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DR of Congo: ceasefire continues to hold as UN verifies troop disengagement

DR of Congo: ceasefire continues to hold as UN verifies troop disengagement

The ceasefire and disengagement agreement between the parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is continuing to hold, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in charge of monitoring the cessation of hostilities and verifying troop withdrawal.

In a statement issued over the weekend in Kinshasa, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said that most of the forces had completed their redeployment and that 86 of the designated 96 redeployment positions had been verified by MONUC observers as of last Friday.

In Equateur province, troops from the Mouvement pour la libération du Congo (MLC) have almost completed their redeployments, except to Waka, where logistic difficulties have reportedly slowed their movement, MONUC said. The head of the armed group has assured the UN operation's Force Commander that the MLC would soon complete its pullout to Waka. However, the MLC has not handed over administrative control of the areas it is vacating, effectively preventing government forces from moving forward to their designated positions. Government and allied commanders have agreed to hold their troops in their current locations for the time being.

In the Ikela area, the disengagement and redeployment of forces was completed on 18 June, MONUC said. North of Ikela, the towns of Djolu and Mondombe are occupied by government and allied forces in accordance with the Harare disengagement sub-plans.

Meanwhile MONUC observers are monitoring the repatriation of Ugandan forces from the DRC, with troop withdrawals ongoing in Basakusu, Dongo, Lisala and Gbadolite. In the city of Kisangani, where the Security Council has called for complete demilitarization, MONUC is monitoring the situation and engaged in efforts to persuade the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD) to withdraw its military forces from the city.

MONUC is also continuing to investigate all reports of ceasefire violations and other incidents raised by the parties, except in those areas where security considerations preclude unarmed military observers from entering. The findings of the investigations are forwarded to the Joint Military Commission on which all parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement are represented.