Great Lakes: IRIN Update 175, 5/19/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 175, 5/19/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.175 on the Great Lakes (19 May 1997)

* Ousted Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko fled his jungle palace at Gbadolite on Sunday and flew to the Togolese capital Lome. But Togolese television announced that Mobutu left just hours afterwards "for a new destination, probably Morocco." The station said the cargo plane carrying Mobutu and his family had been hit by shots fired by troops of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) trying to seize Gbadolite airport. AFP quoted Moroccan government sources who denied that Mobutu was in the Moroccan capital Rabat, but said that Morocco was prepared to provide him with a temporary welcome "if necessary."

* AFP reports today that Mobutu's former foreign minister, Kamanda wa Kamanda, his former interior minister, Ilunga Shamanga, and a former top adviser, Honore N'Gbanda, were seen at a hotel in the Togolese capital Lome. The Togolese state press service confirmed that Kamanda arrived on Friday evening from Gabon and met privately with Togolese president Gnassingbe Eyadema. Earlier reports said Kamanda had been killed in Kinshasa.

* A group of 110 members of Mobutu's family tried to fly to Gabon early on Sunday morning but their plane was refused landing permission and was turned back to Brazzaville in Congo. Sources told AFP that Cameroon may agree to take the family members. Mobutu's former prime minister General Likulia Bolongo arrived by speed boat in Brazzaville early on Saturday. * ADFL troops marched unopposed into Kinshasa on Saturday, greeted by cheering crowds. By midday they controlled the parliament buildings and the radio and television station. An ADFL radio broadcast called on looters to stop their actions. However, sporadic gunfire was reported overnight on Saturday as waves of looting continued in the capital's wealthier suburbs. The BBC said the ADFL told residents to report attacks to special mobile units.

* Mobutu's luxury residences in the capital were early targets of the looters. The Palais de Marbre and villa at Camp Tshatshi were stripped within hours of the arrival of ADFL forces on Saturday. At the house of Mobutu's son, Kongolo, everything from crystal chandeliers to portraits of Mobutu to deckchairs from the swimming pool was taken, AFP reported. Soldiers of the presidential guard were the first to loot houses of government ministers who fled the capital as the ADFL advanced. Civilians joined in the looting later. Residents looted the barracks near the city's central market on Sunday and blew up a civil guards' arms store.

* The Zairean Red Cross said on Sunday at least 200 people had been killed since ADFL troops entered Kinshasa. It said most of those killed were soldiers, and a further 52 civilians were wounded. Most of the dead were found around Ndjili international airport and in a few districts where the ADFL met resistance.

* Around 1,000 members of the elite Special Presidential Division (DSP) handed in their weapons to ADFL forces at Kinshasa's central garrison, Camp Tshatshi, on Sunday. The ADFL took over the camp early in the morning. A radio broadcast late on Saturday warned Mobutu's troops to lay down their arms.

* A 30-strong delegation of ADFL officials left Lubumbashi for the capital Kinshasa on Sunday to start the process of setting up a transitional government.

* South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki held talks with self-proclaimed president Laurent-Desire Kabila in Lubumbashi on Sunday afternoon, after which Mbeki said South Africa recognised Kabila as head of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire. Mbeki told reporters he was convinced that the new government would be "broad-based" and would "provide the necessary stability to address the fundamental challenges of change." However, South African newspaper reports on Sunday indicated that President Nelson Mandela's government was not happy with the way in which Kabila seized power. The 'Sunday Independent' quoted a senior official as saying it had "all the elements of a coup d'etat, although it was relatively peaceful".

* UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun, earlier held what he called "very encouraging" talks with Kabila on the future of governance and democracy. Sahnoun said the welcome of Kabila's troops in Kinshasa indicated that "the people of Zaire are happy."

* The United States welcomed the minimal disorder created by the takeover of power but stopped short of giving full recognition to Kabila's government. White House national security adviser Sandy Berger said on CNN they had urged Kabila to "respect human rights...form a government that is inclusive and ultimately move towards democracy."

* A statement from the French foreign ministry said it would "follow very closely the actions of the new authorities" and base its relations with Kabila's government on that.

* The Swiss government on Saturday froze all assets of Mobutu and his family. Officials said the move followed Mobutu's flight from Zaire.

* A number of countries were quick to recognise the new leadership in the former Zaire. Kenya said on Sunday it acknowledged Kabila's regime. Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Angola, Sudan and Libya all announced official recognition of the new head of state.

Nairobi, 19 May 1997, 09:15 gmt


[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]


Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 12:09:52 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 175 for 17-18 May 1997 97.5.19 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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