A one-day summit meeting of the military allies of the Kinshasa government opened in Harare on Monday without the attendance of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent-Desire Kabila, news agencies said.
The talks between the leaders of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe were held to “map out the way forward in terms of a [DRC] peace agreement,” a Zimbabwean government official told IRIN.
According to news reports, Kabila’s absence was due to the military situation in the DRC following the fall of his hometown of Manono in the southeastern province of Katanga to the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) late last week.
The Harare summit follows the announcement last weekend of a unilateral ceasefire by Rwanda, which was rescinded by Kigali in reaction to the bombing of the rebel-held town of Uvira by DRC government forces on Wednesday. Zimbabwe has since accused Rwanda, which supports the RCD, of launching its heaviest attacks since the war began in August. However, the Rwandan ceasefire declaration was reportedly among the issues for discussion at the Harare gathering.
The unsteady DRC peace process is now focused on a regional summit later this month in Zambia under the mediation of President Frederick Chiluba in which rebel representatives would participate, regional analysts said. “We are supposed to discuss a ceasefire under Chiluba with everybody,” Ugandan presidential spokeswoman Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Monday.