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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 12:25 GMT
Great Lakes security pact signed
President Yoweri Museveni (l) and Joseph Kabila (r)
Mr Museveni wants to be able to pursue rebels into DR Congo
African leaders from the Great Lakes have signed a $2bn security and development pact aimed at preventing further bloodshed in the region.

It is not clear if a key section was changed to allow countries to pursue rebels based in neighbouring states, after a request from Uganda's leader.

Yoweri Museveni has said the roots of the bloodshed are rebel groups based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda has been battling rebels with camps in DR Congo for two decades.

Tens of thousands of people have died and more than one-and-a-half million displaced because of Lord's Resistance Army attacks in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.

Response

The leaders signed the treaty at the Great Lakes summit taking place in the Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

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Congolese President Joseph Kabila is expected to deliver his first international speech since winning the presidential election three months ago.

The BBC's Josphat Makori at the summit says many will be watching to see if Mr Kabila will respond to accusations by Mr Museveni that his country was contributing to instability in the region.

A five-year conflict in DR Congo, which officially ended in 2002, pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

The conflicts in DR Congo and Burundi and the 1994 Rwandan genocide were closely linked.

Disarmament

The treaty covers issues such as security, governance and economic development.

It also includes measures to disarm remaining rebel groups, prevent arms trafficking and help millions of refugees.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says the proposals will be backed by an undertaking to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a whole raft of different projects.

Leaders also pointed to a peace deal and successful elections in Burundi, which has had more than a decade of conflict.

On Thursday, Mr Museveni said that 50% of the region's problems were the "myriad of negative terrorist groups" based mainly in the eastern DR Congo.

Violence has continued involving small militia groups in the east who do not accept control from Kinshasa, the capital, which lies some 1,500km to the west away across vast tracts of forest.

Rebel groups from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda have also been based in the area.

The world's largest peacekeeping force is in DR Congo, tasked with keeping the peace and helping disarm the groups.




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