DRC: Ituri ceasefire deal signed

Report
from The New Humanitarian
Published on 18 Mar 2003
KINSHASA, 18 March (IRIN) - Delegates of the Ugandan and Congolese government, different rebel groups, and ethnic militia operating in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed a ceasefire accord on Tuesday in Bunia, the principal city in Ituri District of Orientale Province.
The ceremony was presided over by Amos Namanga Ngongi, the UN secretary-general's special representative to the country. Diplomats accredited to the DRC were also present, including the envoy of Angola, which mediated the 6 September 2002 accord between presidents Joseph Kabila of the Congo and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, said the ceasefire would be followed on Thursday by the establishment of a preparatory committee for the establishment of the long-awaited Ituri Pacification Commission. Formation of the commission has been delayed several times by fighting between various rebel factions and militias.

The withdrawal from the DRC of all Ugandan troops, who now control Bunia after booting out its erstwhile allies of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), is only expected after a Congolese local administration is established in the city. This is an issue due to be discussed by the Ituri commission.

"Ethnic [community] leaders and the representatives of different armed movements will be involved in this process," Hamadoun Toure, the MONUC spokesman, told IRIN.

The issue of Uganda's troop withdrawal has been a source of mounting tension between Kampala and Kigali, which supports the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Goma and its new ally, the UPC. Describing the Ugandan troops in the DRC as a threat to Rwanda's security, Kigali has threatened to redeploy its troops to eastern DRC.

That possibility has prompted DRC Foreign Minister She Okitundu to describe the Rwandan threat as a maneouvre to provoke a "remake of the battle of Kisangani" that began there between Ugandan and Rwandan troops on 4 June 2000, thereby creating a split between once very close allies.

[ENDS]

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