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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Congo mining contracts to be reviewed
Central African Francs
Diamonds have fuelled the war in DR Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo's government and opposition groups have called for a review of the way lucrative mining contracts were awarded.

Former President Laurent Kabila
Kabila offered contracts in return for military support
The deals were concluded after the mineral-rich country was plunged into war six years ago.

The new resolution, adopted by delegates to Congo peace talks in South Africa, will now assess whether those contracts led to "illicit financial gain".

The resolution urges the end to deals obtained by foreign countries fighting in the former Zaire, especially Zimbabwe and Namibia

Congo is rich in gold, diamonds, copper and cobalt.

Spoils of war

Former president Laurent Kabila handed several rich mining concessions to foreign companies in 1996 before he toppled dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who had plundered the country's natural resources for over 35 years.

A United Nations report last year accused foreign armies of perpetuating the wars so they could continue exploiting Congo's reserves.

Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu plundered Zaire's natural resources
When Mr Kabila faced a revolt backed by Rwanda and Uganda in 1998, he signed business deals with allies Zimbabwe and Namibia in return for their military support.

The UN report singled out Rwanda and Uganda for systematically plundering the country's wealth - allegations rejected by both countries.

It added that Zimbabwe's contracts appeared to favour Harare's government and army with little benefit for the Congolese people.

Talks deadlocked

Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father as President in January 2001, has promised to introduce a new mining code later this year to attract foreign investors.

The talks in the South African resort of Sun City to end the current civil war are at a stalemate over whether President Joseph Kabila should remain as leader of an interim government.

They are due to end on Thursday but likely to be extended ahead of an 12 April deadline.

See also:

10 Apr 02 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks hit hitch
01 Aug 01 | Africa
Congo's coltan rush
20 Nov 01 | Africa
DR Congo 'looters' condemned
05 Sep 00 | Africa
DR Congo's diamond deal
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