UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chadian involvement detailed
NAIROBI, 24 September (IRIN) - More details have emerged about the reported involvement of Chad in the DRC conflict. Begoto Oulator, editor-in-chief of the weekly 'N'Djamena Hebdo', told IRIN West Africa that 24 DRC cargo planes had arrived at the airport in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena on 18 September.
Last week, the bi-weekly Chadian newspaper 'L'Observateur' reported that about 1,000 Chadian soldiers had been sent to the DRC to support President Laurent-Desire Kabila.
A journalist with 'L'Observateur', Sie Kongo, told IRIN West Africa yesterday (Wednesday) that the reported deployment of the Chadian troops was financed by Libya to protect its strong economic interests in the DRC. This policy was part of a new rapprochement between Chad and Libya, he added. Kabila also flew to Libya last weekend as part of moves to consolidate his regional support.
Oulator said the Chadian government had not yet reacted to the reports on its alleged military assistance.
Chadian President Idriss Deby is one of several African leaders who were in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, on Thursday to take part in talks on the DRC crisis, hosted by Gabonese President Omar Bongo and scheduled to start this afternoon, news agencies reported.
Other heads of state that had arrived are Kabila, President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic, President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, as well as the Cameroonian Prime Minister, Peter Musonge Mafany.
The Namibian head of state was also expected in Libreville today, while an Angolan delegation had arrived but was not headed by Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, RFI reported.
Bongo first raised the idea of the central African summit on 12 September during a one-day visit to Libreville by Kabila. At that time, Bongo condemned the "occupation" of the DRC by "foreign troops backing the rebels."
Representatives of the DRC rebels and of the two regional countries alleged to be backing them, Rwanda and Uganda, were not invited to the Gabon talks, RFI reported. The Bongo-organized mini-summit on the DRC is the seventh formal regional peace meeting organized since the start of the rebellion on 2 August.
Meanwhile, Kabila's southern African allies are defending in front of the international community their countries' military intervention in the DRC. In his address to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, said on Tuesday that Zimbabwe had sent troops to the DRC upon the request of Kabila and under the framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), at a time when "the fall of Kinshasa was imminent."
Zimbabwe intervened to protect the DRC's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" in the face of the "siege from rebels supported by foreign troops," Mudenge said.
The Namibian Foreign Minister, Theo-Ben Gurirab, said in his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday that "invading armies" and the actions of "misguided men driven by a blind ambition and appetite for needless confrontation" had led Namibia to send troops to the DRC to support Kabila's "legitimate government." In their addresses, neither Mudenge nor Gurirab specified the foreign troops alleged to be backing the rebels.
Meanwhile, Burundian President Pierre Buyoya told the General Assembly on Tuesday that Burundi is not involved in the DRC conflict. In his address, he called on the UN and OAU to better coordinate their peace efforts in favour of the DRC, particularly in view of what he called the "limits" of "sub-regional organisations".
Also at UN headquarters, deputy UN emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths yesterday briefed the press corps on his recent mission to the DRC and neighbouring countries. In a press statement received by IRIN today, Griffiths said he had raised with government and rebel representatives in the DRC their obligation to protect minorities and the need to avoid "inflammatory statements which may encourage ethnic violence." Griffiths said that the rebels had reported establishing a "commission of inquiry" to investigate alleged massacres of civilians in the rebel-held Kasika area of South Kivu last month.
Griffiths added that the humanitarian situation in Kinshasa was improving, with health, nutrition and water needs being addressed by agencies through a government-coordinated crisis committee. However, the situation in rebel-held Kisangani, Province Orientale, remained of great concern, he said.
On the ground in the DRC, humanitarian sources have substantiated media reports of an attack by Mayi-Mayi warriors and Hutu Interahamwe militia in Goma yesterday. The sources said that fighting was heard in the western part of the city between five a.m. and seven a.m. yesterday.
Quoting rebel officials, news organisations reported that about 50 Mayi-Mayi warriors and Interahamwe militia were killed by rebel forces when they attacked the Ndosho military camp about four km from Goma. Also killed were five women and one child, the rebels added. This was the second attack on Goma by the Mayi-Mayi/Interahamwe coalition in 10 days.
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Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 15:30:57 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: DRC: Chad said to be supporting Kabila 1998.9.24 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980924152935.3476Kemail@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, firstname.lastname@example.org