TITLE=CONGO / REBELS (L-ONLY)
INTRO: African diplomats are expected to be in rebel
held Congo (Tuesday) to try to advance a regional
peace plan to end the country's civil war. But as
Correspondent Scott Stearns reports (from Nairobi),
rivalries within the rebellion are making it harder to
strike a deal with the government in Kinshasa.
TEXT: South African Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Zuma,
wants rival rebel groups to agree to a regional peace
plan with Congolese President Laurent Kabila.
Rebels have split the city of Kisangani after a
weekend of fighting between followers of Ernest Wamba
dia Wamba and his rival, Emile Ilunga. Ugandan
soldiers protecting Mr. Wamba control the main airport
and most public buildings. Rwandan troops backing Mr.
Ilunga run the municipal airport and broadcasting
Kisangani is Congo's third largest city and a major
market for the diamond trade from the interior as well
as river commerce farther west. Conflict there shows
how difficult it has been to keep this rebellion
together for a year when it was originally designed to
last just a few months.
Driven back by President Kabila's Angolan allies,
rebels failed to capture the capital, Kinshasa. That
led to a slow, more costly ground war in the East and
finger pointing among rebel allies again embroiled in
a lengthy conflict in Congo less than two-years after
toppling the last government.
Power struggles within the rebellion led Mr. Ilunga to
oust Mr. Wamba in May. That led to further tension
between Uganda and Rwanda with both now pursuing
separate fronts in the war. Rwandan troops are in the
south near the town of Mbuji Mayi. Uganda is
supporting the northern offensive of a separate rebel
group led by Jean-Pierre Bemba.
On this latest diplomatic initiative, the South
African Foreign Minister is joined by Zambian Minister
for Presidential Affairs, Eric Filwamba. They want
rebels to agree to last month's regional peace plan
calling for a U-N Observer Mission and a national
dialogue on the future of Congo.
Mr. Wamba says he is ready to sign. Mr. Ilunga says
Mr. Wamba no long has any authority in the rebel
movement and refuses to sign any plan until their
struggle is resolved. Part of what is at stake is who
names rebel representatives to the national debate.
Regional observers say the diplomatic challenge now is
recognizing Mr. Ilunga's role in Rwandan controlled
areas without threatening Mr. Wamba's place in Ugandan
Before his foreign minister's trip to Congo, South
African President Thabo Mbeki met in Pretoria with the
leaders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, who he says
are looking forward to making progress on Congo.
Various rebel groups control more than one-third of
the country. President Kabila's army has held out in
the south and the west with help from Zimbabwe,
Angola, and Namibia. (SIGNED)
10-Aug-1999 09:04 AM EDT (10-Aug-1999 1304 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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