Surprise `breakthrough' in Congo crisis talks

A BREAKTHROUGH in the war in Congo was claimed last night after talks involving Congolese president Laurent Kabila, the rebels trying to oust him and the presidents of the five African countries already embroiled in the fighting.

Zambian president Frederick Chiluba chaired a meeting yesterday at Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls between Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan president Pasteur Bizimungu on one side and President Kabila and his allies, Namibian president Sam Nujoma, Angolan president Eduardo dos Santos and Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on the other.

Mr Chiluba, chosen to front the Mugabe initiative, said all the participants had reached an agreement on the month-old war, which threatens to turn into a regional disaster. He promised details of the agreement would be released this morning.

Claims of consensus between the warring governments surprised observers. Allday the talks had been in a delicate position, hampered by a host of formidable obstacles. The first and most fundamental concerned the status of the rebels at the talks. Congolese officials warned they would walk out if the rebels were brought into face-to-face negotiations.

When the rebels arrived - four hours late - from their headquarters in Goma, eastern Congo, after aircraft failure, they wanted a seat of their own at the negotiating table.

But Mr Kabila and his allies insisted they sit with their backers Rwanda and Uganda, reflecting Congo's insistence that it is facing an invasion by Rwanda and Uganda, through a puppet rebel movement, and not a genuine rebellion.

Following a low-key reception at Victoria Falls airport, the rebels were ushered in via a side door, confined to a side room with no telephone, and guarded "for their own safety" by Zimbabwean police. Mr Chiluba met them separately from other the heads of state.

If substantial progress has been made it will be a feather in the cap of Mr Mugabe, who has used the Congolese crisis to relaunch himself as a regional statesman - a role he has reluctantly relinquished in recent years to South African president Nelson Mandela.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before