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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 22:12 GMT
Congo peace talks hit by walk-out
Congolese rebels
Congo's civil war continues despite a 1999 ceasefire
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has temporarily pulled out of talks with rebel groups being held in South Africa.

The government said it was suspending participation because the RCD rebel group and its ally, Rwanda, had launched "massive attacks" in the east of the country.

DR Congo timeline
1998 - Uganda, Rwanda try to topple Laurent Kabila
1998 - Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia prop up Kabila
1999 - Ceasefire signed but violated repeatedly
2001 - Kabila assassinated; replaced by son Joseph

A government delegate at the talks, Vital Kamerhe, said it was not possible to discuss peace while serious fighting was taking place on the ground.

Both Rwanda and RCD rebels have denied launching attacks. The RCD dismissed the charge as a pretext for the government to pull out of the talks at Sun City.

Not moving out

Congolese Communications Minister Kikaya bin Karubi said the government team would, however, remain in Sun City "to give peace a chance".

A BBC correspondent at the talks, Arnaud Zejtman, says the government delegation may be seeking to prepare itself better, and the situation could be reversed within a few days.

Map of Congo conflict showing rebel-controlled areas
The aim of the so-called inter-Congolese Dialogue is to end the long-running civil war in DR Congo and set up a transitional government which would oversee elections.

An estimated two million people have died as a result of the war, many of them from hunger and disease.

Another two million people have been displaced.

The talks in Sun City formally opened in February, and were expected to last 45 days.

See also:

06 Mar 02 | Africa
Stalled DR Congo talks resume
13 Jan 02 | Africa
Kabila seeks peace at SADC summit
12 Jan 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe looms over SADC meeting
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