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Saturday, August 22, 1998 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK


World: Africa

Congo rebels advance on Kinshasa

Congolese troops take supplies to the frontline


Roger Hearing: Fears of a regional conflict
Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo say rebel forces have made significant advances towards the capital, Kinshasa.

A Reuters journalist travelling with the rebels says they have passed through the town of Kisantu, 100km from Kinshasa.


[ image: The rebels are within 100km of the capital]
The rebels are within 100km of the capital
The rebels say they have now advanced even closer to the capital.

Zimbabwe has sent troops and fighter jets to help President Laurent Kabila's forces defend the city.

The rebels say they have shot down two Zimbabwean fighter jets to the south-west of Kinshasa, but Zimbabwe has denied this claim.

The rebels also say the Angolan army has intervened on Mr Kabila's side, crossing the border from the Angolan territory Cabinda, and attacking the rebels from the rear, around the port of Moanda.

There is no independent confirmation of the Angolan incursion into Congo.

Kabila declines summit invitation


Mark Doyle: "Caught in a logic of war"
President Kabila and his close ally, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, both declined to attend an emergency summit organised in South Africa by President Nelson Mandela.

The summit is however being attended by the leaders of Rwanda and Uganda. President Kabila has accused both countries of backing the rebels.


[ image: President Kabila did not attend the peace talks]
President Kabila did not attend the peace talks
A South African spokesman said President Kabila was staying away because of ill health and would be represented by his justice minister.

The spokesman said efforts were also under way to persuade Robert Mugabe to attend the summit.

Our West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle says it was always unlikely that Mr Kabila would attend the summit, with all parties in the conflict being "caught in a logic" of war.

According to our correspondent, the president's intention is to push the rebels back to Rwanda, which is where the government says they came from.

Mr Mugabe is believed to be opposed to the meeting because other countries sympathetic to President Kabila - notably Angola - had not been invited.


Mandela's spokesman Parks Mankhalana: "Ceasefire can be agreed"
Earlier, Mr Mandela's spokesman said the main stumbling block to peace was the involvement of foreigners in the conflict.

Rwanda calls for ceasefire


[ image: President Kabila's supporters demonstrated in Kinshasa]
President Kabila's supporters demonstrated in Kinshasa
The Rwandan Government, which denies helping the rebels, has called for an immediate ceasefire in Congo.

Correspondents report that Kinshasa is suffering food shortages and rocketing prices, as a result of the electricity cuts which took place earlier in the week after rebels seized a power plant.

Meanwhile a senior envoy from New Zealand has gone to Uganda to try to secure the release of three tourists who were kidnapped along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo several days ago.

The three, including one New Zealander, were taken hostage by a Rwandan Hutu group. A Canadian woman who was released on Tuesday said the kidnappers wanted to draw attention to the plight of Hutu refugees.



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