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DR of Congo: UN mission to resume deployment to Kisangani on Friday

DR of Congo: UN mission to resume deployment to Kisangani on Friday

The deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the Congolese town of Kisangani will resume on Friday morning, according to an arrangement reached today between the UN mission and the rebel group that had blocked the arrival of the 120-member Moroccan contingent on Sunday.

The agreement was announced by Kamel Morjane, who heads the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). It followed a meeting today in the eastern DRC town of Goma between a group of ambassadors representing the permanent members of the Security Council and the leadership of the rebel group Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD).

Mr. Morjane said he welcomed the agreement, thanked the permanent members of the Security Council for their support and expressed hope that the development would lead to better cooperation with the RCD. The Council group was accompanied by MONUC Force Commander Major-General Mountaga Diallo.

Earlier in the day, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest report to the Security Council on MONUC had been released at UN Headquarters. Deploring the RCD's "obstructive attitude" in blocking the arrival of the UN peacekeepers, the Secretary-General said the Mission's deployment should not be made conditional on any factor, including the investigation of alleged ceasefire violations.

"RCD must permit the deployment of MONUC troops without further delay, fully restore its cooperative relations with MONUC and desist from further harassment and obstruction," the report stated. "The international community has waited long enough for progress in resolving the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and will have little patience for yet further delay from this source."

The Secretary-General also cautioned that the next - third - phase of MONUC deployment could be "incalculably more difficult, complex, risky and expensive." Mr. Annan noted that the Council's mission to the DRC next month would be "an invaluable opportunity" for members to examine the situation and determine what action may be needed to facilitate the initiation of Phase III.

Mr. Annan's next report containing recommendations for the way ahead is expected to be submitted before MONUC's mandate expires on 15 June .