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UN Congo Team Ending Africa Tour - 2002-05-07

A team sent by the U.N. Security Council has ended an eight-nation tour of Africa aimed at bolstering support for an end to fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The team, as one of its proposals, is calling for the creation of a corridor inside Congo in which Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi could deploy troops to protect themselves from attacks by Congo-based insurgents.

Rwanda, for example, has frequently said it cannot withdraw its troops from Congo while it is still being threatened by Rwandan rebels based there. Most of the rebels fled into Congo after carrying out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In an interview with VOA, a conflict analyst based in South Africa, Jan van Eck, endorsed the U.N. team's proposal, noting that "what the Security Council has done is to identify the cause, the main cause of the war in the Congo and that's Rwanda's security problem. If Rwanda and all the other belligerents can negotiate an acceptable multinational force patrolling the eastern Congo, the border with Rwanda, that will go a long, long way in addressing the concerns of Rwanda," said Mr. van Eck.

However, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Monday that the creation of a security area alone does not fully address Rwandan concerns. He says Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, also has to carry out his pledge to disarm and arrest the Rwandan rebels based in eastern Congo.

While it acknowledges that many problems remain, the U.N. team is urging Congo's warring parties to continue negotiating until they come up with an agreement to end fighting that has torn apart one of the most mineral rich countries in Africa.