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Friday, December 18, 1998 Published at 05:32 GMT

World: Africa

Peace plan for Congo

Congo rebels have support from two neighbouring states

Parties fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been presented with a peace plan at a summit of the Organisation of African Unity.

The OAU warned that if the war continues it will have catastrophic consequences for the whole continent.

At least seven states are involved in fighting across a vast geographical swathe of Central Africa.

The OAU peace initiative, drawn up at the summit in Burkina Faso, contains five recommendations.

  • An immediate cease-fire.
  • respect of national sovereignty.
  • withdrawal of foreign troops.
  • need to address security concerns in Congo and neighbouring states.
  • need for "internal political dialogue" in Congo.
OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim said states involved in the conflict will hold peace talks in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, on 27 and 28 December.

West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle: "Power vacuum"
He said: "It is hoped that at that date the cease-fire will be finalised."

BBC West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle said the sheer number of foreign armies involved in the war will make any peace negotiations complex and unwieldy.

During the OAU conference Congolese President Laurent Kabila showed little sign of relaxing his ban on talking with the rebels.

He says Congo is being invaded by Rwanda and Uganda, who are backing the rebels.

But it is hoped proximity talks can be held in Lusaka with President Kabila talking to the rebels through third party mediators.

Various peace initiatives since August have failed to end the fighting in Congo. A peace conference planned for Lusaka earlier this week was cancelled when Mr Kabila refused to talk with the rebels.

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