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Harare denies its forces violating disengagement

Zimbabwean troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are in full compliance with existing disengagement treaties and do not plan to pull back further, a defence force spokesman said on Friday. Despite reported concerns that allied forces had by Thursday not withdrawn from frontline positions as stipulated in the Kampala and Harare disengagement plans, Colonel Mbonisi Gatsheni said Zimbabwean troops were “exactly where they are supposed to be, outside the line of conflict”. He told IRIN that the ceasefire plans identified “contested areas” from which all sides were due to pull back. He alleged that allied forces withdrew, but Rwandan and Ugandan troops advanced. “Where should the allies move to that they haven’t moved to already? As of now, allied forces are in positions that weren’t contested before, they are not on the frontline.” Gatsheni said part of the problem was that the UN observer mission to the DRC (MONUC), “does not have the full capacity to monitor the situation on the ground”. Meanwhile, 281 UN military observers on Friday began verifying the 15 km pull back of the various armies fighting in the DRC. However, the UN mission has not yet observed a withdrawal of government-allied forces from Kananga in south-central Kasai province. The Ugandan-backed rebel group, the Congolese Liberation Front, has also reportedly failed to withdraw from its positions in Equator province.

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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