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African Union Condemns New Congo Fighting - 2002-12-25

The African Union has condemned renewed fighting in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The AU chairman says the new outbreak of violence threatens a peace accord signed just last week.

Acting African Union chairman Amara Essy has urged all parties fighting in the South-Kivu and Ituri regions of Congo to lay down their weapons and comply with a peace accord signed in South Africa last week.

In a statement issued in Addis Ababa, the AU leader said hundreds of thousands of people have fled renewed fighting between rival factions in the rebel-held areas.

He said the violence has hit civilians particularly hard.

The African Union statement comes a day after the United Nations Security Council also condemned the renewed hostilities, and called on all parties to implement the power-sharing agreement.

The Security Council singled out two minor rebel groups known as the Rally for Congolese Democracy-National and the Rally for Congolese Democracy-Liberation Movement. Both factions signed the Pretoria Accord on December 17.