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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 18:53 GMT
DR Congo rebels boycott peace talks
MLC troops
Uganda helped set up the MLC
Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the MLC rebels, has said that he will not go to South Africa next week for talks intended to bring political stability to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The talks are due to include the government, rebel groups and the political opposition.

The South African Government has set aside 45 days for the talks in the resort town of Sun City.

DR Congo has been racked by three years of war, following years of dictatorship under Mobutu Sese Seko.

The war has sucked in the armies of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe in support of the government and Rwanda and Uganda backing the rebels.

'No substitute'

Mr Bemba claims that many of the political parties invited to the talks are fronts for the government of President Joseph Kabila.

But neighbouring Uganda, which helped create the MLC, has urged Mr Bemba to go to Sun City.

Jean-Pierre Bemba
Bemba feels the talks are a waste of time

"We would advise all our allies to talk, because there is no substitute to talking," President Yoweri Museveni's security adviser Lieutenant General David Tinyefunza told the French news agency, AFP.

Another rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy backed by Rwanda, has said that it will take part in the talks.

"Unfortunately we are on the eve of a meeting that has already failed," Mr Bemba told a press conference in Paris.

"We will not go to Sun City," he said. "Not for capricious reasons, but because we have observed a lack of transparency in the process organised by the mediators on the make-up of the members from non-armed opposition groups."

Following a ceasefire signed in 1999 by the countries involved in the Congolese war, the "national dialogue" is supposed to find a solution to the country's long-term political stability.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Africa
Death rate soars in DR Congo
13 Jan 02 | Africa
Kabila seeks peace at SADC summit
12 Jan 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe looms over SADC meeting
12 Aug 01 | Africa
Packed agenda for SADC leaders
24 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malawi
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