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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 13:13 GMT
Congo general 'agrees to peace'
Laurent Nkunda
Laurent Nkunda may be given asylum in another country
The Democratic Republic of Congo's military has announced a peace deal with dissident army general Laurent Nkunda, wanted for war crimes.

He confirmed his militia will be integrated into the national army but denied he was seeking asylum elsewhere.

Gen Nkunda, who has been leading a rebellion in the east, said he wanted his arrest warrant be repealed.

The agreement comes three months after Joseph Kabila was elected as DR Congo's first president in 40 years.

About 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers operate in the country, overseeing the peace process after the end of a bloody five-year war in 2002.

'Asylum'

The Congolese military told the BBC that, under the deal, Gen Nkunda will be given asylum in another country, despite outstanding war crimes charges against him.

But Gen Nkunda denied this, saying he would remain in DR Congo.

"I'm going to serve in the army... We must repeal this arrest warrant," he told Reuters news agency.

Rwanda has recently been hosting talks between representatives of the Congolese government and Gen Nkunda.

Rwanda was accused of backing the general, who left the army and launched his own low-level rebellion after the war ended, saying that the country's transition to democracy was flawed and had excluded the minority Tutsi community.

Congolese army officer Col Delphin Kiyimbi told the BBC that he had been put in charge of integrating Nkunda's fighters - estimated to be between 1,500 to 2,000 - into the army.

He said the operation would take place in Mweso in North Kivu region by 21 January, and he was planning to create four brigades.

The BBC's Emery Makumeno in the capital, Kinshasa, says the removal of the fighters could bring much-needed stability to the war-torn region.

Mr Kabila said on taking office that peace and stability in the east was his immediate priority.




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