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Congo Says Force to Be Deployed to Quell Rebellion by Year-End

A neutral force of 4,000 troops will deploy in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern border with Rwanda and Uganda by the end of the year to combat rebel forces, Congolese Minister of Communication Lambert Mende said.

The decision to deploy the force under the auspices of the United Nations and African Union came after heads of state from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region met in Kampala, Uganda, on Oct. 8, Mende said in an e-mailed statement today.

Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting a rebellion in its east that has led to the displacement of nearly half a million people. Rwanda denies the allegations.

The ICGLR will submit a proposal for the force to the UN Security Council for approval, Mende said. “For the large majority of the 11 countries of the ICGLR, the neutral force constitutes the ideal solution to resolve the conflict between Rwanda and DR Congo,” he said.

The UN already has about 19,000 personnel in its peacekeeping mission in Congo, almost all of whom are stationed in the east. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sept. 27 that the idea of an additional force needed to be further refined before the Security Council could consider it.

Tanzania has offered a battalion for the force, according to the ICGLR.

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