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Zairian Opposition Leader Buries Hatchet With Mobutu

November 22, 1996

ROQUEBRUNE-CAP-MARTIN, France (AP) _ Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko’s political arch-enemy says the two have reconciled to try to bring peace to ravaged eastern Zaire.

Etienne Tshisekedi met Thursday with Mobutu for the first time since the Zairian leader ousted him as prime minister four years ago.

``We have decided to join our two parties to cope with the current events,″ Tshisekedi said after the 45-minute meeting at Mobutu’s villa on the French Riviera. Fighting between Tutsi-led rebels and Zairian troops has killed thousands of people and scattered a million refugees.

``Our people have awaited the national reconciliation that just took place today ... for a very long time,″ he said.

Tshisekedi said the two will organize democratic elections after peace is established.

Exiled from the capital Kinshasa by Mobutu in the 1980s, Tshisekedi was elected prime minister by the transitional National Conference in August 1992. But Mobutu refused to confirm him to office.

Mobutu is convalescing at his chateau here after prostate cancer surgery in Switzerland in August.

Although Tshisekedi has not announced his candidacy, he is expected to run for president if elections are held as scheduled in May. Prime Minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo said Thursday that they would be held in May.

Mobutu, who has canceled elections twice since promising a transition to democracy in 1990, was _ before his illness _ also expected to run.

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