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UN says rebels could be leaving DR Congo city

28 November 2012, 09:46

Goma - The United Nations said Tuesday there are signs that rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are withdrawing from the strategic eastern city of Goma.

"It seems that the advances have stopped," UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told reporters. "If anything there were signs tonight that they were either getting out of Goma or getting ready to do that."

Ladsous said the withdrawal could only be confirmed by the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo on Wednesday.

M23 rebels took over Goma on Tuesday last week as they made a lightning advance through the mineral-rich North Kivu province.

The rebels have agreed to withdraw to positions 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of Goma under a deal struck in Kampala on Monday with an east African regional group.

Ladsous said the UN's main military advisor, General Babacar Gaye, would head for DR Congo and other East African countries on Tuesday to work out details of the withdrawal deal.

He said this would include the working of a proposed neutral zone, who controls Goma airport, which is currently in the hands of the UN mission MONUSCO, and how to set up a proposed international neutral force for DR Congo.

M23's military leader Sultani Makenga announced earlier that the rebels had agreed to leave by Thursday. But there was confusion as they set conditions that have been rejected by DR Congo.

The rebellion erupted in April when the M23, which UN experts have said is backed by neighbouring Rwanda, broke away from the DR Congo army, complaining that a 2009 deal to end a previous conflict had not been fully implemented.



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