Minister pleads for Kolelas' return home

  Brazzaville- Congo (PANA) -- A cabinet minister in Congo has publicly pleaded for the return of ex-Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas "in a concerted framework" of a comprehensive resolution of the politico-military crisis in the Pool district.
In an interview published in the Congolese Catholic weekly magazine "La Semaine Africaine", Construction and Housing Minister Claude Alphonse N'Silou pressed for a comprehensive approach to the Pool crisis involving all the natives of this troubled district, including Kolelas who is currently in exile.
   N'Silou criticised the government's "selective approach" that only involves the National Resistance Council (CNR), former armed rebellion led by Pastor Frederic Bitsangou alias Jean Ntumi, arguing that such an approach had no chance to succeed.
   "All the sons and daughters of the Pool district including Bernard Kolelas must be involved in the quest for an inclusive and lasting solution to the problem.
In other words, the resolution of the crisis requires a comprehensive approach including Bernard Kolelas," said N'Silou, also chairman of the Citizenship Movement (CR), a party of the presidential bloc.
   For N'Silou, who affirmed conducting a mediation between President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Kolelas, the Congolese government is no longer opposed to a return of the former Prime Minister of the deposed regime of President Pascal Lissouba, also in exile since his military rout against Sassou Nguesso's supporters in October 1997.
   "I have raised the issue with President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who told me to wait," the magazine quoted him Saturday.
   Septuagenarian Kolelas led the opposition coalition along with Sassou Nguesso under the regime of President Pascal Lissouba from 1992 to June 1997.
But the alliance collapsed after Kolelas' "Ninja" militiamen chose, at the behest of their leader, to side with the "Cocoye and Zulu" fighters of Lissouba against the supporters of Denis Sassou Nguesso, then chairman of the radical opposition United Democratic Forces (FDU).
   Sassou Nguesso, who came victorious of this civil war on 15 October 1997, has always objected to the return of his former two rivals, all of whom have been sentenced to death in absentia by the Congolese judiciary on charges of economic crimes and crimes against humanity.
   In spite of this condemnation, Kolelas has several times attempted to sneak into Brazzaville under false identities, in vain.
He has also failed in his attempts to squeeze into Kinshasa, capital of DR Congo, whose authorities share good relations with Brazzaville.
   Leader of the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI), Kolelas came second in the first round of the first democratic elections held by Sassou Nguesso in 1992.
Pascal Lissouba won the elections thanks to the transfer of votes by Sassou Nguesso, who ended third in the first round.

16 february 2004 13:27:00




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