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Saturday, July 17, 1999 Published at 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK


World: Africa

UN considers Congo peacekeepers

Peacekeeping in Congo would be risky and expensive

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has recommended the immediate deployment of 90 military personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo to assess the practicality of sending a larger peacekeeping force.


UN Correspondent Mark Devenport: "A difficult and dangerous task."
In a report to the Security Council, Mr Annan warns that any future force would be beset by risks and would have to involve thousands of international troops.

The initial contingent of 90 military personnel would be authorised to liaise with the main belligerents.

Depending on their success, Mr Annan says, he would be prepared to approve the deployment of another 500 observers.


[ image: Annan urged rebel factions to sign up to the ceasefire now]
Annan urged rebel factions to sign up to the ceasefire now
Western diplomats say the Security Council will not want to commit UN military personnel to what is bound to be a difficult and dangerous task, until the Congolese rebels have signed a peace accord.

The rebels refused to sign the Lusaka agreement last weekend because of disputes among themselves.

Continued fighting

There are reports of continued fighting in some areas of the country, and one Ugandan-backed rebel group says it has taken another town, Gemena.


[ image:  ]
The Movement to Liberate Congo, led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, has been advancing against President Laurent Kabila's forces in the north and north-west of the country.

Ten days ago the group took control of Gbadolite, the home of the former Zairean dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.

The assault on Gemena took place well after the ceasefire agreement signed by the countries which have intervened in the war.


Cathy Jenkins reports from the northern rebel-held town of Gbadolite
Gemena, 1,000km (600 miles) northeast of the capital Kinshasa, has already changed hands three times during the war.

BBC East Africa Correspondent Cathy Jenkins accompanied Mr Bemba to the settlement of Kotakoli, where he told the inhabitants that his troops were ready to oust President Kabila.

She says the well-orchestrated gathering at Kotakoli was enthusiastic about the new leader, but two years ago they felt the same about President Kabila, whose promises came to nothing.



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