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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Kabila warns DR Congo's ex-rebel
Militiamen loyal to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba
Mr Bemba's guards were chased out of the city centre
The Democratic Republic of Congo president has defended the army's role in last week's violence, which led to at least 150 deaths in Kinshasa.

"Order had to be restored at any cost," said President Joseph Kabila.

He also dismissed calls for talks with opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, saying: "You do not guarantee security through negotiation."

The violence threatened to derail the peace process which ended DR Congo's war and led to elections last year.

Mr Kabila defeated Mr Bemba, a former rebel leader, in a second round run-off.

But Mr Bemba refused to have his armed bodyguards integrated into the national army before last week's deadline.

'Judicial procedure'

Mr Bemba had tried to put himself above the law, Mr Kabila said in his first comments since the clashes.

"Could a militia group in Paris seize the Champs Elysees and then have a reconciliation the next day? If not, why should it be so in Congo," he said.

View of Kinshasa from across the Congo-Brazzaville border
I am afraid of what the opposition can do
Ugoo, Nigerian businessman

The army regained control of the capital, Kinshasa but Mr Bemba sought refuge in the South African embassy.

As a senator, he enjoys immunity from prosecution but the government says it will seek to have this stripped.

The "judicial procedure" would be followed, Mr Kabila said.

Mr Bemba denied plotting military action to overthrow the president and accused the army of trying to kill him.

On Monday, he told the French Le Monde newspaper that he feared "a new dictatorship" in DR Congo if the opposition continued to be targeted.

But Mr Kabila denied trying to turn the country back into a one-party state, as it was under Mobutu Sese Seko.

As a former vice-president in the transitional government, Mr Bemba is entitled to 15 policemen for his protection.

Under another agreement signed ahead of the election, the winner of the presidential poll is committed to guarantee the loser's security.

Last year's election - the first free poll in four decades - passed off peacefully, raising hopes of an end to years of conflict and mismanagement.

President Joseph Kabila won 58% of the vote compared to Mr Bemba's 42% in an election run-off last October.


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