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Army to start expelling foreign fighters on 30 September

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KINSHASA, 8 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - The army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will on 30 September begin using force to expell all foreign rebel fighters in the country, a spokesman for President Joseph Kabila said on Thursday.

"To do this we need logistics support from [the UN Mission in the DRC] MONUC and the international community," Kasongo Kudura, the spokesman, said.

The deadline for the rebels to leave voluntarily or face expulsion was set during a meeting on Tuesday with President Joseph Kabila, representatives of the country's Independent Electoral Commission, and those of the International Committee in Support of the Transition; known as CIAT. The committee includes ambassadors from Angola, Belgium, Britain, Canada, China, France, Russia, South Africa, the United States, Zambia, the African Union, the European Union, and MONUC.

"President Kabila had already decided to disarm the foreign armed groups especially the Interhamwe," Kudura said, referring to one of the Rwandan Hutu armed groups that fled to eastern Congo following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, "but we did not have the operational capacity."

MONUC spokeswomen Rachel Eklou said on Thursday UN troops would support the army operation.

"Already we have joint operations, for example at Kahuzi Biega Park [in the east of DRC's South Kivu Province]," she said.

Eklou also said the head of MONUC, William Swing, would soon be going to the towns of Beni and Butembo in the northeast.

"He may get to speak with NALU," Eklou said, referring to the rebel National Army for the Liberation of Uganda which has its base in the area.


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