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DRC-Southern Africa: Kabila condemns South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG, 19 January (IRIN) - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent-Desire Kabila has accused the South African government of hypocrisy, alleging that while advocating peace it was arming the Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels.
In an interview with the Johannesburg daily, 'The Star' Kabila said: "Relationships are not very good and the simple reason for this is that from the start, South Africa has not stopped supporting Rwanda. South Africa is a compulsory channel of all the weapons for Rwanda and Uganda. South Africa has distinguished itself by its campaign of destabilisation." He added: "We have a South African ambassador here and we ask ourselves does he really represent his country? What is his mission if his country supports the rebels, the aggressors and even arms the aggressors."

Kabila also condemned South Africa for holding talks with DRC opposition leaders, most recently last week when President Thabo Mbeki met Etienne Tshisekedi in Pretoria. "This is an intervention in the internal affairs of the Congo and we must say that this must come to an end," he said.

In response to the interview, Mbeki's spokesman Parks Mankahlana said: "All these allegations are devoid of truth. We do not want to exacerbate the situation in the DRC and do not support anybody who has the intention of prolonging the conflict." He added that the South African government would continue to pursue peace in the DRC.

Kabila, however, said the only role for the international community was in ridding his country of foreign forces. He warned that if the peace process failed, "the people of the Congo will be forced to defend themselves, to organise themselves, to organise themselves to resist slavery and as a result the people will be forced to expand the struggle."

[ENDS]

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