UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
DRC: Rebels formally announce new movement, leadership
NAIROBI, 17 August 1998 (IRIN) - Leaders of the ongoing rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo have formally announced details of their movement and its principal members. President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who briefly returned to Kinshasa from Lubumbashi at the weekend, is reported to have gone to Zimbabwe today.
The Rwanda News Agency, reporting the rebels' announcement, said the movement would be known as the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), whose chairman was Ernest Wamba Dia Wamba (an academic and member of the Bakongo people from the Matadi area), deputy chairman Moise Nyarugabo (a Munyamulenge, formerly in the DRC government) and executive secretary Jacques Deplace. The RDC also has an executive council headed by a coordinator and comprised of four civilians and four military commanders. As yet the latter have not been named, but the coordinator is Professor Lunda Bururu (a lawyer from Katanga) and the civilian members are Kalala Shambuye (ex-ADFL member from Kasai), Tambwe Alexis Mwamba (a former minister under Mobutu), Dr Bizima Karaha (a Munyamulenge and Kabila's foreign minister until recently) and Mbusa Nyamwisi (from North Kivu and an ex Mayi-Mayi leader).
The movement also announced seven departments and their heads; Territorial administration: Joseph Mudumbi; Mobilisation: Kalala Shambuye; External relations: Bizima Karaha; International administration: Dr Mrs Kitembo; Finance: Emmanuel Kamanzi; Justice: Maitre Emungu; Communications: Professor Etienne Ndangura.
Bisimwa Ganiwa, deputy secretary-general of the opposition party Forces du Futur, which supports the rebellion, told IRIN the new set-up was "temporary" until Kinshasa was taken. Once the rebels were installed in the capital, the roles would be redistributed and a new government announced. "By the end of the week, everything will be sorted out," he said. He claimed rebel forces were 150 km from Kinshasa. Members of the Congolese armed forces there were persuading their families to leave, he added. According to Ganiwa, Forces du Futur president Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, formerly named as coordinator of the rebellion, had been offered the post of vice-president in the new coalition.
A Congolese analyst told IRIN the rebellion had changed its strategy. Instead of having a single leader, it had decided on a joint leadership to encompass as many sections of Congolese society as possible, he said. He pointed out the leading members represented well-known politicians and representatives of DRC society from various provinces. The aim of the rebellion, he added, was first to take Kinshasa and then negotiate some sort of power-sharing, including the position of veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi who has not made any public pronouncement since the conflict broke out on 2 August.
RNA said a rebel commander, Sylvain Mbuki, told a rally in Bukavu on Saturday the rebellion had made important gains on all fronts. Matadi, Walikale and Baraka were under rebel control, he said. Another commander, Jean-Pierre Ondekane, said today Lubutu, southeast of Kisangani, had also fallen to the rebels, as had Fizi "which means we are approaching Katanga". He predicted Kinshasa would fall "in the next week or two".
President Kabila, who arrived back in Kinshasa from Lubumbashi yesterday, declared the battle against the rebels was entering its final phase, news reports said. "The next 24 hours are decisive," he said, after briefly visiting Luanda for talks with the Angolan and Namibian presidents. Today, he left for Zimbabwe for talks with Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia on the crisis, Reuters reported. On Friday, Kabila named his son Major Joseph Kabila to head the country's armed forces, after sacking Major Celestin Kifwa.
Foreign nationals continued to evacuate Kinshasa and diplomatic sources told IRIN the Burundian community, which had been holed up in the Burundi ambassador's residence since the start of the conflict, managed to return to Bujumbura by plane over the weekend. People who left Kinshasa spoke of panic in the city, saying young men recruited into the army by Kabila's administration were "spreading fear" and the army itself appeared "disjointed". Sources in the capital told IRIN "nervous soldiers" were patrolling Kinshasa's streets and some government members were preparing to flee.
The city was again reported without electricity today, after suffering a similar fate on Thursday in the wake of the rebels' capture of the western Inga power plant.
Nairobi, 17 August 1998, 14:45 gmt
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From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: DRC: Rebels formally announce new movement, leadership e: bulk
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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