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DRC intervention

Senior military sources in Zimbabwe told IRIN on Thursday that the Harare government would wait until Rwanda and Uganda withdraw from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), before scaling down its own intervention force. An estimated 10,000 Zimbabwean troops have been fighting for embattled President Laurent-Desire Kabila of the DRC in the eastern parts of the country against Rwandan and Ugandan backed rebel forces. According to the source, the Zimbabwean intervention had successfully blocked the rebel advance, but there had been a 10 to 15 percent casualty rate mainly through disease. "Our air superiority was vital in getting the upper hand," one Zimbabwean military officer who recently returned from Lubumbashi in eastern DRC told IRIN. He added: "We have stabilised the situation. Congolese [government] forces can now hold down the rebels, if Uganda and Rwanda stop supporting them." However, other Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) military experts said that the high economic costs were a much greater reason for Zimbabwe to pull out of the DRC. "Their DRC intervention has been an economic disaster for Zimbabwe," one analyst told IRIN. "The government can not sustain the level of involvement when ordinary Zimbabweans think troops have been sent to defend government investments and not national or regional interests." One South Africa military expert told IRIN that he did not believe that the Zimbabwean military knew why they were in the DRC. "No-one wants the rebels to sign the Lusaka peace proposal more than Zimbabwe. But a critical element will be the withdrawal of Ugandan and Rwanda. Without that Zimbabwe is stuck in the DRC," he said. Recently the UN said that it would provide small contingent military liaison officers and civilian staff as part of a plan to help the regional mediators of the DRC peace process implement the Lusaka ceasefire which rebel forces are due to sign.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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