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Kabila non-committal on withdrawal of allies

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila on Tuesday said the withdrawal of allied troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia would take place only when “the objectives that brought them to the Congo have been fulfilled”, AFP reported. Kabila was addressing the Zimbabwean parliament. Uganda and Rwanda, which support rebel groups battling to overthrow his government, have already taken some of their forces home. Kabila expressed satisfaction at the troop disengagement under way in his war-ravaged country. “I am glad to note that encouraging signs have been reported on the front lines, except for a few cases of violations in the northern part of the country, where the enemy attempted to gain ground during the disengagement operation.” Under an accord reached in December, all the belligerent parties in the former Zaire agreed to pull back 15 km from front-line positions by this coming Thursday. Kabila said that according to reports coming from the UN observer mission in the country, MONUC, the ceasefire was holding. Kabila called for the deployment of more observers. Under the accord, MONUC, protected by 3,000 troops would deploy and verify the disengagement after Thursday. Kabila has been visiting Zimbabwe for two days, his first official visit to an African country since he was installed in January following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila. The parliamentary session was boycotted by Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmakers. The MDC has been opposed to the country’s expensive involvement in the two-and-half-year-old war, arguing that the intervention benefits only a few individuals in the ruling party and government, while costing the tax payer dearly. Earlier on Tuesday Kabila urged Zimbabwean companies to invest in his mineral-rich country, saying they should take advantage of the strong political ties between the two states. “I hope that this attention demonstrated here will translate into you coming to the (Congo) to look at opportunities to invest,” Reuters quoted him as saying in a speech to 200 business leaders in Harare. Kabila added that a bilateral agreement to ease trade barriers between the two countries should make it easier for Zimbabweans to do business in the DRC. Kabila held talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Monday that focused mainly on economic cooperation, officials said. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the discussions included Zimbabwe’s plans to import 450 megawatts of electricity from DRC, as well as potential investments in agriculture.

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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