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Situation In Congo Increasingly Complex
Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2003

TORONTO ( -- A peace accord involving the warring parties in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Background Report) was struck earlier this month and was almost immediately threatened by tribal violence in the Ituri region between Lendu and Hema communities. These two groups have had a longstanding dispute that is independent of, but complicated by, the larger war that has engulfed DRC since 1998.

On April 13, 177 delegates in the Ituri region met and adopted a series of measures to end local hostilities. This has given a boost to the wider peace accord affecting the whole nation.

But complicating this whole situation is a dispute between Rwanda and Uganda, both of whom had troops fighting on opposing sides in the DRC war. The DRC government negotiated the withdrawal of Rwanda's troops in the fall of 2002 although it is now clear that not all have actually departed. It appears there are still about 5,000 Rwandan troops in DRC and on April 13, they were ordered to get out. As well, Uganda has indicated it will withdraw all of its troops by April 24.

On April 14, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda pledged that his country will try everything possible to avoid a war with Uganda but if that pledge does not succeed, there is the very real likelihood that DRC would be drawn into any war between Rwanda and Uganda.

As it is, there are several groups of DRC refugees living in Rwanda and there have been accusations that Uganda has been training Rwandan rebels to fight against the government of Rwanda. Uganda denies the accusations. There are also accusations of a group of Ugandan rebels known as the People's Redemption Army (PRA) who are said to be making incursions into Uganda from within DRC.

So while the omnibus peace agreement in DRC has held (for two weeks now), problems arising in neighboring countries, or within DRC but caused by neighbors, makes its success anything but certain. In the three countries mentioned in this report, there have been several million deaths over the past five years or so. correspondent Paul Harris drafted this report.

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