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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 20:41 GMT
DR Congo rebels sign ceasefire
Congolese refugees
Tens of thousands are said to have been displaced

Rebel leaders controlling north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to end a fortnight of fighting for the mineral-rich town of Beni, near the border with Uganda.
Jean-Pierre Bemba
Jean-Pierre Bemba blamed Congo's president for provoking the crisis

Aid agencies say that tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict between the rival factions.

Last month most groups signed a power-sharing agreement to end Congo's four year war, but fighting in several parts of the country has since escalated.

The battle for the strategic and wealthy town of Beni started only hours after the agreement was concluded.

Undermined hopes

UN peacekeepers reported that as many as 75,000 people have since been forced to flee their villages as troops and militiamen of at least three rebel factions clashed in the north-eastern corner of Congo that borders Uganda.

Now, under UN pressure, leaders of the rebel groups have agreed to lay down their weapons and observe an immediate ceasefire.

The deal was signed in Gbadolite, the northern jungle headquarters of the largest faction involved in the fighting, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

Its leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, blamed Congo President Joseph Kabila for provoking the crisis, which has undermined hopes that the two men would soon be working together, as they promised, in a government of national unity.


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25 Dec 02 | Africa
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