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The BBC's Mark Devenport in New York
Kabila pointedly refused to acknowledge the leaders of Rwanda and Uganda
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Monday, 24 January, 2000, 20:52 GMT
African leaders demand UN deployment

congo rebel soldiers Sporadic fighting continues despite the peace agreement

Seven African heads of state have appealed for the deployment of UN soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They were taking part in a special session of the UN Security Council devoted to discussing the continuing conflict in the country.

president kabila President Laurent Kabila is on his first trip to the US

On his first visit to the United States as Congolese leader, Laurent Kabila told the council that aggressors from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi had destroyed last year's peace agreement by their support for the rebels.

He demanded their withdrawal from Congo and said the territorial integrity of the country was the central issue.

But the Rwandan and Ugandan leaders emphasised that their primary concern was the disarmament of Hutu militias inside Congo believed to be responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

The delegates are considering a proposal from the secretary-general to deploy thousands of troops to protect a small group of unarmed UN observers currently in Congo.

The African leaders are expected to remain in New York for a a week of talks.

The international community is reluctant to send peacekeepers to the DRC unless the Lusaka agreement registers a perfect score of some performance chart.
Zambian President Frederick Chiluba
Most of the warring parties signed a ceasefire agreement in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, last year, but since then sporadic fighting has continued.

However Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said a higher level of ceasefire implementation was being demanded by the international community than in other conflict zones.

Lusaka peace process

UN officials hope that the regional leaders will reaffirm their commitment to the Lusaka process, provide safety guarantees for any UN personnel deployed in DR Congo and give assurances that they will not launch any new military offensives.

DR Congo peace deal
UN-OAU peace force
Foreign troops withdraw
Commitment to disarmament
Release of hostages
Access for Red Cross
Dialogue between government and rebels

The United Nations already has 80 military liaison officers monitoring the situation, but the Security Council has been delaying approval of any further deployment until it is convinced the ceasefire is holding.

If the heads of state make progress this week it will enable the Council to consider proposals from the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for a 5,500-strong military force as a stepping-stone to what could eventually be an even bigger UN peace-keeping operation.

The new talks mark the culmination of a month in which the Security Council has devoted itself to the problems of Africa.

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See also:
08 Jul 99 |  Africa
Congo peace plan: the main points
23 Jun 99 |  Africa
DR Congo: What price peace?
10 Jul 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Premature euphoria in Congo
14 Jul 99 |  Africa
Kabila grants rebel amnesty
02 Aug 99 |  Africa
Congo rebels sign truce

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