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Kinshasa rejects Kampala's proposal to redeploy troops

KINSHASA, 21 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has rejected a proposal by Uganda to redeploy its troops to eastern Congo to hunt Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels as well as other Ugandan rebels groups there, Congolese government spokesman and Minister for Information Henri Mova Sakanyi said on Friday.

Saying Uganda should forget the proposal, he said: "The best way to fight the LRA rebels is by decimating them when they are in Uganda where they have been based for more than 20 years."

Mova's announcement follows a meeting on Wednesday in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, between DRC, Burundian, Rwandan and Ugandan officials over security in Africa's Great Lakes region. Delegates to the meeting agreed on the setting up of a joint verification team to determine the location of the LRA in eastern Congo.

Uganda made the redeployment proposal on Thursday at the security conference in Kampala. It first deployed its troops in eastern Congo in the 1990s during the country's civil war.

Around 400 LRA rebels accompanied by their families sought refuge in Congo's northeastern province of Orientale in September in the Garamba National Park, after having crossed the Sudanese frontier, fleeing an attack launched by Sudanese and Ugandan security forces.

Last week, the Congolese army said that the LRA rebels had returned to Sudan after some 3,000 Congolese troops were deployed to the park.

Making the troop deployment proposal, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa had said: "The LRA is a terrorist organisation, which has been operating out of Sudan for the last 10 years, now they are moving into DRC, which brings a new dynamic."

He added: "We should coordinate first and then operate jointly because of our accumulated knowledge and experience with the LRA. Without our involvement this problem will not be solved."

On Wednesday, chiefs of staff Lt-Gen Aronda Nyakairima of Uganda and Lt-Gen Kisempa Sungilanga Lombe of the DRC agreed that information gathered by the joint verification team would be shared by their respective operational headquarters at Yei in Sudan and at Aba in Orientale.

The Yei operational centre comprises Ugandan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army commanders while that in Aba is fielded by Congolese and officials of the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC.

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