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Armed Groups in Eastern DR Congo to Sign Cease-Fire Deal


Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say armed groups in the eastern Kivu provinces have reached a cease-fire agreement with the government.

The officials said Monday that the warring parties plan to sign a truce deal Tuesday after two weeks of talks in Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

They say the agreement establishes an immediate cease-fire among government forces, a local Mai Mai militia and Tutsi rebels loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda.

The draft text calls for a phased pullback of armed forces in North Kivu to create buffer zones monitored by United Nations peacekeepers. The text also proposes a government amnesty for fighters involved in "acts of war and insurgency."

The agreement does not provide amnesty for war crimes.

General Nkunda is wanted for war crimes by the Congolese government, and his future status is unclear.

The fighting in North and South Kivu provinces has raged on despite the official end of a broader civil war in the DRC in 2003.

Nkunda began his insurgency in 2004, saying local Tutsis needed protection from Rwandan Hutu rebels who fled to eastern Congo after Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Government forces and Nkunda's men resumed fighting last August, after Nkunda abandoned a peace accord and pulled his fighters out of the national army.

The U.N. refugee agency says fighting and lawlessness in North Kivu has displaced about 400,000 people over the last year.

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