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Dr Congo Has 20,000 Troops In Volatile East

Dr Congo Has 20,000 Troops In Volatile East, UN Mission Says

With mutineer-led insurgent fighters still present in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the transitional government has built up its own force of 20,000 troops in the area, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes country said today.

The insurgency, led by dissident General Laurent Nkunda and Colonel Jules Mutebutsi, is the most serious crisis ever experienced by the Kinshasa Government and it has been intensified by the rhetoric emerging from both the DRC and neighbouring Rwanda, mission chief William Lacy Swing said.

At UN Headquarters, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told UN Radio, "If we are not able to stabilize and the Congo were to revert back into violence, or anarchy, the whole region will pay a price. And this is why we are focusing so much attention on this issue.

Early next month at the third African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, all the leaders concerned would have an opportunity to discuss the issues, he said.

Meanwhile, African, European and United States leaders were making efforts to defuse tensions and set up joint verification across the DRC-Rwandan border, a UN spokesman said at the daily briefing.

Rwanda closed its side of the border on 6 June as refugees poured out of the eastern town, Bukavu, starting in late May.

Presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria went to the DRC's capital, Kinshasa, for talks last weekend, while South African President Thabo Mbeki issued a statement earlier today expressing concern over developments.

Radio Okapi, the radio station of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC), said Mr Mbeki was worried by the possibility that a war might break out between DRC and Rwanda.

South Africa brokered a peace deal, signed on 30 July 2002, between DRC President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, committing them to dismantling the Rwandan rebel Interahamwe forces in eastern DRC and removing Rwandan national troops from DRC territory.

© Scoop Media

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