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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 15:01 GMT
DR Congo leader tells rebels to go
MLC troops
The MLC has denied its men are cannibals

Representatives of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rebel group say they have been ordered out of Kinshasa by the government.

We are Congolese, and no-one has the right to order us to leave

Jose Endundo, MLC official in Kinshasa
The MLC has had a presence in the Congolese capital since last April, when the two sides signed a peace deal.

But recent fighting and reports of atrocities in north-eastern Congo have worsened relations between them.

A further peace deal was signed in December, paving the way for MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba to become one of Congo's vice presidents.

Security concerns

The permanent representative of the MLC in Kinshasa, Jose Endundo, said the MLC officials were told on Thursday to get out of the city as soon as possible by President Joseph Kabila's security advisor.

Mr Endundo said no reasons for the order were given, and that the MLC would not oblige.

Mr Endundo told the BBC: "We are in Congo, we are Congolese, and no-one has the right to order us to leave."

Jean-Pierre Bemba
Mr Bemba fears he would not be safe in Kinshasa

Mr Kabila's spokesman could neither confirm nor deny the story, but said that one MLC negotiator would be welcome to stay in Kinshasa.

Since the signing of a peace deal in Sun City, South Africa in April, the MLC has maintained a presence in the capital.

Although its leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has always refused to come to Kinshasa, citing security concerns, six of his key lieutenants and negotiators have at one time or other stayed in Kinshasa's main hotel, the Grand, at the expense of the Congolese Government.

MLC dissidents

On Wednesday the MLC received a letter from Mr Kabila's office saying it was no longer prepared to pick up the tab since the Sun City agreement had been superseded by the signing of a power-sharing deal in Pretoria in December.

But Mr Endundo, speaking from his luxury hotel suite, said he would refuse to foot the bill himself, since the Kinshasa government had still not given him back the homes it had confiscated from him when he joined Jean-Pierre Bemba's rebellion.

These are tricky times for the MLC and Mr Bemba.

The Kinshasa press has reported extensively on the atrocities committed by MLC troops in, first, the Central African Republic, and then north-eastern Congo, while a group of men claiming to be dissident MLC commanders say they have formed a splinter movement and no longer accept Mr Bemba's leadership.

There are many people who now doubt whether he will ever take up the post of vice president as agreed in the Pretoria agreement.


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15 Jan 03 | Africa
14 Jan 03 | Africa
30 Dec 02 | Africa
06 Nov 02 | Africa
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