Great Lakes: IRIN Update 177, 5/20/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 177, 5/20/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No.177 on the Great Lakes (20 May 1997)

* Laurent-Desire Kabila, self-proclaimed President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, was expected to announce his new cabinet today. He spent all day yesterday in closed session with his aides at his headquarters in Lubumbashi. Officials in his Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) said he would not be arriving in Kinshasa today because of security fears. Earlier, South African President Nelson Mandela and ADFL officials had indicated that Kabila would be arriving in Kinshasa today.

* CNN showed pictures today of captured soldiers from Zaire's defeated army being held by ADFL forces at a garrison in Kinshasa. The film showed an ADFL soldier pointing a gun barrel at the head of one of the captives, and others beating the captives with sticks. CNN said ADFL troops were "teasing, beating and sometimes executing" former government soldiers.

* ADFL planning minister, Babi Mbayi, addressed businessmen in Kinshasa yesterday, telling them the new regime favoured competition but would be tough on illegal practices. He said every investment must be accompanied by an employment plan. New banknotes were being prepared to replace the current New Zaire. * Ousted president Mobutu is too sick to receive visitors, according to sources quoted today by AFP in the Togolese capital Lome, where Mobutu has been since Sunday. The sources said he would like to "stay for several days to get better." Mobutu and close family are staying at the Togolese presidential palace while 53 members of his entourage are in a luxury hotel in Lome.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted an ADFL spokesman in Paris threatening to "plant bombs" if Mobutu is given exile in France. Sources in the Congolese capital Brazzaville said an Air Afrique plane left Brazzaville for Lome yesterday carrying 30 members of Mobutu's family and 20 security officials.

* The flag of the DRC has been hoisted over the former Zairean embassy in Paris, AFP reports today, and diplomats are answering the phone in the name of DRC. Staff say they have not been paid for five years and are deeply in debt. In Rome, AFP reports that peaceful protesters occupied the Zairean embassy calling for it to be renamed.

* Zambia, Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda joined the growing number of African countries giving official recognition to the new DRC regime. In a message addressed yesterday to "Your Excellency and Dear Brother," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told Kabila he had defeated "the forces of backwardness." A congratulatory statement from the Rwandan government said the ADFL victory ushered in "a new era... for the entire sub-region."

* Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, speaking in New York, said Kabila needed time to consolidate before being pushed into holding elections. "Let's have some humility, leave this country alone," Nyerere urged the international community. He accused the Western press of trying to "demonise" Kabila over allegations of massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees. "He (Kabila) must not be accused for the crimes of others," Nyerere said.

* South African President Nelson Mandela, on a state visit to Zimbabwe yesterday, said Kabila was doing an "excellent" job of taking control and that everything was going "according to plan", the South African news agency SAPA reported.

* The Panafrican News Agency PANA reported that a special adviser to Congolese President Pascal Lissouba on Sunday welcomed the downfall of Mobutu, whom he accused of using "dictatorial methods" against his people. The Congolese government has not recognised the ADFL regime and three ADFL infiltrators are reported to have been held in detention in Brazzaville for about a month. * Germany said on Monday it was ready to co-operate with Kabila's new government. Britain said it hoped for "discipline and stability" in the days ahead.

* The US State Department said it would be working with Kabila and his forces and recognised DRC as the new name for Zaire. However, the Mobutu government will still hold a UN seat until the UN credentials committee decides otherwise.

* AFP reported yesterday the arrival by canoe of 150 Rwandan Hutu refugees, including former soldiers, in the Congolese capital Brazzaville on Sunday. The report said some were amputees, others had unhealed wounds to the head and limbs. In Kinshasa, the agency reported that ADFL troops were interrogating 15 Rwandan Hutu men found in a hospital.

* AFP yesterday quoted "several sources" in Goma, eastern Zaire, as saying members of the former Rwandan army and Interahamwe militia had been fighting ADFL forces near Katale, 40 kms north of Goma. The report said three ADFL soldiers and four civilians were killed in clashes. AFP did not elaborate on its sources. It cites witnesses who said the Rwandans were well armed and wearing uniforms of the defeated Zairean army.

* The last remaining Rwandan Hutu refugees at Biaro camp are being evacuated to the transit camp at Kisangani, eastern Zaire, today. The total number repatriated by UNHCR to Rwanda reached 33,533 yesterday. A train brought 360 refugees to Kisangani from Km 82. Aid agencies are still waiting to access areas south of Biaro.

* The Red Cross in Geneva said yesterday 250 babies a week are being born in Lugufu refugee camp in Tanzania, housing 45,000 Zaireans.

* Uganda's 'New Vision' on Monday quoted army sources saying rebel troops captured in clashes with the Ugandan army would not benefit from a presidential amnesty and would be prosecuted.

Nairobi, 20 May 1997, 14:30 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: Tue, 20 May 1997 17:35:38 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 177 for 20 May 1997 97.5.20 Message-ID: <>

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

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