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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
DR Congo rebels cement alliance
President Joseph Kabila
Kabila is under increasing pressure from RCD rebels
A leading opposition figure in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has begun a visit to the rebel-held east of the country, marking closer ties between opponents of President Joseph Kabila.

Veteran Congolese politician Etienne Tshisekedi says he plans to tour the region and explain to party members the details of a pact between his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and the main Congolese rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD).

Uganda backs MLC rebels, Rwanda backs RCD rebels
Uganda backs MLC rebels, Rwanda backs RCD rebels
As Mr Tshisekedi began his trip, a United Nations human rights investigator accused the Rwandan-backed RCD of massacring more than 150 people in DR Congo's second city of Kisangani in May.

Asma Jahangir, who visited Kisangani earlier this month, called for those responsible for the massacre to be brought to justice.

She accused the RCD of carrying out "targeted extrajudicial killings" after a mutiny by some of their dissident troops.

Cool welcome

Mr Tshisekedi flew into Rwanda from his base in South Africa on Wednesday, before making the quick hop over the border into rebel-controlled eastern DR Congo.

According to eye-witnesses at the airport Mr Tshisekedi did not receive a warm welcome.

One high-ranking official told the BBC's Mark Dummet in Kinshasa by telephone from Goma that hardly anyone turned out to greet the veteran opposition leader.

Child in Kindu hospital
DR Congo faces a huge humanitarian crisis

He said that as his convoy passed into town several residents picked up handfuls of the volcanic rock which cover the area and stoned the cars.

A local journalist said that anti-RCD and Rwandan feelings are as strong as ever in the town, and that the arrival of Mr Tshisekedi is regarded as simply being one more Rwandan propaganda move.

It comes two months after the Union for Democracy and Social Progress and the RCD signed a pact, known as the Alliance for the Safeguarding of the InterCongolese Dialogue.

For the past 20 years, Mr Tshisekedi has been the highest profile Congolese opposition leader.

He led the campaign against the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Leader absent

He says he will spend a couple of weeks in RCD-controlled territory - after Goma he is due to visit the main towns of Bukavu, Kalemie, Kindu, Lodja and Kisangani, where he will be meeting local UDPS officials to discuss the terms of the deal he made with the RCD in April.

Adolphe Onusumba, RCD leader
The RCD wants to bring the government and MLC back to the negotiating table

This alliance is supposed to be a pressure group to lobby for the continuation of the peace process.

This broke down when the Kinshasa Government and the Ugandan-backed rebel groups, including Jean Pierre Bemba's MLC, signed a power-sharing deal.

Mr Bemba was supposed to become the prime minister but has not yet come to Kinshasa to take up his post.


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26 Apr 02 | Africa
25 May 02 | Africa
01 Jun 02 | Africa
13 Jun 02 | Africa
24 May 02 | Africa
17 May 02 | Africa
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