Mobuto Nears the End

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KINSHASA, Zaire: As Zaire continues to disintegrate, President Mobutu Sese Seko has finally agreed "in principle" to meet with rebel leader Laurent Kabila in South Africa. The formal invitation came from Nelson Mandela, who has been struggling to bring the two rivals together for peace talks in Cape Town. While Mobutu insists that a cease-fire precede any negotiations, Kabila has rejected any truce until Mobutu resigns the presidency. Considering the ease with which his rebels have taken more than half of Zaire, he has little incentive to bargain. Hundreds of Zairians rioted today in Kisangani, looting food intended for Rwandan refugees and threatening foreign aid workers with sticks and stones, forcing the U.N. to drop efforts to help the 100,000 refugees until calm is restored. The rioting was set off by a rumor that some of the refugees had killed seven Zairians. But the conflict is rooted in desperate jealousy. After thirty years under Mobutu, impoverished and starving Zairians have begun to demand some international aid of their own.