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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
DR Congo troop exodus praised
Rwandan soldiers
The Rwandans are getting out of DR Congo
More over 15,000 foreign troops have withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past three weeks, says the United Nations.

The countries with troops in the country "are keeping their word" and withdrawing as set out in the peace deals concluded with the DR Congo, according to Namanga Ngongi, the UN secretary general's representative in DR Congo.


The way it looks, even Rwanda, which has the most troops of all the foreign armies in Congo, will be out by the end of the week

UN's Namanga Ngongi

Rwanda signed a peace accord with the Kinshasa government in July in Pretoria and has said that it is on course to pull all of its troops out of the east of the country by the end of the week.

Seven African countries sent forces into DR Congo in 1998 when rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda launched a war against the government of Laurent Kabila.

It was described as Africa's first world war.

Rwandan, Uganda and Burundi backed the rebels fighting the government - but said they were involved because the DR Congo was supporting rebels fighting their governments.

Rwandans leave DR Congo
Crowds in Bukavu watch the Rwandans go

Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Chad sent in troops to support the government.

As the troops pull out, representatives of unarmed opposition groups in DR Congo arrived in South Africa for talks on the future of the country and the RCD rebel group in eastern Congo said it was ready for talks with the Mai-Mai militia, with whom they have been fighting in Kindu

Out by end of the week

The UN representative said that 10,233 Rwandans, 2,287 Ugandans, 700 Burundians and 2,092 Zimbabweans had pulled out already.

"The way it looks, even Rwanda, which has the most troops of all the foreign armies in Congo, will be out by the end of the week," Mr Ngongi said, according to the Associated Press agency.

The agency said that at the height of the war, Rwandan had 23,400 troops in DR Congo.

On Wednesday, news agencies reported that the Burundi army had started withdrawing troops from positions it held on the north-western shore of Lake Tanganyika. Burundi had said the troops were there to stop infiltration into Burundi by Hutu rebels in DR Congo.

As the troops pull out, fears have been expressed by the French and Rwandan governments of a power vacuum and factional fighting in eastern Congo.

There have already been serious clashes between forces of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) and the Mai-Mai militia, which at times has supported the government in Kinshasa.

On Wednesday, Moise Nyarugabo of the RCD told the French news agency AFP that his group was ready for talks with Mai-Mai.

"What we say is that the fight against the Mai-Mai no longer has any sense.

"They no longer have any reason to fight since the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese territory," he said.

He said that some talks had already begun between the two groups but gave no further details.

On Friday, representatives of the civilian opposition groups in DR Congo are to meet President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa "as part of the ongoing dialogue to find peace," according to South Africa's ambassador to DR Congo.

President Mbeki has been playing a mediatory role in DR Congo and helped arrange the Rwanda-DR Congo peace deal.


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24 Sep 02 | Africa
23 Sep 02 | Africa
21 Sep 02 | Africa
19 Sep 02 | Africa
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