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Saturday, September 12, 1998 Published at 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK


World: Africa

Congo peace talks break down

More troops may be sent to help the gvernment in Kinhasa

African defence ministers meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa have failed to broker a cease-fire to end the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The BBC's Jane Standley reports from the SADC meeting in Mauritius
Delegates at the meeting, held at the headquarters of the Organisation of African Unity, said the talks broke down over whether the rebels in Congo should be represented.


[ image: President Kabila's government says more towns have been recaptured]
President Kabila's government says more towns have been recaptured
Among those attending the meeting were ministers from Rwanda and Uganda, who correspondents say are sympathetic to rebels trying to overthrow the country's President, Laurent Kabila.

Delegates from Rwanda and Uganda walked out of the talks early on Saturday.

"You cannot negotiate a cease-fire until you have identified all the belligerents and have invited them to talks," the Rwandan delegate said.

The head of the Congo delegation, Joseph Kabila, the president's son and the Congolese army's chief of staff made very few comments after the failed meeting.

"Everybody who wants peace is disappointed," he said.

Warning from Zimbabwe After the talks broke down, Zimbabwe's Defence Minister, Moven Mahachi, said more troops may be sent by southern African states to support the Kinshasa government against rebels.


[ image: The rebels deny that the towns have fallen out of their control]
The rebels deny that the towns have fallen out of their control
In remarks to the Reuters news agency, Mr Mahachi accused Rwanda and Uganda of stalling peace efforts "to prepare for war", but said that efforts to find a peaceful solution would continue.

The Southern African Development Community nations are preparing for an annual summit in Mauritius at which the Congo crisis is expected to figure prominently.

The rebels are now refusing to be bound by an earlier cease-fire called by a regional summit in Zimbabwe after being barred from the meeting.

They now control large areas of eastern Congo, but were forced to retreat in the west of the country after the armies of Zimbabwe, Angola and Nambia intervened on President Kabila's side.

On Friday, the government in Kinhasa announced the recapture of the eastern town of Lubutu on the highway between the rebel-held city of Kisangani and the town of Bukavu.

This was denied by the rebels, who themselves announced the capture of the eastern towns of Shabunda and Aru. There was no independent confirmation of the position of either of the towns.



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