UVIRA, Zaire — Rebels advanced Thursday toward Kisangani, Zaire's third-largest city, gaining ground in their battle to oust President Mobutu Sese Seko.
But while rebel leader Laurent Desire Kabila said his forces could take Kisangani quickly, he said he would prefer to negotiate for Mobutu's resignation.
Kabila had earlier given Prime Minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo's government until Feb. 21 to get rid of Mobutu. He said his forces would step up their attacks if Mobutu did not step down. He also threatened to attack the largest remaining refugee camp in eastern Zaire, saying it may be necessary to drive out Rwandan Hutus allied with the government.
Kabila said the rebels have captured Faradje, another town in northeastern Zaire.
The rebels' reports could not be independently verified.
Zaire's rebel uprising began late last year when ethnic Tutsis who had lived in eastern Zaire for decades were threatened with expulsion.