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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK

World: Africa

Congo draft ceasefire agreed

War has dragged on in Congo for 11 months

All sides involved in the 11-month war in the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed on a draft ceasefire, following two weeks of talks.

The BBC's Raphael Jesurum looks into the backround of the agreement
"We have adopted the document. I am very happy. The was is over now," said Congolese Foreign Minister Abdulaiye Yerodia.

The accord was reached in Zambia by foreign and defence ministers of all the countries involved, and representatives of Congolese rebel groups.

Ishbel Matheison reports from Lusaka: "Last problems resolved in the early hours of the morning"
The agreement calls for an end to hostilities, the deployment of a peacekeeping force and the disarmament of armed Hutu extremists.

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba is now due to call a summit of nine African leaders, including Laurent Kabila of Congo, and rebel leaders, to approve the draft.

That meeting is likely to take place after next week's Organisation of African Unity summit in Algiers.

Regional tension

The Congo conflict has drawn in five countries, threatening stability in Central Africa.

[ image: Congolese Foreign Minister Abdulaiye Yerodia:
Congolese Foreign Minister Abdulaiye Yerodia: "The war is over"
Along with Rwanda, Uganda is backing the rebels, who accuse President Kabila of corruption, mismanagement and warmongering.

Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola support President Kabila.

In a last minute deal on Tuesday, Zimbabwe waived its reservations over Rwandan demands to disarm Congo-based Rwandan Hutu extremists immediately.

Zambian officials said Zimbabwe agreed to participate in a joint military commission of warring parties that would initially be responsible for disarming Hutu militias who fled to Congo after carrying out genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

The parties are also planning to request assistance from United Nations peacekeepers to help in rounding up the militias.

Fighting goes on

But as the talks drew to a conclusion, fighting in Congo was reported to have intensified.

A Rwandan army commander in eastern Congo said his units had killed more than 60 government troops and allied Burundian Hutu rebels in a two-day operation between the towns of Uvira and Baraka.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an undetermined number of government soldiers had escaped. His claims have not been independently verified.

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