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Congolese Rebels Reach Peace Accord Ahead of Elections


The United Nations says rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to lay down their weapons in advance of Sunday's elections - the country's first multi-party balloting in more than 40 years.

The U.N. says rebels based in the violence-torn eastern province of Ituri and government military authorities reached the agreement Wednesday.

The rebels will allow free passage for Congolese to travel to their voting districts on Sunday, in exchange for an offer of amnesty. The rebels will also join the national army under the agreement.

Some 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed in Congo to help stabilize the country. Additional troops from the European Union are gearing up to support the U.N. and Congolese troops during the elections.

A report issued by the U.N. on Wednesday says politically motivated human rights violations have sharply increased in the DRC ahead of the vote.

The world body accuses members of Congo's police, army and other government agencies of committing most of the violations, including execution-style killings and rape of civilians. The U.N. also denounces the government security forces for repressing political freedoms.

The report covers incidents that occurred from January to June of this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.