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Vol 42 No 6

Published 23rd March 2001


Slow, slow

Western powers like Joseph Kabila but that doesn't mean a quick peace

Peace on the ground is no nearer in Congo-Kinshasa since Laurent-Désiré Kabila's murder on 16 January but the diplomats are smiling more (AC Vol 41 No 4). Son and successor President Joseph Kabila has been favourably received in Western capitals, notably by the 'contact group' of Belgium, Britain, the United States and France. The Western powers are offering Kabila II a trade off: if Kinshasa takes the Lusaka accord seriously - which means talking to United Nations mediator Ketumile Masire and not obstructing the deployment of UN observers - then the West will lean on Rwanda and Uganda to pull their troops back and rein in their sponsored rebel factions. Washington has already started sending 'frank messages' to Kigali and Kampala about their obligations under Lusaka and the diplomatic and other consequences should they flout them. Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook gave Kabila a similar message: 'Comply with Lusaka and we're ready to help you'.

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