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Great Lakes
Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 09:28 GMT
Congo peace deal signed
Ninja fighters
Some 150,000 people have fled fighting in the Pool region

The Congo Government has signed two agreements with rebels to help end fighting in the south-western Pool region.

The leader of the Ninja rebels, Frederic Bitsangou, also known as Pasteur Ntumi, agreed to end hostilities, collect weapons, and to allow the restoration of free movement and the rule of law.

The government promised to ensure that Ninja fighters who gave up their arms would benefit from a four-year-old amnesty law.

A survey recently found that Brazzaville was the worst place in the world to live, largely because of the continued insecurity in the Pool region which surrounds the capital.

Food aid

The documents were signed at a ceremony in the capital, Brazzaville, by government minister Daniel Mahoulouba and a representative of the Ninja leader.

Fighting broke out in Pool a year ago.

The Ninjas are the remnants of a militia group active in the civil wars in the late 1990s, originally loyal to former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas.

In January, the United Nations warned that it was running our of food aid for the 150,000 people who had fled fighting in Pool.

A year ago, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso was re-elected after his main rivals were barred from the poll.

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