10 April 2003

Africa: UN Tells Uganda to Quit DR Congo

Kampala — The UN Security Council on Tuesday demanded the removal of Ugandan troops from DR Congo, and an investigation into the alleged killing of 1,000 Congolese.

"They [members] called on the Ugandan forces to withdraw from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo without delay," Council President Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said in a statement.

Mr Zinser said the council reiterated that "so long as they [UPDF] are deployed on the ground, these forces have the responsibility of the safety of the civilian population".

The Council also mandated the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello to investigate the massacres in the north-eastern DR Congo province of Ituri.

The UN also scaled down the Ituri deaths to about 300. Mr de Mello was asked to report to the Council as soon as possible. The statement said that members of the 15-nation Council also condemned an offensive by the Rwanda-backed RCD-Goma rebels in eastern DR Congo. They reportedly ordered the group to immediately withdraw its troops to agreed positions.

Rwanda Army Spokesman Maj. Jill Rutremara said on Tuesday that RCD-Goma was fighting genocidal forces (Interahamwe) in the area.

The commander of the Ugandan troops in Ituri, Brig Kale Kayihura on Sunday denied any responsibility for the Ituri killings. He said the UPDF is deployed 25km away from the scene of the killings that occurred late March to early April.

Uganda has kept its troops in Ituri allegedly to stop the area from being used by Rwanda-backed Ugandan rebels. A team from the UN Observer Mission in Congo on Monday visited areas around Drodo and found 20 fresh mass graves.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the people may have been killed for refusing to support Lendu-based militia offensives.

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