has been portrayed as a huge obstacle to ending Africa's biggest war, said earlier they would defy a deal that would make them return to a homeland where they are accused of genocide.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda
Rwanda's president will agree to withdraw 20,000 soldiers from DR Congo

Analysts warn that it will require serious commitment from all sides to end a war fuelled by plundering of DR Congo's vast natural resources

They say that disarming militiamen roving remote jungles will be no easy task.

However, as South Africa annouced the Pretoria deal, 21 Hutu rebels inside the DR Congo voluntarily gave up their arms and surrendered to the UN mission there, AFP news agency reported.

UN officials said the rebels had also agreed to return Rwanda.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Joseph Karemera on BBC Network Africa
"What we have agreed is tentative"

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23 Jul 02 | Africa
22 Jul 02 | Africa
17 Jul 02 | Africa
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23 Jul 02 | Africa
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