Zaire's rebels and representatives from the government they are trying to topple will meet face-to-face in the coming days, probably in South Africa, a rebel official said Thursday.
"They have decided to be serious and meet us," Bizima Karaha, the rebels' foreign affairs strategist, said during a summit of 15 African leaders in this West African capital.But "we don't trust them much because they are known for making promises they don't keep," Karaha said on the second day of the meeting.
Rebel leader Laurent Kabila has repeatedly refused to call a cease-fire until after, or in conjunction with, direct talks with President Mobutu Sese Seko, the ailing 66-year-old dictator he is trying to oust.
The rebels and the government sent delegations to the Organization of African Unity summit in Lome, but Karaha said attempts to bring the two sides together failed because the rebel delegation felt the people Mobutu sent didn't adequately represent the Zairian government.
Mobutu's daughter, Ngawali N'Bahia Ble, attended the summit, but the rebels refused to meet with her as well.
"Just because his daughter was here doesn't mean she represents a country," Karaha said.
Karaha did not give a date for the talks with the government nor say whether they would bring together Kabila and Mobutu. He said only that they would be "in a very few days to come," probably in Cape Town or Pretoria, South Africa.
"We are ready to go to any country as long as those Zairians are serious," he said.