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Kinshasa Government Offers PM Position to Rebels - 2002-04-10

The government of war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo says it is ready to give the post of prime minister in a transitional government to a rebel leader, but the government says it will retain the presidency.

The Kinshasa government made the proposal Tuesday as peace talks aimed at ending nearly four years of war dragged in Sun City, South Africa.

Participants at the talks include Congolese rebels, politicians and civic groups.

Rebel demands for the naming of a new president to replace Joseph Kabila has been one of the main stumbling blocks at the peace talks. Congolese government officials insist that the presidency is not up for discussion. They say President Kabila will remain in office until a new election is called.

Tuesday, the main rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, rejected the government proposal. It says there is a problem of legitimacy concerning Mr. Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father last year.

The rebel group wants a new president to be chosen by the nearly 400 delegates in Sun City.

The talks, called under a 1999 cease-fire, have stalled for weeks over the formation of a transitional government and the creation of a new army. On Monday, South African President Thabo Mbeki stepped in to try to help forge an agreement.

The war in the Congo started in 1998 and pits rebel groups backed by Uganda and Rwanda, against government forces supported by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.