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Rebel leader, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba
"We don't condone assassination as a way of solving problems"
 real 28k

The BBC's Mark Doyle in Abidjan
"The evidence is mounting that he is dead"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 15:10 GMT
Confusion over Kabila's fate
kabila
Kabila: Reportedly shot by his own bodyguard
The government in DR Congo says President Laurent Kabila has survived an assassination attempt, contradicting widespread and persisting reports that he has died.

The uncertainty threatens to plunge one of Africa's largest and most populous countries - which is divided by a rebellion - into further chaos.

Presidential spokesman Dominique Sakombi
Dominique Sakombi: The presidential spokesman says Mr Kabila is alive
Presidential spokesman Dominique Sakombi said after an emergency cabinet meeting that Mr Kabila had been flown out of the country for medical treatment, and that his son, Joseph, would take over while he recovered.

But foreign governments continue to assert that the president died in a shoot-out on Tuesday, and BBC correspondents describe the government announcement as an attempt to buy time for the succession.

Turmoil

Zimbabwe's defence minister, Moven Mahachi, said the president had died on a plane on his way to Zimbabwe for emergency treatment.

Crisis unfolds
Tuesday 1600GMT: Gunfire reported around Kabila's home
1700: Kabila reportedly orders army to close routes into Kinshasa
1800: Attempted coup reported
1800: Officials in Rwanda and Uganda say Kabila is dead
1920: Kinshasa says Kabila still giving orders
2000 Curfew imposed
2130: Belgian officials say Kabila is dead
Wednesday 1200 Kinshasa says Kabila is alive but wounded
1230: Zimbabwe says Kabila dies on the way for medical treatment

Earlier, Belgium, the former colonial power, said that according to reliable sources, a bodyguard had fatally shot Mr Kabila as he met senior generals he had sacked.

Belgian Foreign Minister Michel Malherbe insisted that Belgium was sticking to its earlier annoucement.

Evacuation

Security in the city has been increased, and people are milling about on the streets wondering what is going on.

But Mr Sakombi said DR Congo's airports were being re-opened, and a curfew was being eased.

The shooting comes at a time of mounting discontent in the army, which has recently suffered setbacks in the civil war.

Three generals were arrested last week.

Ugandan POWs
Ugandan POWs: A rebellion has gripped the east of DR Congo
The United States, citing "consistent reporting," said overnight that it believed President Kabila had been killed at his residence, known as the Marble Palace.

Britain followed suit early Wednesday, citing its ambassador in Kinshasa.

In Belgium, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced that the government was sending two military teams to neighbouring Gabon to prepare for a possible evacuation of foreign nationals.

About 2,500 Belgian citizens are currently resident in DR Congo, most of them concentrated in Kinshasa.

Kabila's rise to power
1960s: Begins low-level rebellion in east
No success until 1996 when Rwanda backs Kabila against Mobutu
May 1997 Mobutu flees
In 1998 Uganda and Rwanda turn against Kabila
Clings to power with backing of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe
Rebel groups backed by Uganda and Rwanda have been fighting the government in Kinshasa since mid-1998, leaving Mr Kabila in control of little more than half of the country.

The BBC's West Africa correspondent, Mark Doyle, says the rebels may decide to take advantage of any confusion and try marching on the capital.

But he said it was also possible that the departure of Mr Kabila from the political scene would serve as a catalyst to peace talks being encouraged by the United Nations.

Kinshasa and its enemies have failed to abide by a series of ceasefire agreements, deepening the country's profound poverty.

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See also:

17 Jan 01 | Africa
Cameroon talks overshadowed
17 Jan 01 | Africa
Belgium prepares Congo evacuation
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