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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Rwanda's tanks leave DR Congo
Troops board plane
Rwanda has had troops in the east for four years

Rwanda is withdrawing a second battalion of troops from the town of Kindu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is part of the deal aimed at ending years of war in the vast Central African country.

The troops arriving in the Rwandan capital on Thursday follow the first battalion withdrawn on Tuesday and two cargo planes full of artillery which arrived on Wednesday.

The pullout operation will continue over the coming days and weeks until there are no more Rwandan forces on Congolese soil.


War in DR Congo

Uganda:
2,000 troops
Rwanda:
Up to 20,000 troops
Zimbabwe:
2,400 troops


One battalion of Rwandan troops and an impressive range of heavy artillery arrived in Kigali on Wednesday - pulled back from the town of Kindu in the jungles of eastern Congo.

Rwandan military sources say the withdrawal will be completed in due course given the country's financial and logistical limitations.

The troops withdrawn have been warned to stay on alert as they are leaving the enemy behind them.

By enemy, Rwanda means those people responsible for the 1994 genocide - members of the former national army and militia men.

Rwanda has long said it would not pull out of Congo as long as those elements continued to operate on Congolese soil.

Positive reaction

It changed its position last week, apparently anxious to show the outside world that its presence in Congo, far from being the root cause of that country's problems, had in fact been a stabilising factor.

Reaction so far to the Rwandan withdrawal has been cautiously favourable.

President Joseph Kabila
President Kabila has promised to disarm Rwandan rebels

The foreign minister of the Kinshasa government welcomed news of the move but asked the United Nations mission to Congo to verify it was actually happening, a fact that the UN has now confirmed.

The head of the African Unity Organisation, Amara Essy, hailed the news of the Rwandan pull-out and called on the international community to give its full support to the Congo Peace process.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Helen Vesperini
"The pull-out operation will continue over the coming days and weeks"
Rwandan spokesman Joseph Bideri on Network Africa
"We have invited observers to ensure we are doing what we promised"

Key stories

Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

17 Sep 02 | Africa
09 Sep 02 | Africa
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