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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Hopes rise for DR Congo peace
Vital Kamerhe, government representative (l) and Olivier Kamitatu (r), of the MLC rebels
But divisions remain over a transitional government
There are signs that the warring factions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are moving closer to agreement at all-party peace talks in the South African resort of Sun City.

Reports say all the parties have now accepted, as a basis for negotiation, compromise proposals put forward by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

If we accept this proposal, it will merely transfer the war from the battleground to the council

Vital Kamerhe
Government representative
Broad agreement has been reached on the integration of rebel and government forces, but differences remain over the composition of a transitional government.

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.

The six weeks of talks were due to end on Thursday, but they have been extended for another week.

The facilitator, former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire, has indicated he hopes to see an agreement signed next Thursday.


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

The leaders of the two main rebel groups, the Rwandan-backed RCD and the Ugandan-backed MLC, would be vice-presidents and a prime minister would be drawn from the Dr Congo's civilian opposition.

The rebel leaders would be in charge of the army, the economy, the interior and of organising the country's first elections since independence from Belgium in 1960, reports the French news agency, AFP.

But the RCD is opposed to any deal that involves Mr Kabila remaining in power.

Equally, the government has said the rebel group would have too much power and wants the plans modified.

"If we accept this proposal, it will merely transfer the war from the battleground to the council and the government could not function," government representative Vital Kamerhe told AFP.

International pressure

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.

Sir Ketumile Masire, the facilitator
The talks have already lasted 45 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:

11 Apr 02 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks extended
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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