Richardson to Negotiate Peace

  • Share
  • Read Later
KISANGANI, Zaire: U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson arrived in Kinshasa with orders to negotiate a peace between the government and rebel leader Laurent Kabila and at the same time help to extricate some 100,000 Rwandan refugees from the path of the rebellion. After months of resisting U.N. air evacuation of refugees on the grounds that it would disrupt troop movements, rebel leader Laurent Kabila made an abrupt turnaround Sunday and gave the U.N. just sixty days, starting May 1, to track down and evacuate every last refugee. After Sunday's maiden voyage carried just 40 refugees from Kisangani to their destination in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, Richardson's first priority will be to coax some cooperation out of Kabila -- and perhaps an extension. "This will be an important test of his diplomatic skills," says TIME's Douglas Waller, "because it's a much more complicated situation than the hostage negotiations Richardson has pulled off in the past. Kabila has proved himself quite obstreperous." More difficult, Waller notes, will be bringing Kabila and president Mobutu, with whom he will meet Tuesday, to a negotiated peace. "Kabila has nothing to gain from peace," says Waller, "and everything to lose. Only the jungle can keep him from Kinshasa."