U.S. envoy to seek peaceful end to Zaire war
April 28, 1997
Web posted at: 10:14 a.m. EDT (1414 GMT)
In this story:
KINSHASA, Zaire (CNN) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations Bill Richardson was on his way to Zaire Monday with a
personal message from U.S. President Bill Clinton to Zairian
President Mobutu Sese Seko. Richardson hopes to broker a
peaceful end to Zaire's seven-month-old civil war and launch
serious negotiations on a transitional government.
Richardson was scheduled to meet with Mobutu in Zaire's
capital, Kinshasa, early Tuesday. The contents of the letter
from Clinton were not revealed.
Rebel leader Laurent Kabila said he would meet with
Richardson Wednesday in Lubumbashi.
Richardson plans to launch serious negotiations on a
transitional government in Zaire, but first must get Kabila
and Mobutu together. The two have agreed to meet but haven't
agreed on the location or the agenda.
Zambia, Gabon, South Africa possible hosts
Kabila wants the talks to be held in South Africa or Zambia.
Zaire has accused Zambia of aiding the rebels and looked
unlikely to consider the country as a neutral venue.
Mobutu, still recuperating from prostate cancer surgery in
August, also wants a venue closer to home. His son Nzanga
Mobutu said his father had accepted an invitation from
President Omar Bongo to meet his arch-foe in Gabon.
"President Mobutu has accepted to go to Gabon. It is closer
and easier and it's a solution accepted by everybody except
Kabila," he said, adding that Kabila was under pressure to
change his mind.
The agenda is also at issue. Kabila insists that he only
wants to talk about how and when Mobutu will leave office.
Mobutu has refused to consider stepping down.
Both the White House and the U.S. State Department have been
calling for Mobutu, who has ruled the vast Central African
country for 32 years, to give way to a transitional
Rebels stepping up advance on Kinshasa
Kabila said his rebels were gaining ground against Mobutu at
the same time as he cooperated with U.S. and South African
mediation to end seven months of fighting. His troops have
seized more than half of Zaire since October.
"We are committed to dialogue, but that doesn't stop us from
making military gains," Kabila said on arrival from Kisangani
for talks with commanders of his rebel Alliance of Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire.
International efforts to stage direct talks between the two
foes have intensified as rebels have stepped up their advance
on Kinshasa. Rebel leaders say they expect the capital to
fall within days. Government army commanders say they will
fight to the death to defend the city.
'Deep concern' over refugees
Prior to Richardson's departure, the White House said
Richardson "will also underscore the deep concern of the
United States regarding the humanitarian situation, refugee
repatriation and human rights in Zaire."
Up to 100,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees disappeared from their
camps in rebel-held east Zaire last week and fled to the
jungle. Kabila has denied his forces sparked their exodus by
attacking their camps.
He says his forces know where the bulk of them have gone and
will help U.N. agencies locate them. Kabila on Sunday
ordered their repatriation within 60 days.
Reuters contributed to this report.
- Zaire rebels give U.N. 60 days to repatriate refugees - April 27, 1997
- Zairian rebel leader, U.N. officials discuss missing refugees - April 26, 1997
- Zairian rebel leader pressed to provide answers - April 26, 1997
- As rebel noose tightens, Mobutu appears ready to talk - April 25, 1997
- Refugees vanish; Zaire rebels accused of 'slow extermination' - April 25, 1997
- Rwandan refugees flee Zaire camp, U.N. says - April 24, 1997
- Zairians attack aid train - April 21, 1997
- Mobutu-Kabila talks planned; success uncertain - April 18, 1997
- U.N. halts aid for Rwandans
after Zaire protest - April 18, 1997
- Malnutrition takes deadly toll on
Zaire refugees - April 9, 1997
- 'Missing' Rwandan refugees spotted in Zaire - Decembert 6, 1996
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