GEMENA, Congo, March 15 -- On the day all sides in the Congo war were to begin pulling back from front lines, several hundred Ugandan soldiers assembled on the steamy airport tarmac here singing and cheering. In two years, they had penetrated as far into Congo as any invader, and now they were preparing to go home.

Five countries involved in the DRC conflict were set to disengage their troops on Thursday, in keeping with a UN Security Council resolution adopted last month. The Harare Disengagement and Redeployment Plan, signed by all parties to the conflict, thus goes into its next phase: Disengagement and Verification, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) stated in Kinshasa.