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Vol 39 No 14

Published 10th July 1998


Embattled Kabila

Domestic and foreign pressures push the President towards a new political deal

By releasing from house arrest his arch-opponent Etienne Tshisekedi after a ‘cordial’ meeting in Lubumbashi in late May, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila is trying to shore things up on the domestic front as many of his former foreign allies publicly show their frustration with his government. It has even been suggested that Kabila might offer Tshisekedi the chair of the Constitutional Commission which is supposed to set the stage for elections. This looks improbable, given the difficult relationship between the two men but Tshisekedi told journalists on 7 July that he was now prepared ‘to work’ with Kabila for the sake of the country. Even if the two agree on a transitional political and constitution-making programme, it would still be difficult to meet the promised timetable for pluralist elections in April 1999. Yet holding what appear to be substantive talks with Tshisekedi shows that Kabila realises that he needs to offer the country more than new bank-notes and vague promises, as he did on 30 June, Independence Day.

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