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Saturday, 24 November, 2001, 22:02 GMT
Rebels 'steal' DR Congo wages
Movement for the Liberation of Congo rebel group
MLC: accused of 'confiscating' 47m Congolese francs
By Mark Dummet in Kinshasa

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has accused rebels of confiscating money it had sent to pay the salaries of civil servants working in rebel-held areas.

They say the public workers have not been paid since the rebellion was launched in 1998.

The government has pledged to pay the wages as part of a peace process that seeks to re-unify the country.

President Joseph Kabila
President Kabila is trying to pay civil servants

The government of President Joseph Kabila accuses the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo of "confiscating" some 47 million Congolese francs, or $142,000, that it has just flown across the front line.

Ministers say they receive regular begging letters from district administrators, teachers and others, asking for help to buy such necessities as soap and salt, as they have gone for three years without their wages.

Peace plan

A spokesman for the rebel group denied they had stolen the money but said they had not released it because they had to first find out who the needy civil servants are.

At talks between the government and the various rebels groups in August, it was agreed that all sides would work together to re-unify the country and Kinshasa duly offered to pay the civil servants.

UN peacekeeping troops in DR Congo
Thousands of UN peacekeepers have been deployed in DR Congo

The rebel groups are distrustful of the offer, which they see as the government's attempt take over the country by other means.

One student was killed when demonstrators in the rebel-held city of Bukavu demanded they accept the offer.

Civil servants in the capital are also unhappy.

They too complain they are not paid and regularly go on strike.

See also:

20 Nov 01 | Africa
DR Congo 'looters' condemned
26 Sep 01 | Business
Congo pays the price for war
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Fighting mars Congo anniversary
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
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