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Analyst Calls For Stronger UN Mandate In DRC - 2004-06-23

UN officials say the Congolese government has deployed nearly 20 thousand soldiers to Congo?s eastern border with Rwanda, sparking fears of renewed conflict. Congolese officials accuse Rwanda of backing dissident forces in eastern Congo. Rwanda denies the charge and says the Congolese government is preparing to invade. Rwanda was a leading combatant in the Congo?s five-year war, which ended last year.

The UN Security Council has warned Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi not to support armed groups operating in the DRC. In a statement yesterday, the council condemned "in the strongest terms" any outside involvement in the volatile region of eastern Congo. The United Nations has troops in eastern Congo as part of a peace mission. They operate under what?s called a Chapter Six mandate, which restricts the use of force.

Some are arguing for a stronger mandate, under Chapter Seven, which would allow a greater use of force. Meanwhile, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Donald Yamamoto, and his British counterpart, Chris Mullin, are in Kinshasa trying to defuse rising tensions.

A South African analyst says he does not think the tensions will grow into renewed war, but he does say UN troops in the region should be strengthened. Dr. Norman Mlambo of the Pretoria-based think tank the Africa Institute of South Africa also says the troops should be given a Chapter 7 mandate, which allows them to use force to defend themselves and to keep order.

English to Africa reporter William Eagle spoke with Dr. Mlambo, the chief research specialist in the Peace and Governance Program of the Africa Institute of South Africa.