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AU may need 45,000 troops to disarm militias

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ADDIS ABABA, 27 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - Up to 45,000 AU peacekeepers could be needed to disarm an estimated 15,000 Rwanda Hutus based in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a 19-page report issued on Friday by the African Union.

The AU force would expect "forcible disarmament" and "a degree of resistance", the chairman of the commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, said in the report.

Armed groups of Rwandan Hutus have had bases across the border from Rwanda in the DRC provinces of North and South Kivu since the Rwandan genocide occurred in 1994. Some members of the group are accused of having taken part in the genocide.

The groups are also accused of murdering, raping and kidnapping civilians.

In January, the AU pledged it would send 7,000 troops but AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said on Friday after the meeting that none of the 53 African country that make up the AU had so far committed troops.

In July, the AU will send an advanced team to fine tune estimates of the number of troops needed of the mission as well as to establish estimated costs. The Rwandan special envoy to the Great Lakes, Richard Sezibera, who was also at the meeting, later told reporters that the AU force was long overdue because people were dying every day.

"They needed to be there yesterday," he said.


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