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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Government snubs new DR Congo talks
Jean-Pierre Bemba of the MLC (centre) with his bodyguards in Sun City
Bemba would have been PM under the new deal
The facilitator of the Democratic Republic of Congo peace talks tried on Monday to further extend the peace talks but government representatives had already left South Africa for Kinshasa.

The government of President Joseph Kabila and one rebel group last week signed a deal, leaving the largest rebel group out in the cold.

Sir Ketumile Masire, the facilitator
Masire wants even more talks
But the facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire, has still not giving up hope and will try to organise more talks.

Meanwhile, Rwanda, which backs the excluded Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), has warned that war could break out if the RCD is not brought back into the deal between the government and the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC).

"Kabila could have speculated that with [MLC leader Jean-Pierre] Bemba at his side, he could have more power... and might try to push the RCD out. If that is the case, it will lead to another war," warned Patrick Mazimhaka, Rwanda's presidential advisor on the Great Lakes.

"But the situation is not as hopeless as it looks, as long as Kabila is persuaded to return to the negotiating table."

'Working hard'

And Sir Masire's spokesman said that this could still happen.

"We are working hard to get the belligerents to get together and negotiate and contacts are being made right now," said George Ola Davis.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila
Kabila accepted a plan for a transitional government

Under the deal agreed last week, President Joseph Kabila will remain as head of state, while MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba will take up the new post of prime minister.

After extensions and suspensions, the talks in the South African resort town of Sun City lasted for eight weeks and involved more than 360 delegates.

Their aim was to end a civil war that has divided DR Congo into at least three parts for the past four years.

It was hoped that a transitional government could be set up, which would steer the country to multi-party elections.

The civil war began in 1998, with an attempt to topple the government of the late Laurent Kabila.

Neighbouring countries stepped in, with Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the government's side and Uganda and Rwanda backing the rebels.

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

See also:

12 Apr 02 | Africa
Hopes rise for DR Congo peace
11 Apr 02 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks extended
16 Mar 02 | Africa
Fighting flares in DR Congo
14 Mar 02 | Africa
Congo peace talks hit by walk-out
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