Position of Power

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KINSHASA, Zaire: The new prime minister of Zaire wants rebel leaders to join the party. Etienne Tshisekedi, a longtime Mobutu opponent, offered rebels a slew of government posts, including defense minister, in hopes of deflating the rebellion he is suddenly in charge of stopping. Rebel leaders aren't biting. "This doesn't go with our political demands," rebel spokesman Raphael Ghenda told France Info today. "Mobutu must be deposed from power and the Alliance must be assured of a democratic transition." Kabila once was friendly with Tshisekedi and his opposition party. But as the rebels advance south towards Lubumbashi and the mineral-rich Shaba region, their leader simply has no more need for a friend in the government. "Kabila holds absolutely all the cards," says TIME's Peter Graff. "Opposition or not, Tshisekedi is still a member of the Kinshasa political elite, and though he has some popular support, Kabila doesn't owe him anything and has no reason to be impressed with this offer." Though government and rebel representatives began arriving today in South Africa for talks aimed at ending the conflict, the same axioms of negotiation are likely to apply in Johannesburg. "It's hard to see why Kabila would want to give up anything at all," says Graff. Despite increasing pressure from France and the U.S. to talk peace, the rebel leader will not accept anything less than the fall of Mobutu and his government, Graff said. "He has no reason to."