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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
DR Congo deal on horizon
A child waves goodbye to the Rwandan soldiers
The Rwandans withdrew under a UN-brokered deal
The Democratic Republic of Congo's biggest rebel movement says it has reached a preliminary agreement with the government on both a ceasefire and the political future of the country.

The Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) said the deal outlines a power-sharing agreement and the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

This follows the withdrawal from the country of their principal backers, the Rwandan army, which was completed at the weekend.

More than 20,000 Rwandan troops have been in DR Congo over the past four years, backing RCD rebels against the government.

The talks in South Africa, mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki and the United Nations envoy for Congo, Moustapha Niasse, began two weeks ago.

RCD foreign affairs spokesman Kristin told AFP news agency there was no definite agreement bu an "agreement in principle".

Sisa Ngombane, South Africa's ambassador to Kinshasa, said there was some movement at the talks "but nothing concrete yet".

Deal

The last 1,000 Rwandan soldiers, deployed around the border town of Goma, marched across the frontier into Rwanda on Saturday morning.

Departing Rwanda soldiers
The last 1,000 troops had been stationed in the border region
The withdrawal was agreed under a deal signed in July by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila - son of the late Laurent Kabila.

Rwandan army chief Major General James Kabarebe said in return for the withdrawal, his country now expected the UN and the Congolese government to disarm Rwandan Hutu extremists still hiding in DR Congo.

Rebel fighters and traditional warriors known as the Mai-Mai were reported to have clashed on Sunday in the eastern town of Uvira.

Regional withdrawal

The conflict - sometimes known as Africa's first world war - broke out in 1998, when Rwanda and Uganda sent thousands of troops to back the Congolese rebels.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent soldiers to back the government of the late Laurent Kabila, the current president's father.

Other countries also sent troops to DR Congo during the conflict.

Namibia says it has already withdrawn its troops and Angola is believed to have only a small number left inside the country.

Zimbabwe, which had an estimated 12,000 soldiers in DR Congo, is expected to formally announce the withdrawal of all of its troops at a ceremony in Kinshasa next week.

Uganda has withdrawn all but 1,000 of its troops. Those remaining are in the troubled north-eastern city of Bunia at the request of the UN observer mission to DR Congo.

In recent weeks the city has been the scene of heavy fighting among various ethnic groups.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Helen Vesperini talking to Focus on Africa
The army chief of staff pointed at the last man and said "behind this one there are no more Rwandan troops left in Congo now"

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03 Oct 02 | Africa
24 Sep 02 | Africa
23 Sep 02 | Africa
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