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Peace with Rwanda, Uganda first step towards ending DR of Congo conflict, Annan says

Peace with Rwanda, Uganda first step towards ending DR of Congo conflict, Annan says

The recent signing of separate peace agreements by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with Rwanda and Uganda, while only the beginning of the process, could be a major step forward towards ending the region's long-standing conflict, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report.

"The highly commendable initiatives of the Governments of South Africa and Angola to introduce a new dynamic in the DRC peace process deserve our strong support," the Secretary-General writes in his special report to the Security Council on the implications of the two accords. "It is important that the parties on the ground now demonstrate their full commitment to these Agreements through concrete and decisive steps."

The report examines some of the challenges the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) will face in helping to implement the Agreements, including the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of foreign armed groups, the withdrawal of all foreign troops, and the restoration of security in the north-eastern part of the country.

"I call on all concerned to cease all military activities in the north-east," he says. "The gap that still exists between the increasingly positive diplomatic efforts and the deteriorating situation on the group must not be allowed to widen."

In order to fulfil its obligations, the Secretary-General outlines an adjustment of the Mission's concept of operations for deployment, which includes the creation of a forward mission headquarters in Kisangani to enable MONUC to shift its centre of gravity towards the eastern part of the country.

The Secretary-General also recommends the creation of two robust military task forces - comprising 1,700 soldiers each - to be stationed in Kindu and Kisangani. Other support units, such as a reserve battalion, aviation and riverine troops, would also be needed. This would require raising the total authorized troop level to 8,700, up from the current authorization of 5,537.

As for the "third party" - defined as the Secretary-General and South Africa - called for by the Pretoria agreement to verify actions taken by both the DRC and Rwanda, Mr. Annan notes that it was decided in August that the secretariat would be based in Kinshasa, and would include, on the UN side, the deputy head of MONUC and the deputy commander of UN troops in the DRC.

The Council is expected to discuss the report next week.