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DR of Congo: aid to rebels must stop, Security Council members say

DR of Congo: aid to rebels must stop, Security Council members say

Amid reports of ongoing violence in some parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), members of the United Nations Security Council today urged an end to assistance for armed rebel groups and appealed to all parties to a ceasefire accord to live up to their commitments.

Members of the Council were "deeply disturbed" by reports of horrific violence, particularly in the eastern part of the DRC, the Council President said in a press statement following the body's consultations on the Congolese peace process. He pointed out that Council resolution 1341 had called on all parties to the Lusaka ceasefire agreement to cease support for the rebels who are mainly responsible for the violence and humanitarian abuse.

"That assistance has got to stop and the parties have got to come with plans that cease the activities of the armed rebel groups that are not signatories to Lusaka," said Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council's presidency for the month of April. "It's a very important part of the story to come and the Council is not going to let go of it."

A recent report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan refers to the violence in some areas as having almost a genocidal character, which Ambassador Greenstock said "casts a nasty echo back from previous history."

While welcoming the progress of troop disengagement so far, members of the Council said they expected all parties to live up fully to their commitments under the agreements, cooperate unreservedly with the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and draw up realistic plans by the 15 May for their complete withdrawal from the DRC, as requested in Security Council resolution 1304.

"And we also want to see realistic plans for a demobilization, disarmament, reconciliation and reintegration process," Ambassador Greenstock said. "We've seen the importance of that in the Sierra Leone and other contexts; it's going to be vital for the DRC."

The issues of aiding armed rebels and disengaging troops will be high on the agenda of an upcoming mission by the Security Council to the DRC in mid-May, the Council President said, adding that Mr. Annan also has invited the Council to a retreat on 4 to 5 May to discuss the Great Lakes region.

Meanwhile, in the DRC, more than 120 MONUC soldiers from Morocco were deployed earlier today in the town of Kisangani. The troops had been waiting since Sunday in Bangui, the capital of the nearby Central African Republic, because of obstruction to their deployment by the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy. The peacekeepers were met by large cheering crowds of about 100,000 people who threw flowers and shouted, "Bon courage!" to them. The troops were also greeted by the Mission's Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Mountaga Diallo. Their arrival brings the total number of UN troops in the DRC to about 600.