Now, it's Kabila

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and U.S. diplomats in Kinshasa scrambled Friday morning to reach Kabila on his cell phone to plead with him to hold off attacking Kinshasa and agree to a peaceful transition to his new government. Although Kabila is holding so far, U.S. officials have found him difficult to deal with, reports TIME's Douglas Waller. "Kabila's been out in the jungle for 30 years on his own and has survived with no help from the outside. He is deeply distrustful of the French because of their ties to Mobutu. He doesn't view the U.S. as a hostile enemy, but he certainly doesn't see it as an ally either." U.S. officials are pushing for democratic elections in Zaire, worried that Kabila become another Mobutu, never relinquishing power. "Kabila has been a Marxist for a long time," Waller says. "He's had an antipathy toward political parties, so we don't know when or if he will ever take a step toward democracy. We may be replacing one strong-arm man with another." Still, the U.S. has offered Kabila $10 million in assistance to stage elections soon after he takes over Zaire and has assured him that European governments would contribute as well. Kabila may not bite. He has said he plans to lead the nation for up to five years and seems ambivalent to the election process. U.S. officials believe they can encourage him to accept elections. So far at least, he's still taking their calls.