SA steps in to host peace talks for Zaire
Friday 21 February 1997
Speculation that the talks were already underway reached fever pitch yesterday after President Nelson Mandela said an aircraft was ready to fly the rebel leader Laurent Kabila to South Africa for talks with the nephew and chief military adviser of Mobutu Sese Seko, the ailing Zairean President.
Mr Mandela said South Africa was merely a host for the "good" initiative launched by Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, the neighbour Zaire accuses of backing the rebels.
South African military sources claimed that Mr Kabila landed early yesterday. The United States embassy confirmed that officials were in Cape Town to bolster the peace process.
By yesterday afternoon, however, a news blackout was in place. Rusty Evans, South Africa's director-general of foreign affairs, retracted earlier confirmations that Mr Kabila was in town. "There is a great reluctance on both sides to acknowledge that they are willing to negotiate," he said.
The Zairean government insists that it will not enter into peace talks before foreign troops have been withdrawn from its territory. Yesterday, it reiterated that position following the departure of four foreign ministers on a separate diplomatic mission to Kinshasa. A few hours later it announced fresh attacks on rebel positions.
The Zaireans talk tough but their counter-offensive launched last month has failed. And while Mr Kabila's vow to be in Kinshasa by last Christmas was over-optimistic, the rebels have made greater progress than anyone predicted.
Yesterday a spokesman for South Africa's Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, denied that he had been involved in talks with Zaireans. But another government source said he was laying the foundations for an imminent meeting. In Kinshasa, Leon Kengo Wa Dondo, the Zairean Prime Minister, claimed he knew nothing about the Cape Town meeting.
Last Tuesday, the United Nations approved a five-point plan to end the conflict which threatens to engulf the entire Great Lakes region. But an African-brokered peace would be seen as a coup for the continent, and for South Africa in particular.
- 1 Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
- 2 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 3 People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows
- 5 New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Ukraine crisis: Putin will cut gas to Europe unless Russia is paid by the end of the week
Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
Mohammed Emwazi: Nine things we now know about man named as Isis militant 'Jihadi John'
Kanye West climbs on table at Nando's to crowd chants of 'Yeezus' before Brit Awards 2015 performance of 'All Day'
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...
£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...