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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
DR Congo factions inch towards peace
MLC troops
These rebels are now ready to share power
A key rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo has for the first time accepted a role for President Joseph Kabila in a post-war transitional government.

The secretary-general of the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), Olivier Kamitatu, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that all parties should have equal status within the interim administration.


We are ready to work with Kabila, not under Kabila.

Olivier Kamitatu, MLC

On Monday, the government in Kinshasa proposed that President Kabila should share power with a prime minister chosen from the political opposition or rebels groups, in a new administration charged with organising elections.

Both offers were made at all-party talks in the South African resort of Sun City, due to end this week.

Divided country

The Ugandan-backed MLC, led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, is one of the two main rebel groups that have been fighting the government for almost four years.

"Nobody has won, nobody has lost the war, so we must share equal status," the MLC's Olivier Kamitatu told the BBC.

"We are ready to work with Kabila, not under Kabila," he added. "It's up to the participants (in Sun City) to find the role Kabila can play during the transition period."

The civil war began in 1998, when the MLC and the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) tried to topple the government of the late Laurent Kabila. The conflict has divided the country in three.

Peace hopes were revived in January 2001, when Kabila's son, Joseph, succeeded his murdered father.

A ceasefire was agreed a year ago, but has repeatedly been broken - most recently in the eastern town of Moliro last month.

Silent prayer

Disagreement between Kinshasa and the rebel groups on President Kabila's future has for weeks created a deadlock at the Sun City talks, which are meant to bring a definitive end to conflict.

President Joseph Kabila
Kabila too has a peace plan
The Rwandan-backed RCD has so far insisted that Mr Kabila should step down.

Another sticking point is the structure of the army - which the rebels say should be dismantled.

As negotiations were continuing in South Africa, thousands of people in Kinshasa took to the streets on Monday to pray for peace.

The prayer was marked by five minutes of silence and the ringing of church bells.

"We rang the bells and we prayed for our country because we are suffering," a demonstrator told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"We are threatened and attacked," another man said. "But we know there is a God, the God of our ancestors, to whom we prayed for five minutes to show that we are not at peace."

See also:

02 Apr 02 | Africa
'Kabila party' formed in DR Congo
16 Mar 02 | Africa
Fighting flares in DR Congo
14 Mar 02 | Africa
Congo peace talks hit by walk-out
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