Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 01:35 GMT 02:35 UK
Congo rebels ready for cease-fire
Kinshasa students protest against foreign support for the rebels
Rebels fighting to overthrow the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo say they are willing to negotiate a cease-fire with the forces of President Laurent Kabila.
The development came as the Reuters news agency quoted the rebels as saying they had taken a key military outpost on the road to Kinshasa.
A rebel commander, Dioudonne Kabengele, told Reuters his forces had captured Mbanza Ngungu, 120 km south-west of the capital, after heavy fighting.
A warning to outsiders
Earlier, the rebels warned against regional military intervention in the conflict, saying it would only worsen the situation - President Kabila has urged neighbouring governments to provide assistance.
Zimbabwe and Angola have said they are prepared to help President Laurent Kabila resist the rebellion.
They support President Kabila's charge that invading Rwandan forces are involved in the rebellion, and that such rebellions should not be allowed to succeed - Rwanda denies involvement.
The South African President, Nelson Mandela, has said his country will not worsen the position, as he put it, by sending a military force.
Most electric power to Kinshasa has been cut following the fall to the rebels of the large Inga hydroelectric dam on the river Congo.
Our correspondent in the city says the mood is tense and no one seems to know how far away the rebels are.
The cost of basic commodities such as bread and vegetables has increased. State-controlled radio said some items had doubled or tripled in price and it condemned what it called unpatriotic market traders.
Another pro-government demonstration was organised in the centre of town, this time by students. The marchers condemned France and the United States whom they said supported the rebels.