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Congo factions halt gunbattles, U.N. sources say

Soldiers loyal to Congolese President Joseph Kabila and fighters backing his election rival Jean-Pierre Bemba agreed on Tuesday to end days of gunbattles in the capital Kinshasa, U.N. sources said.
Ghanaian U.N. peacekeepers look out from the top of their armoured personnel carrier in Kinshasa
Ghanaian U.N. peacekeepers look out from the top of their armored personnel carrier in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa on Tuesday as the U.N. tried to broker an end to gunbattles between President Joseph Kabila's soldiers and fighters loyal to his election rival.  David Lewis / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

Soldiers loyal to Congolese President Joseph Kabila and fighters backing his election rival Jean-Pierre Bemba agreed on Tuesday to end days of gunbattles in the capital Kinshasa, U.N. sources said.

“They have both agreed to retreat to original positions and then continue talks. We are waiting to see if they take it seriously or not,” one U.N. source said after the world body hosted a meeting between the rivals’ armed followers.

Rocket and small arms fire earlier shook Kinshasa for a third day after Sunday’s announcement that Democratic Republic of Congo’s July 30 polls were inconclusive and Kabila would face a run-off vote against Bemba.

Since the announcement, heavily armed members of Kabila’s presidential guard have repeatedly clashed with soldiers loyal to Bemba, formerly head of the rebel MLC faction, now a political party which commands strong support in Kinshasa.

“Following the meeting at the U.N., MONUC (the U.N. peacekeeping mission) are doing joint patrols with the presidential guard and MLC soldiers,” a separate U.N. military source said.

“They are driving around to find out where the troops are and telling soldiers on all sides to go home,” the source said.