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    Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2540
    Release Date:  12 April 2000
     Secretary-General Welcomes Disengagement Plan as `Significant Step Forward' in Democratic Republic of Congo Peace Process
     

      NEW YORK, 11 April (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
     

     On 8 April, in Kampala, Uganda, the Political Committee established under the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement adopted a plan for the disengagement of belligerent forces from their current confrontation lines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their withdrawal by up to 30 kilometres from those lines to create a demilitarized zone.  The military commanders of the belligerents have received their orders from the Political Committee, and have agreed to order a complete cessation of hostilities from 14 April. The disengagement plan was drawn with the assistance of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) which, together with the Joint Military Commission established by the Lusaka Agreement, will monitor and verify the disengagement of forces.

     The Secretary-General welcomes this significant step forward in the Democratic Republic of the Congo peace process. The United Nations is prepared to work closely with the parties in implementing the challenging provisions of the disengagement plan.  It is now the duty of all belligerents to ensure that their military forces comply with the decision taken by the Political Committee and that, in accordance with the plan, they ensure the security and full freedom of access and movement of the United Nations personnel and provide the necessary information. The MONUC is also required to monitor and verify the parties' movements.

     In this context, MONUC urgently needs specialized military units from Member States governments to prepare for the deployment of its troops and equipment to the interior of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The successful deployment of MONUC personnel will depend on the availability of such units. In this respect, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is arranging a meeting with potential troop-contributing countries later this week.

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