East Africa

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila tours ex-rebel areas

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BBC

He has spent the past week driving from Kisangani in a 70-car convoy.

His is due to end his 930km- (575 mile) journey later in Rutshuru, which was held by the M23 rebels for more than a year.

On the way, he has made several speeches, warning the region's other militias to disarm or be hunted down.

This is Mr Kabila's first visit to the troubled North Kivu province for two years.

The mineral-rich area has been wracked by conflict for the past two decades but the defeat of the M23 has raised some hopes of a more stable future.

The BBC's Maud Jullien in Rutshuru says hundreds of people have gathered in the main stadium to listen to the president's speech.

The day has been declared a public holiday in the town and some people were prevented from farming their fields and encouraged to go see the president, our correspondent says.

"We are very happy, because we have suffered here under the M23 administration for over a year, and now the president has come to dry our tears," said a young man in the stadium.

But many local residents are afraid that the peace will not last, our correspondent says.

"The root causes of the problem are regional, and they haven't been resolved. There needs to be a regional agreement" Bienfait, one of the residents, said.

"The M23 is gone now but there is nothing to indicate that there won't be an M24 tomorrow or an M25 after that."

Both Rwanda and Uganda have denied repeated accusations that they supported the M23.

The international community has been calling on regional leaders to come up with a lasting solution to the crisis in the Great Lakes, as well as urging the M23 and the Congolese government to return to peace talks in Uganda and sign a deal.

"We know very well that a military victory alone is not good enough, there must be a political concept behind it," said the head of UN mission in Congo, Martin Kobler.

According to the authorities in Kampala, there are still more than 1,000 ex-rebels in Uganda, including its leaders.

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Uganda has said it will not hand them over to DR Congo unless an agreement is signed.

Many other armed groups remain active in eastern DR Congo.

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