DR Congo + 2 more

Congo rebels say Kabila tries to derail peace plan

By Manoah Esipisu
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The largest rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused President Joseph Kabila on Monday of trying to derail a peace plan by delaying the launch of an all-party transitional government.

At a news conference ahead of talks on the new government in South Africa this week, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) accused Kabila of raising the stakes by reinforcing his positions around Beni, northeastern Congo.

"This is serious confrontational behaviour by Kabila, which flies in the face of the spirit of the peace process," said Thomas Nziratimana, chief RCD representative in southern Africa.

He said Kabila planned to send troops to back rebel Mai-Mai fighters known to oppose the RCD's influence in the area.

Kabila's government denies delaying implementation of the peace process and says it is keen for a complete end to hostilities.

Uganda and Rwanda invaded Congo in 1998 to back rebels fighting the government. The war in Congo sucked in other foreign armies including those of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Most foreign troops have since withdrawn, but Uganda has a presence of some 2,000 soldiers due to withdraw by March 20.

The Kinshasa government, armed groups and opposition politicians will resume talks in South Africa on Thursday on a transitional constitution and an all-party government -- initially due to have been installed by end of January.

The talks will be overseen by officials from South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique, as well as former Botswanan President Ketumile Masire and U.N. special envoy Mustapha Niasse.

The RCD will demand that the meeting agrees on the deployment of a U.N.-led international peacekeeping force with a mandate to use necessary force in order to maintain peace.

It will also demand integration of the army and police and an undertaking by Kabila that he will create an atmosphere conducive to successfully implementing the peace pact.

The Congo government, rebels and civil society groups in December agreed a power-sharing deal and allocation of responsibilities in the army. They also reached an agreement on guaranteeing the security of rebel politicians in Kinshasa.

"We are keen to install Kabila as head of the entire country, not part of it. The only problem is his apparent reluctance to embrace the process and we hope the international community will press him to move forward on this," Nziratimana said.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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