Uganda to withdraw in full from Congo!

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    Kampala to Withdraw Troops, Bilateral Relations to Be Normalised

    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

    August 16, 2002
    Posted to the web August 16, 2002

    Following four years of war, the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighbouring Uganda reached an accord in the Angolan capital, Luanda, on Thursday, whereby Uganda will withdraw its remaining troops from the DRC, and the two countries will normalise relations.

    The accord, reached by delegations from each of the countries, under the auspices of the Angolan authorities, will take effect when it is signed at a ceremony to be held in the next few days between presidents Joseph Kabila of the DRC and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

    "Uganda has agreed to withdraw without condition its troops from the DRC," Vital Kamerhe, the DRC government commissioner in charge of the peace process, told IRIN on Thursday.

    DRC Minister Delegate for Presidential Affairs Katumba Mwanke, the foreign ministers of Uganda and Angola, James Wapakhabulo and Joao Miranda, signed the accord. The timetable for implementation remains to be elaborated.

    "The application of the agreement is to be within a time frame of 30 days," Kamerhe said. A similar accord with a time frame of 90 days was signed on 30 July between the DRC and Rwanda, another neighbouring country that has supported a DRC rebel movement since 1998.

    Uganda had already withdrawn the majority of its army from the DRC before this accord, but dispatched additional forces in the wake of recent fighting among Ugandan-backed Congolese rebel armies and ethnic militias in northeastern DRC.

    According to the signatories to the accord, 2,500 Ugandan soldiers are currently in the DRC, namely in the northwestern city of Gbadolite, and the eastern cities of Bunia, Beni and Butembo.

    "The principle of a complete withdrawal of Ugandan forces is established, but Ugandan forces in Bunia will only leave once Congolese police and government administrators have arrived," said Kamerhe. "The goal is to avoid chaos with regard to the situation prevailing in this city," he added.

    Humanitarian sources have reported that over 110 civilians were killed in Bunia when the latest round of fighting erupted on 6 August. Ethnic Hema militias supported by the Ugandan army and the Union des patriotes congolais - a dissident faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Kisangani-Mouvement de liberation - seized control of Bunia and took charge of local government.

    Bunia, with a population of about 300,000 people, is less than 50 km from the Ugandan border.

    As for the Ruwenzori mountains, the DRC and Uganda delegations agreed that joint patrols would police the region.

    The normalisation of relations between the two countries, including restoration of diplomatic relations, will begin following the complete withdrawal of Ugandan forces.

    With Angola serving as the third party to this accord, it would be allowed to use its forces in the DRC to verify the Ugandan withdrawal, Kamerhe said.

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