Zaire: IRIN Update 10 on Eastern Zaire, 11/6/96

Zaire: IRIN Update 10 on Eastern Zaire, 11/6/96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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

IRIN Emergency Update No. 10 on Eastern Zaire (6 November 1996)

European Union Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Aldo Ajello, said today that three regional foreign ministers and a representative from the Organisation of African Unity will go to Kinshasa "as soon as possible" to present the Zairean government with the decisions of yesterday's regional summit. He said they would leave tomorrow (Thursday) at the latest. Diplomatic efforts concentrate on securing Zaire's agreement to the resolutions, which include calls for neutral military intervention, the establishment of humanitarian corridors and temporary sanctuaries, and an immediate ceasefire. Neither the Zairean government or the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADFL) were present at the heads of state meeting. The ADFL declared a unilateral three week ceasefire on Monday.

The regional ministers will be trying to get Zaire to agree on a ceasefire and the need for international intervention. On Tuesday evening, Zaire's Information Minister and government spokesman, Boguo Makeli, denied there was rebellion on Zaire territory, saying that Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were the aggressors. The Zairean government has acknowledged that it no longer controls Bukavu and Goma, but has not acknowledged the civil war. It has said it will not attend any regional meetings about the eastern Zaire crisis until the "aggressors" (referring to the alleged presence of Rwandan troops) are off Zairean territory.

According to a BBC report, a government spokesman in Kinshasa today said that Zaire would not take a position on military intervention until it was fully aware of the proposals made by the Nairobi summit. The spokesman said that Hutu refugees should return to their country of origin and territory should be restored to Zaire (implying foreign rather than domestic involvement). On the humanitarian aspect, the spokesman said Zaire was no longer prepared to accept assistance for the refugees on its own side of the border, and that aid should now be provided within Rwanda and Burundi and that refugees could pass through the proposed corridors out of Zaire.

Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda said today (Wednesday) that it was not necessary to wait for the approval of Zaire to go ahead with a proposed international force. He said it was up to the United Nations to call on Zaire to abide by the resolutions of yesterday's regional heads of states summit, and said the United Nations had the right to send in a force "with or without the agreement of the country concerned". Rwanda insists on regarding the eastern Zairean conflict as an "internal Zairean crisis". In an interview on the BBC, Claude Dusaidi, advisor to the Rwandan government, welcomed the Nairobi proposals, particularly the decision to assist separation of intimidators from the bona fide refugees. On the issue of corridors, he acknowledged the need to use them to initially feed the refugees, but said the aim should be to repatriate as soon as possible. He said an intervention force must be neutral.

Both Rwanda and Zaire seem to have accepted - to some extent - the idea of humanitarian corridors.

South African deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said today that the South African government has temporarily suspended the sale of arms to Rwanda. President Mandela was quoted yesterday - after a personal appeal from Kenyan President Moi to suspend an 18 million arms deal - that he would suspend arms sales to Rwanda if requested by regional leaders.

International responses to the regional summit have focused on the call for military intervention. US Special Envoy Howard Wolpe called the notion of an international presence "helpful", but said the type of force envisaged needed to be discussed. British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind welcomed the idea of a multinational force and said it would be discussed at a summit on Friday with France. European Union officials also met on Tuesday in Brussels for talks on possible intervention in Eastern Zaire, and, according to Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Aldo Ajello, will meet on Thursday (tomorrow) to "harmonise the position". He said European reaction had been very fast. .Germany has raised the possibility of deploying UN military observers, particularly in the Zaire-Rwanda border. President Nelson Mandela has pledged South African support for a peacekeeping force, saying he would respond very positively to any request from the United Nations. The Johannesburg Star reports that South Africa has two fully-trained batallions ready to join any multinational peacekeeping force organised by the UN or the OAU. This is the first time South Africa has expressed a willingness to send troops on peace keeping missions. Togo has proposed a four-point ceasefire plan, saying it would prevent a "second genocide"; it is essentially the same as the decisions taken by the regional summit, incorporating a ceasefire, an neutral intervention force, territorial integrity and further talks.

French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said that a multinational force could be deployed "in a very short time" - France has led calls for military intervention since the weekend, along with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata. Spain and France have said they are prepared to participate in a force for Zair. President Jacques Chirac - whose government is now host to the ailing Zairean president - underlined French support for Mobutu by saying the president was "the man best placed to represent Zaire and find a solution to this problem". He says the force proposed by France and Spain needs the approval of the UN Security Council, would include US, European and African troops and could later be replaced by an African force with US and European backing. French support for Mobutu will be an issue for other actors in the conflict - particularly the rebels.

Other reactions include plans for a special session of the conflict prevention team in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) next week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (the Central Organ of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution is composed of Cameroon, Algeria, Comoros, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Tanzania, Togo, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The OAU says the meeting will be attended by the countries of the Great Lakes region, and other neighbours. Former French cooperation minister Bernard Debre proposed in an interview in a French newspaper the creation of a Hutu state, comprising "a small part of Rwanda, Burundi, and also part of Kivu". Previously, proponents of creating separate ethnic states included President Moi of Kenya. An exclusively ethnic analysis of the regional conflict, including the 1994 genocide, is generally rejected by political players in the arena, who point to the fact that political groups and geographical areas are not ethnically "pure" (for example, rebel spokesman for the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), Laurent-Desire Kabila is perceived as one of those leading the "Tutsi revolt", but is from the mineral-rich Shaba region in southern Zaire).

Action by Churches Together (ACT) has issued an appeal for the Eastern Zaire emergency for $4,757,947 to stockpile and deliver emergency relief supplies in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, from 1 November 1996 to 31 December 1997.

Eight hundred Zairean soldiers who fled to Uganda early this week returned home, according to Ugandan security sources. They reportedly commandeered canoes on Lake Edward to get back into Zaire. There is a slow trickle of refugees into Uganda, mostly women and children; UNHCR put the number at around 9,500 and say the rate of arrival has decreased this week.

An unpublished UN report on regional arms supply accusing Zaire of playing "a central role" in helping Rwandan and Burundi Hutu rebels to rearm on its territory, has been leaked to the press. According to press reports, Zaire was accused of playing a major role in "huge webs" of arms trafficking - "Zaire, or elements within Zaire, appear to continue to play a central role as a conduit for arms supplies to and military training of Rwandan and Burundese insurgents on its soil", the report says. The report, likely to be that of the UN Commission of Inquiry formed in 1995, is also quoted as saying that Hutu militia in refugee camps of Zaire, Tanzania and (previously) Burundi were funding arms purchases from "the sale of relief goods donated by international humanitarian organisations". The Zairean government denied these allegations on Tuesday night. After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, international human rights organisations drew attention to arms supplies to fugitive Hutu extremist groups in neighbouring countries. Paradoxically, at the time of declaring a ceasefire, the rebel groups - reportedly well armed - had managed to seize up to 300 kilometres of border territory in two weeks and resistance from ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia appears to have been minimal. [ENDS]

[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.]


Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 18:44:06 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 10 on Eastern Zaire for 6 November 1996 96.11.6 Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific