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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Ugandan troops leave Congo town
Rwandan soldiers dismantle a gun
Rwandan forces are also pulling out
Uganda begins its pull out of troops from Gbadolite, the hometown of former President Mobutu Sese Seko, in the north west of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Will Ross told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that he witnessed some 170 departing troops being flown out on a cargo plane on Monday to Gulu in northern Uganda, where the government is struggling to contain attacks from Lord's Resistance Army rebels.

The final 300 or so soldiers in the north west are expected to leave in the next few days.

The Ugandans have backed the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) of Jean Pierre Bemba during the country's four year war, but two weeks ago struck a deal to withdraw its forces by the end of the year.

The Ugandans say they have already pulled their forces out of Beni - but will retain a force in Bunia, which has seen fierce local clashes, until the UN can improve their security presence there.

Congolese rebel groups, backed by Uganda and Rwanda, have been fighting government forces backed principally by Angola and Zimbabwe, who also have troops in the DR Congo.

One Ugandan soldier told journalists he had mixed feelings about leaving Gbadolite because he would have to leave behind an 18-month baby and a pregnant Congolese wife.

"The order is we can't take them with us. I am not happy about that but an order is an order," he said.

Rwanda

The Rwandan army is also in the middle of withdrawing its forces from eastern DR Congo under the terms of the latest peace deal - though it has a much bigger presence.


Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo showing areas of control
War in DR Congo
Uganda:
1,600 troops
Rwanda:
Up to 20,000 troops
Zimbabwe:
2,400 troops

Rwandan forces withdrew from Kindu last week, but heavy shooting between Congolese groups broke out just hours later.

Rwandan forces have now started withdrawing their forces from four towns in northern Katanga - Kalemie, Kongolo, Kabalo and Nyunzu.

They will then start on what is probably the trickiest leg of the operation - the pull-out from the Kivu provinces which border Rwanda and which are home to militia responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe pulled its troops out of the key mining town of Mbuji Mayi in DR Congo as a response to promises from Uganda and Rwanda to withdraw.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Will Ross
"They left with quite a lot of weaponry"

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21 Sep 02 | Africa
09 Sep 02 | Africa
20 Sep 02 | Africa
19 Sep 02 | Africa
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