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Chronology: Conflict in the Congo

Ugandan soldiers joined the fighting for control of the Congo in 1999.
Ugandan soldiers joined the fighting for control of the Congo in 1999.

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Warring parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a post-war political settlement in South Africa last Wednesday.

Just one day later, almost 1,000 civilians were massacred by tribal militias in northerneast region on the country. (Full story)

Following are key events since the start of the conflict:

1998

• Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda take up arms against Congolese President Laurent Kabila in August, just over a year after the same two countries propelled him to power.

• Rebels make major gains. Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola send troops to help Kabila and halt rebels at the gates of Kinshasa.

1999

• In July, six African governments involved in the war sign cease-fire deal in Zambian capital Lusaka. Rebels ignore it.

• Rwanda and Uganda join fighting between rebel factions in August but by end-month the two countries agree to a truce and both the MLC and RCD rebels sign the cease-fire deal.

• In December, Organization of African Unity appoints former Botswana President Ketumile Masire as "facilitator'' of the "inter-Congolese dialogue'' to map Congo's new political future.

2000

• In February, U.N. Security Council authorizes 5,500-member force to monitor the cease-fire, but clashes persist between rebels and government forces.

• Heavy fighting between Rwanda and Uganda in east Congo in May. Three months later Hutu militiamen responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide attack Rwanda from Congolese territory.

• August Lusaka peace summit collapses, fighting continues.

2001

• Kabila shot dead by bodyguard in Kinshasa in January and replaced by son Joseph. He promises to revive peace process and allow United Nations force, obstructed by his father, to deploy.

• In February, Kabila meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Rwanda, Uganda and rebel groups back U.N.-brokered disengagement plan.

• Ugandan-backed MLC rebels start withdrawing from forward positions in June, the last of the combatants to pull back.

• Fighting breaks out in September between Rwandan-backed rebels and pro-government forces, and talks in October to launch the inter-Congolese dialogue in Addis Ababa collapse.

2002

• Uganda reinforces its troops in northeast Congo after hundreds die in ethnic clashes. Zimbabwe withdraws some troops and Angola says it has pulled out altogether.

• Inter-Congolese dialogue resumes on February 25 in South Africa but talks are suspended after one day as MLC rebels boycott meeting and others argue over representation.

• Talks resume in March, RCD rebels capture Moliro in east.

• South African President Thabo Mbeki submits proposals in April to break the deadlock, a week later Kabila and MLC rebels agree on new government in which Kabila remains president and MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba becomes prime minister.

• Rwandan-backed rebels reject the deal.

• In July, the presidents of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo sign a peace pact in Pretoria, providing for the withdrawal of Rwandan troops within 90 days.

• September 17: Rwandan troops begin pulling out of the Congo, the last of the 21,700 troops leave in October.

• November 15: Congo's warring factions gather in South African capital Pretoria to begin new round of talks.

• December 4: U.N. Security Council clears way for 3,200 extra peacekeepers to go to eastern Congo, total now 8,700.

• December 17: warring parties sign peace deal in Pretoria.

2003

• January 2: Renewed fighting in northeast Congo forces over 100,000 people from their homes.

• January 7: A military court sentences 26 people to death for their alleged role in the assassination of Laurent Kabila.

• March 2: Rebels say combined force of pro-government soldiers, tribal militia and Ugandan army troops kill hundreds of civilians in attack in northeast Congo.

• April 2: Congo's warring factions sign a post-war deal setting up an interim constitution and a transitional government to rule the country for up to 2-1/2 years until the first democratic elections in four decades.


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