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DATE=8/10/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CONGO / REBELS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-252640 BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=NAIROBI CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 facilities. 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 controlled areas. 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) NEB/SS/GE/RAE 10-Aug-1999 09:04 AM EDT (10-Aug-1999 1304 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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