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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK

World: Africa

Congo peacebroker calls for UN force

Congolese rebels signed a peace deal at the end of August

By Mark Devenport at the United Nations in New York

The Zambian President, Frederick Chiluba, has urged the UN Security Council to send a peacekeeping force to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Battle for the heart of Africa
President Frederick Chiluba brokered a ceasefire agreement in Lusaka in July, between the DR Congo Government, rebel groups and neighbouring countries whose troops were involved in the conflict there.

The fighting claimed the lives of thousands of victims and created hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The deal was belatedly signed by the rebels of the Congolese Rally for Democracy at the end of August, after they resolved a violent internal quarrel.

In a briefing to the Security Council in New York, President Chiluba urged the despatch of peacekeepers to enforce the ceasefire agreement.

The cost of peace

Because of the size and terrain of the Democratic Republic of Congo, any peacekeeping operation would have to be large and expensive, but the Zambian president says that should not hold the UN back.

[ image: President Chiluba: call for peacekeepers]
President Chiluba: call for peacekeepers
He said that financial considerations had often prevented the effective involvement of the UN in Africa, whereas in other regions of the world where conflicts had occurred, no expense had been spared in the pursuit of peace.

President Chiluba reminded the Council of the perception that it was slow and reluctant to support peace efforts in Africa and argued they should spur it to act in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN has already sent the first of 90 military observers to liaise with the different sides to the deal.

Any peacekeepers who are deployed will have to have strong powers, as one of their tasks envisaged in the Lusaka agreement is the tracking down and disarmament of those factions who are not party to the agreement.

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