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Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
African leaders to discuss war in Congo
Congolese rebel troops
Will the Congolese rebels attend the talks?
The first of the two gatherings at the Victoria Falls summit will discuss the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

No fewer than six heads of state will attend these talks - those of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe itself.

Zimbabwe has more than 10,000 troops in Congo.

Alongside Angolan and Namibian forces, they support President Kabila against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

Economic cost

The war is very unpopular in Zimbabwe, where many people see it as a major cause of the current economic crisis.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Mr Mugabe faces opposition at home to his involvement in the Congo

Foreign donors, including the International Monetary Fund have cited it as a reason for refusing aid.

Zimbabwe has no obvious strategic interests in distant Congo, but President Mugabe insists it must defend another African country which was, as he put it, threatened by its neighbours.

Friday's hastily arranged summit follows reports of renewed fighting in the north-west, although all parties to the conflict had signed a new ceasefire in Uganda on 8 April.

The ceasefire, the third since the Lusaka peace accords of last July, was meant to inject new energy into the peace process.

Ceasefire 'essential'

The United Nations Security Council agreed in Feb to deploy 500 military observers to monitor the ceasefire in Congo and 5,000 troops to protect them.

Mr Kabila of DR Congo
Mr Kabila is backed by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola
But it said it would only do so if the ceasefire was indeed observed by the Congolese government troops, the various rebel forces and the five foreign armies involved in the conflict.

The Security Council said after the latest ceasefire that it would send a delegation to Congo to discuss concrete ways to enforce the Lusaka peace accord.

Diplomats said the delegation might leave in early May, travelling to Kinshasa to meet President Laurent Kabila, then on to Zambia for talks with other heads of state involved in the conflict.

A report by the UN special investigator on Congo said in March that the war had led more than 1m people to flee homes and 300,000 to go into exile.

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See also:

20 Jan 00 | Africa
Mugabe's costly Congo venture
10 Apr 00 | Africa
Mugabe urges UN troops in Congo
08 Apr 00 | Africa
DR Congo ceasefire agreed
24 Feb 00 | Africa
UN approves Congo force
24 Feb 00 | Africa
Congolese face the future
23 Jun 99 | Africa
DR Congo: What price peace?
25 Nov 99 | Africa
Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo
24 Mar 00 | Africa
Congo peacemaker goes home
03 Dec 98 | Zimbabwe
Mugabe's unpopular war
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