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DATE=8/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CONGO / REBELS (L) NUMBER=2-252379 BYLINE=JOHN PITMAN DATELINE=ABIDJAN INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The leader of one of Congo-Kinshasa's rebel groups "The Movement for the Liberation of Congo" has signed the cease-fire agreement that was accepted by regional heads of state on July 10th. V-O-A's John Pitman reports from our West Africa Bureau. TEXT: Rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba signed the agreement (Sunday) in Zambia's capital, Lusaka. He was flanked at the signing ceremony by Zambia's president Frederick Chiluba - who mediated the negotiations that led to the July 10th cease-fire agreement - and Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa. Speaking to reporters after signing the cease-fire, Mr. Bemba said he hoped his signature would lead to a peaceful resolution of the crisis between the rebels and Congolese president Laurent Kabila. /// BEMBA ACT - IN FRENCH; ESTABLISH AND FADE UNDER /// Mr. Bemba said -- I have signed this agreement to give President Laurent Kabila a chance to leave power peacefully. Calling Mr. Kabila -- a criminal individual -- Mr. Bemba added that unlike the government in Kinshasa, his rebel movement would keep its promises to improve the lives of ordinary Congolese. Mr. Bemba's rebel group, "The Movement for the Liberation of Congo", the M-L-C, controls a small corner of northwestern Congo, but has recently captured two important towns. Friday, the M-L-C announced it had captured the town of Zongo, on the border of the Central African Republic. Earlier in July, Mr. Bemba's soldiers overran Gbadolite - the hometown of former Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. In Zambia (Sunday), Mr. Bemba said his forces are within 600-kilometers of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. But he stressed he would prefer to end the war peacefully. Mr. Bemba - whose father is president Kabila's Economy minister - said his troops would cease their offensive operations within 24-hours. But he said the M-L-C would continue to defend itself if attacked by government troops. The 37-year-old rebel leader said his next objective would be to convince the leaders of Congo's main rebel group, "The Rally for Congolese Democracy" to sign the Lusaka cease-fire agreement. /// REST OPT /// The R-C-D is currently divided into two factions, both of which claim leadership over the entire group. This internal division has prevented the R-C-D from signing the agreement, even though its representatives were among the key architects of the agreement signed July 10th. (SIGNED) NEB/JP/RAE 01-Aug-1999 14:21 PM LOC (01-Aug-1999 1821 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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