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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 04:22 GMT
DR Congo officials suspended
Diamond-dealing shops in Mbuji-Mayi
DR Congo's diamonds have attracted looters

The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, has suspended key government officials accused by a UN report of involvement in the looting of the country's natural resources.

They include some of the most powerful figures in the Kinshasa government, and state television said a judicial inquiry would examine all evidence against them.

The officials suspended by President Kabila include the National Security Minister, Mwenze Kongolo; the government's key negotiator at peace talks, Katumba Mwanke, and the head of the national security agency, Didier Kazadi Nyembwe.

Until now they had been regarded as untouchables and the government had firmly denied all charges made against them and other officials.

Evidence sought

But in a statement read out on state television on Monday, Kabila's cabinet director, Evariste Boshab, said the president had been unhappy to read in the UN report that Congo's four-year war had been driven by people exploiting its mines, forests and plantations.

He said the state prosecutor would open an inquiry into the allegations and invited all people with evidence to step forward.

The UN report, currently being debated by the Security Council, also names government ministers from Kinshasa's main ally, Zimbabwe, and top officers from the Ugandan and Rwandan armies which back rebels controlling eastern Congo.

It said the war had provided a cover for the officials and soldiers to make their fortunes through theft, embezzlement and fraud.


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21 Oct 02 | Africa
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