DRC: Bemba, Okitundu visit Uganda

from IRIN
Published on 24 Apr 2002
NAIROBI, 24 April (IRIN) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday congratulated the leader of the rebel Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo (MLC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on becoming the prime minister-designate in a transitional government, and met DRC officials to discuss normalising relations with them, AP reported.
The MLC leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, paid an official visit to Museveni - who has backed Bemba's rebel movement against Joseph Kabila's government - to inform him of the outcome of the inter-Congolese dialogue (ICD), which ended last week in Sun City, South Africa. Museveni also held talks with a DRC government delegation headed by Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu.

The delegation assured the president that it regarded the new power-sharing arrangement, which would allow Kabila to remain as president and install Bemba as prime minister, as the solution for the DRC crisis, news agencies reported.

A Ugandan foreign ministry spokesman told IRIN on Wednesday that his government fully supported the agreement arrived at by the Congolese. Asked whether Uganda's support for an agreement, which the Rwanda-backed rebel group Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) opposes, could have a negative impact on Ugandan-Rwandan relations, he said: "It has nothing to do with bilateral relations between the two countries." He added that Uganda would encourage all countries, including Rwanda, to support the agreement.

"As for relations with Rwanda, improvements have been made. It is better to look forward to the future. The past is the past," he said, referring to the clashes between the armies of the two countries in Kisangani, eastern DRC, in 1999 and 2000.

Meanwhile, an MLC delegation was due to arrive in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, on 27 April for talks, the Associated Press (AP) quoted a government spokesman, Vital Kamerhe, as saying. The government and the Uganda-backed rebels would work out the terms of their accord, including how great a role each would get in a Bemba-led government, Kamerhe said, adding that the door was still open for the RCD-Goma to join the peace agreement. "They take their orders from Kigali. That's why they have not joined the agreement," AP quoted him as saying.

The RCD-Goma, as well as opposition and civil society leaders who did not support the agreement, had met the Spanish ambassador to South Africa in Sun City, asking him to persuade the international community to press the DRC government to return and engage in talks on an all-inclusive deal, AP quoted Adolphe Onusumba, the leader of RCD-Goma, as saying. Spain currently holds the European Union (EU) presidency.

"We stressed to the EU representative that we want to end the war, to reunite the country and introduce democracy in Congo under the peace process that we all signed in 1998," Onusumba said. "This is the beginning of a political campaign both at home and abroad to press the government to come back to the negotiating table."

An RCD-Goma spokesman, Kin Kiey Mulumba, told IRIN on Tuesday that the RCD-Goma delegation attending the ICD was waiting in Sun City for the return of the government and MLC delegations in order to continue discussions. He could not say how long they would wait - maybe one or two weeks.


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