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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
DR Congo peace talks extended
MLC troops
DR Congo rebels are split over sharing power
Peace talks between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and rebel factions, which were to due to end on Thursday, have been extended for another week.

The talks - in the South African resort of Sun City - are deadlocked on the issue of whether the Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, should stay in office.

Congolese rebels
The four-year civil war has claimed 2 million lives
The aim of the discussions, which have lasted for 45 days, is to end the civil war and make plans for a transitional government, eventually leading to elections.

In the DR Congo itself, fighting is continuing, reports the United Nations mission, Monuc.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is desperately trying to convince the Congolese Government and rebel factions to agree on a power-sharing compromise.

Rebel resistance

Mr Mbeki's plan would allow Mr Kabila to remain in office for another two-and-a-half years, while bringing rebel leaders into a council of state.

One of the main rebel factions, the Rwandan-backed RCD, is opposed to any deal that involves President Kabila remaining in power.

President Joseph Kabila
Kabila says he's willing to share power
"We are asking the government negotiators to give up talking about Kabila," RDC leader Adolphe Onusumba told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

The other key rebel group represented at the talks, the Uganda-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), says it is ready to work with President Kabila.

The MLC has suggested that all warring parties should have equal status within the future transitional government.

International pressure

Monuc spokesman Hamadoun Toure told the BBC's Focus on Africa that the fighting jeopardised the "small progress" made at the Sun City talks.

Fighting between government and rebel forces was continuing around the town of Moliro and there were also clashes between different rebel factions, he said.

The South Africans appear confident a compromise agreement can be reached within the remaining seven days.

The Congolese Government and rebel factions are now under considerable pressure; the South Africans, the European Union and the United States are all urging them to reach an agreement.

The civil war began in 1998, with an attempt to topple the government of the late Laurent Kabila.

Neighbouring countries stepped in, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the government's side and Uganda and Rwanda backing the rebels.

A ceasefire was agreed a year ago, but has repeatedly been broken - most recently in the eastern town of Moliro last month.

See also:

02 Apr 02 | Africa
'Kabila party' formed in DR Congo
16 Mar 02 | Africa
Fighting flares in DR Congo
14 Mar 02 | Africa
Congo peace talks hit by walk-out
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