UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
DRC: Rebels control main Kivu towns, vow to topple Kabila
NAIROBI, 5 August 1998 (IRIN) - As fighting subsided in the main Kivu towns of Goma and Bukavu today, rebel soldiers declared they were in control of the area and regional officials suggested the broader aim was to topple President Laurent-Desire Kabila. An announcement over Goma radio today again accused Kabila of dictatorship and nepotism, and Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha said he was joining the rebellion.
The mayor of Bukavu Khaddee Mutware confirmed to IRIN today that the town had been calm since yesterday afternoon and life was returning to normal. Residents of Bukavu also told IRIN normality was slowly resuming. There had been bodies in the streets, but these had apparently been removed. The sources added there was a strong military presence, including Rwandan troops, but they were disciplined and it was clear the rebel forces were in control.
Mutware said Congolese troops in the Kivus were united against the Kabila regime, adding that a smaller splinter group which refused to join them had been defeated. Reports of Rwandan troops entering DRC were a "press fabrication", he added. As of yet, there was no structure in place in the Kivus and the region was "no longer under Kinshasa's control". Asked if the rebellion planned to oust Kabila, he replied "probably".
Kabila's foreign minister, Bizima Karaha, a Munyamulenge, who was reported to have fled to South Africa, said he had joined the rebel side. He told Reuters from Goma the rebellion was a "countrywide revolution to topple Kabila". "It is spreading like fire," he said. "Towns are falling to our forces without resistance because people are disillusioned and angry with Kabila." A new political structure would be announced after consultations between rebel leaders in Goma. A statement is due to be broadcast over Bukavu radio around 14:00 local time today.
Meanwhile, the Rwanda News Agency today said the rebellion had nominated its leader, opposition politician Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, who was recently freed after being imprisoned by the Kabila government. In an interview with Goma radio, monitored by RNA, Ngoma denied the rebellion was a "Banyamulenge or Rwandan struggle". "It is a struggle of the Congolese people ... who are fighting for their rights," he stressed. The movement was comprised of all ethnic groups and regions, he said, adding that the fight would continue until Kabila was removed from power.
Reports received by IRIN today indicated the rebellion was spreading, with renewed clashes in DRC's third biggest town of Kisangani and continued fighting in the south Kivu town of Uvira.
The rebels' version of events differed to the government's with Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo describing the conflict as a "Rwandan invasion", and denying there was a rebellion by army dissidents. He told BBC radio Rwanda had "sent troops into Kivu", and Kigali would "regret it". Government spokesman Didier Mumengi warned the DRC was planning a "vigorous riposte". He also said there was fighting in the southwest town of Kitona after "400 Rwandan troops" diverted a plane there from Goma yesterday. Kitona houses a military base which now serves as a re-education centre for ex-FAZ soldiers. The Congolese authorities added that Kinshasa was firmly under government control.
Zambia closed its border with DRC after fighting broke out between Congolese and Banyamulenge forces near the Mokambo border point yesterday, the South African news agency reported. At least 20 Banyamulenge soldiers are reported to have fled into Zambia where they are being debriefed by the authorities. DRC's borders with Burundi and Rwanda are already closed.
Regional heads of state are due to hold a summit meeting in Victoria Falls on Friday to discuss the situation in DRC. Leaders from DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania are expected to attend under the chairmanship of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
Nairobi, 5 August 1998, 12:30 gmt
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Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 15:26:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: DRC: Rebels control main Kivu towns, vow to topple Kabila 1998.8.5 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980805152515.8143Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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