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MONUC to verify withdrawal of Rwandan troops

The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) on Wednesday sent observers to Bukavu, South Kivu, to investigate the alleged presence of Rwandan soldiers in the region after their official withdrawal in October.

"The observers are charged with verifying the allegations regarding the military presence of Rwandans, or the return of Rwandan troops to certain areas," said the MONUC spokesman, Hamadoun Toure, on Wednesday. The investigators will be stationed in Lodja, in Kasai Occidental, and Lubutu, in Maniema Province.

Toure said the verification mechanism of the Pretoria peace accord - which committed Rwanda to withdrawing its troops from DRC territory - signed on 30 July by Presidents Joseph Kabila of the DRC and Paul Kagame of Rwanda consisted of representatives from South Africa and MONUC.

A second delegation of observers would be sent next week to other areas of the DRC where local people had reported the presence of Rwandan troops, he added. The DRC government has supported these claims.

Rwanda declared on 5 October that it had completed its withdrawal from the DRC. MONUC confirmed that it had counted 20,941 Rwandan troops who had left, out of a total of 23,760 that the Rwandan military command had declared. The UN mission also confirmed that the Rwandans had left with their side arms, large quantities of ammunition, machine guns, rocket-launchers, rocket-propelled grenade-launchers, mortars, armoured vehicles and anti-aircraft weapons.

The Rwandan military explained the shortfall of 2,819 soldiers as being due to leave, training and other assignments at the time of withdrawal.

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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