Congo opposition parties to boycott unity event

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The leaders of three opposition parties in Congo say they will boycott upcoming talks this week that are aimed at national reconciliation.

The decision is a blow to unity efforts by Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who has been urging national reconciliation at a time when he faces a rebellion in the country’s east.

Among those skipping the talks are supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi, who finished second in the disputed 2011 presidential election. Opposition groups say they want a neutral facilitator in place before they can take part in the talks.

Kabila has promised reforms to help unify Congo, a nation the size of Western Europe that is rich in mineral wealth but plagued by violence.

Tensions still linger from the 2011 vote that the European Union said was fraught with irregularities and fraud.

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