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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 11:40 GMT

World: Africa

Congo peace talks fail

More talks promised but battle plans are being drawn up

A meeting of African foreign and defence ministers has failed to secure a ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Africa Correspondent Greg Barrow: "Talks fail again"
But at the end of two days of talks in Lusaka, the Zambian Government has said it will continue the search for peace.

Congo Government forces and Tutsi-led rebels have been battling for control of the country since August. A draft agreement was put on hold after both sides failed to agree to implement it. Bilateral talks with both sides are now planned.

The Congolese delegation refused to take part in face-to-face negotiations with rebel representatives, who have called for direct talks.

Zambian officials acted as intermediaries with the rebel delegation, who were allowed into the hotel where the meeting took place, but excluded from the discussions.

[ image: Mr Kabila: Has refused to talk to rebels]
Mr Kabila: Has refused to talk to rebels
Backers of the Congolese Government say the refusal of Rwanda and Uganda to acknowledge their support for the rebels has been a major sticking point.

Uganda admits having troops in the east of Congo, but says they are there to protect Kampala's own interests, while Rwanda denies any military presence.

One of the rebel's political leaders, Ernest Wambia dia Wambia, had warned that anything other than direct talks with President Kabila would be a waste of time. After the talks, he said the fighting would continue.

House arrest

Meanwhile in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi is reported to have been put under house arrest.

The veteran politician had been invited to present a peace plan to the European Parliament but was prevented from flying at the weekend. He is said to favour direct talks with the rebels.

More troops

[ image: Rebel soldiers - anything but direct talks a 'waste of time']
Rebel soldiers - anything but direct talks a 'waste of time'
Zimbabwe has been building up its forces in Congo - a move that has angered South Africa which is seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Congo President Laurent Kabila's three southern African allies - Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia - who helped save the capital Kinshasa in August, have said their troops are to take the war to the rebels in the east of the country, where the insurgents have been making advances.

There are reports of up to 2,000 more Zimbabwean troops being sent to the region. Regular convoys are reported to be moving towards the military airport outside Harare by residents along the airport road.

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