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Peace Deal Between DRC Gov't, Rebels Welcomed

DR Congo: Security Council welcomes peace deal between Government, rebels

30 January 2008 - Welcoming the peace agreement between the Government and armed groups in the violence-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Security Council today urged all sides to respect the ceasefire and other agreements reached "in good faith."

In a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi of Libya, which holds the rotating presidency for this month, the Council said it was "particularly pleased" that rebel groups in North and South Kivu have decided to cease hostilities immediately.

The 15-member body lauded these groups' commitment to withdraw their troops to either disarm or join the brassage process, whereby ex-combatants from armed groups are retrained to form part of the national armed forces of the DRC (FARDC), as well as to follow the rules of international humanitarian and human rights law according to an agreement signed with the Government on 23 January in Goma.

Calling on the international community - including the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African nation (known as MONUC) - to support the process of implementing the commitments, the statement appealed for the continuation of dialogue among Congolese authorities and others in North and South Kivu "to seek long-term and comprehensive ways to address the root causes of instability."

The UN refugee agency estimates that over the last year, a mix of conflict, military build-up and spiralling lawlessness has displaced 400,000 people in North Kivu - the worst displacement since the end of the DRC's civil war in 2003. In total, there are an estimated 800,000 displaced people in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

The Council also stressed the importance of the so-called Joint Nairobi Communiqué from last November, in which the DRC and Rwanda agreed to work together against threats to peace and stability in the region.

Also today, a unanimous resolution was passed authorizing MONUC, in tandem with international partners and the UN Country Team, to help the country's authorities to organize, prepare and conduct upcoming local elections.

In a related development, MONUC announced that as part of its effort to support the recent agreement in Goma, it is deploying new mobile bases, intended to protect civilians and to monitor the ceasefire, in eight towns in North Kivu.

The mission also reported an exchange of fire on Monday between forces loyal to renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda and elements of the Congolese Patriotic Resistance in North Kivu's Masisi territory. MONUC sent patrols to the area to stabilize the situation.


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