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MONUC in peace talks with Ituri belligerents and others

A team from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has held talks with Ugandan army commanders and with representatives of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), of civil society and of different communities in Ituri District on the possibility of ending hostilities in this part of the country, UN spokesman Hamadoun Toure said on Wednesday.

He told reporters in the capital, Kinshasa, that the team, sent to Bunia on Monday, had also discussed who would participate in a meeting of the technical preparatory committee for the establishment of the Ituri Pacification Committee.

He said the UPC would not be locked out of the committee. "UPC leader Thomas Lubanga is an actor like any other within the Ituri communities. Consequently, his movement should not be excluded from the efforts for the restoration of peace," Toure said.

MONUC, Toure said, had received a statement from 38 representatives of different communities in the area, saying they "favoured the pacification of Ituri". The area has been the scene of fierce fighting between Ugandan troops and their erstwhile allies, the UPC. The Ugandans drove the UPC out of Bunia on 6 March.

Contrary to reports, Toure said MONUC had never asked Uganda to maintain troops in the town. Uganda's definite withdrawal from Bunia by March, Toure said, was provided for in the agreement signed by the presidents of the DRC and Uganda on 9 and 10 February, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Toure said another MONUC military team would soon fly to Bogoro, 25 km from Bunia, to assess the security situation before "a multidisciplinary team" moved in to assess the impact of the recent clashes in the area.

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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