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Mobutu sacks Zaire PM

GBADOLITE (Reuter) - President Mobutu Sese Seko sacked the reformist Prime Minister of Zaire, Etienne Tshisekedi, yesterday. Mr Mobutu blamed him for riots in which at least 80 people died. The President said he would ask the transitional parliament, the High Council of the Republic, to propose a new premier because Mr Tshisekedi had not fulfilled his mandate to form a new, broad- based cabinet.

'In view of Mr Tshisekedi's inability to form a government of national unity, I am asking the High Council of the Republic . . . to present me very swiftly with a personality to be charged with forming a government of public salvation,' he said.

Mr Tshisekedi was elected by a national pro-democracy conference last August. Mr Mobutu previously appointed him prime minister in October 1991 but sacked him within a week after he refused to swear an oath of allegiance.

At a news conference at his isolated stronghold of Gbadolite, 800 miles north of the capital, Kinshasa, the President made clear he would not allow the opposition- dominated HCR to re-submit Mr Tshisekedi's name.

Each has blamed the other for the mutiny on 28 January, which led to rioting and a crackdown by by Mr Mobutu's troops that left more than 1,000 dead, according to the government.

'I am asking them to propose another name,' Mr Mobutu said. 'Because of him my soldiers shot at each other.' The two men are locked in a struggle which has come to a head over new 5m-zaire banknotes, issued by the pro- Mobutu central bank but outlawed by Mr Tshisekedi.

Soldiers went on a looting rampage on Thursday after being unable to spend wages paid in the new notes. Elite troops loyal to the President crushed the riots mercilessly, leaving the streets littered with bodies, and there have been skirmishes between rival army units since then.