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Congolese Rebels Refuse Archbishop

February 12, 2000

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ Raising tensions with the Roman Catholic church, rebels in eastern Congo accused Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko of collaborating with Congo’s president and refused to let him into the region they control on Saturday.

Airport authorities in the eastern rebel stronghold of Goma blocked Kataliko from disembarking from an aircraft and returning to his parish in Bukavu, where he is based, rebel spokesman Kin-Kiey Mulumba said.

Kataliko has been an outspoken critic of the rebels and their Rwandan allies, often accusing them of human rights violations.

``He is not persona non grata. But he is not welcome in Bukavu until tensions there calm. He will be allowed back after some time,″ Mulumba said on the telephone from Goma, 60 miles north of Bukavu.

Kataliko was traveling from the capital, Kinshasa. He was forced to fly on to his native Bunia, in northern Congo, which is controlled by a different rebel faction.

The rebels had announced earlier in the week that they were planning to ban the archbishop. On Friday, the Catholic church in Kinshasa insisted that rebels had no right to do so. Church officials called his silencing an act of ``war against freedom of expression, which conceals badly a new dictatorship under the cover of the rebellion.″

Despite a cease-fire six months ago between President Laurent Kabila and his backers and the rebels and their backers, fighting in Congo has persisted and the rebels control parts of the country.

The rebels say Kataliko was behind a protest in Bukavu last week, when residents closed shops and schools to protest high taxes, insecurity and lack of basic freedoms they blamed on the new rebel authorities.

In particular, the rebels accuse Kataliko of inciting hatred against minority Tutsis from Congo and Rwanda. Tutsis make up a core of the rebellion and have been repeatedly attacked by other tribes, often with weapons and ammunition supplied by Kabila’s army.

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