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DATE=12/15/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=CONGO PEACEKEEPERS NUMBER=5-44995 BYLINE=TODD PITMAN DATELINE=GOMA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Nearly a year and a half after rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo took up arms to oust President Laurent Kabila, a small United Nations peacekeeping mission has started deploying across the country. Todd Pitman has more on the story from rebel headquarters in the eastern border town of Goma. TEXT: Dressed in blue-berets and green military fatigues, four-officers from the United Nations Observer Mission in the Congo - or MONUC, as it is called - study a map of the vast country spread across a table in a Goma hotel. The officers - from India, Senegal, Romania and Bangladesh - are here as part of a peace accord signed in the Zambian capital Lusaka last August. The peace deal called for a ceasefire and international observers to monitor it, but implementation has been slow. So far, only a few dozen U-N military liaison officers, or M-L-Os, have been deployed. Indian Lieutenant Colonel Ravi Kumar Nair is the head of a four-man team that has been positioned in the eastern border town of Goma since last month. /// NAIR ACT ONE /// At least now we've established a close link with the military headquarters of the various groups, the various signatory parties and to that extent at least now we're getting a lot of information a lot of reports at the MONUC headquarters which has been corroborated there and such reports are going to the concerned authorities. So to that extent, yes at least now our ears and eyes are open all across Congo. /// END ACT /// But these officers are not actually authorized to monitor cease-fire violations. For the time being, they are here only to maintain contact between the warring parties and provide assistance to a handful of observers from the Organization of African Unity, who are already positioned in three towns. Again, Lieutenant Colonel Nair. /// NAIR ACT TWO /// As we get more of our M-L-O teams positioned at various locations we would thereafter in the subsequent phase deploy observers and they would actually verify the ground situation. Meanwhile we've already got certain O-A-U observers deployed at Lisala, Boende, and Kabinda. /// END ACT /// The Security Council will vote in mid-January on whether to send 500 U-N observers to join the mission as possible forerunners of a major peacekeeping operation that could number up to 25 thousand. But a major peacekeeping operation seems doubtful. The international community, which has invested large amounts of money and men recently in Kosovo and East Timor, has shown little interest in getting caught up in Congo's complex war - which has drawn in at least six foreign armies since it began and divided Africa's third largest country in two. Already the United Nations Observer Mission faces tremendous obstacles in the Congo, where it is hampered by a lack of funds, huge bureaucracies and rebel officials who doubt its effectiveness. Kin-Kiey Mulumba is a spokesman for a wing of the main rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy. /// MULUMBA ACT ONE IN FRENCH, ESTABLISH AND FADE /// Mr. Mulumba says it's a good thing the United Nations has sent observers to the Congo, but the rebels have no illusions about the ability of the U-N to find a solution to the crisis, given its failure to solve other conflicts on the continent. The U-S Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, ended a tour last week of Africa, where he met regional heads of state involved in the war, as well as leaders of the three main rebel groups. Mr. Holbrooke said the United States would donate one million dollars to a commission struggling to implement the peace accord, and he urged other international donors to do the same. /// HOLBROOKE ACT ONE /// We reaffirmed the United States' desire to support U-N peacekeeping efforts in Congo while stressing again that after the great calamities that the United Nations suffered in the early 90s in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda, that we had to get it right this time around. /// END ACT /// Ambassador Holbrooke said implementation of the Lusaka accord had been slow, and said Washington would not support a peacekeeping mission in the Congo until the warring parties agreed on a neutral facilitator to mediate the conflict. Most civilians caught up in the war just want foreign troops to leave. Bindu Lubao is a 23-year-old trader at the central market in Goma. /// LUBAO ACT ONE IN FRENCH, ESTABLISH AND FADE /// Mr. Lubao says as long as the ceasefire is not respected, the United Nations will not send peacekeepers. And the ceasefire, he says, is being violated by the government in Kinshasa and by the rebels. Most people in Goma have little faith in the United Nations and do not think it will be able to bring about a solution to the conflict. Lieutenant Colonel Nair says only the warring parties themselves can create an environment in which the mission can operate successfully. /// NAIR ACT /// Now you'll understand that it's very important that the primary responsibility for the successful implementation of the Lusaka agreement lies entirely with the signatory parties and the United Nations is just committed to providing its good offices to help implement and expedite this peace process. /// END ACT /// But with fighting continuing and both sides saying they have little faith in each other to implement the accord, peace in the Congo still seems a distant dream. (Signed) NEB/TP/GE/KL 15-Dec-1999 08:29 AM EDT (15-Dec-1999 1329 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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