U.S. Water News Online
KINSHASA, Congo -- The Congolese government agreed Monday
to reopen the Congo river to commercial and civilian traffic, a move
that will restore important links between key cities in the vast
central African nation divided by a nearly 4-year war.
After signing the U.N.-sponsored agreement, Transport Minister
Dakalwardino Wakale said the move will open Congo's economy.
Rebel groups which control northern and northeastern Congo agreed
to the reopening of the river last month.
The United Nations has been pushing for the reopening of the
2,900-mile Congo River, navigable from the capital to the
northernmost port city of Kisangani, which is under rebel control.
The river is crucial to support 2,100 U.N. troops and 200
civilians who will be deployed in the eastern Congolese town of Kindu
to disarm the armed groups in Congo.
The United Nations also plans to deploy 1,200 more troops and
civilians at the logistical base in Kisangani to support the
operation that could last up to two years.
``This is evidence that the Congolese are serious about reunifying
their country,'' said Amos Namanga Ngongi, U.N Secretary-General Kofi
Annan's special representative to Congo.
U.N. river units will accompany the first boats using the river.
The war broke out in Congo in August 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda
sent troops in support of Congolese rebels fighting to oust
then-President Laurent Kabila. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent
troops to back the government.
The U.N. Security Council began its third visit to Africa recently
to push for an end to the war in Congo, just days after the collapse
of talks on Congo's political future raised the specter of renewed
The government reached a deal with the Ugandan-backed rebel
Congolese Liberation Movement on the sidelines of the talks held in
Sun City, South Africa, but the agreement was rejected by the
Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, or RCD.
The RCD is the largest rebel group and controls Kisangani.
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