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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK


World: Africa

Rwanda declares Congo ceasefire

Rwanda and Uganda say they are protecting their own borders

Rwanda says it is declaring a unilateral ceasefire with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has been backing rebels fighting to oust President Laurent Kabila.

The Foreign Minister, Amri Sued Ismael, said the ceasefire would take effect from midnight local time.

He said the aim of the move was to enhance the chances of a negotiated settlement to the Congolese conflict.

But he said that, for the ceasefire to be effective, "it would have to be respected by all sides in the conflict and include a troop standstill and cessation of all military activities."

There was no immediate reaction from any of the three Congolese rebel groups.

Rebel advances

The rebels have captured the eastern third of the country since they took up arms last August, with the help of troops and equipment from both Rwanda and Uganda.

They accuse President Kabila of nepotism, corruption and ethnic warmongering.


[ image: Congolese troops - under attack]
Congolese troops - under attack
Both Rwanda and Uganda have said they sent soldiers to Congo to secure their own borders from armed groups operating in the east. They have blamed the government in Kinshasa for neglecting to secure the areas.

Ugandan withdrawal reported

The Rwandan statement came as the independent Ugandan newspaper Monitor reported that troops from that country had pulled out of areas it controlled inside Congo.

On Thursday, about 40 Libyan troops arrived unexpectedly in Uganda. They announced that they were part of a peacekeeping initiative agreed at a meeting last month between the Ugandan and Congolese presidents aimed at bringing an end to the war.

The Ugandan Defence Minister, Stephen Kavuma, said he was not expecting the Libyans so soon, but they had been given clearance to land so that they could be questioned.

While Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have been supporting the rebel forces in Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Chad are backing President Kabila's government.



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