DRC: Hate radio re-emerges as rebels push towards Bunia 1998.8.12

DRC: Hate radio re-emerges as rebels push towards Bunia 1998.8.12

DRC: Hate radio re-emerges as rebels push towards Bunia

NAIROBI, 12 August 1998 (IRIN) - As the rebellion appears to be gaining momentum, hate radio broadcasts have re-emerged in the northeast Bunia region, where rebels are said to be pushing towards Bunia town.

Unlike former hate radio stations, these broadcasts are being made over government radio. Radio Television Nationale Congolaise in Bunia on Saturday ordered Congolese people to arm themselves with "a machete, spear, arrow, hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, irons, barbed wire, stones and the like" to "kill the Rwandan Tutsis" in Ituri district. "Wherever you see a Rwandan Tutsi, regard him as your enemy," the broadcast continued. The radio acknowledged Bukavu and other areas of South Kivu were under rebel control, but vowed to defeat them.

In another broadcast on Radio Bunia this morning, a DRC military commander condemned the Ugandans and Rwandans who were trying to "dominate" Congo. The rebels were now poised to "occupy" Bunia, but army reinforcements had arrived, he claimed. "Be ferocious," he told his listeners. "You will detect the enemies and massacre them without mercy."

The Kinshasa authorities continued to maintain they were repulsing the rebels on all fronts, but journalists who were allowed into the eastern town of Goma witnessed it was firmly held by the rebellion and described the situation as calm. A rebel commander, Sylvain Mbuki from Katanga, quoted by the Rwanda News Agency, said there had been very little resistance in the east of the country.

The Belgian daily 'Le Soir' said he stressed the uprising against President Laurent-Desire Kabila was not a Tutsi revolt. "None of us are Rwandan," he pointed out, adding that in Goma "there are very few Banyamulenge". The rebellion, whose name according to Reuters was today given as the Congolese Movement for Democracy, was comprised of 19 battalions amounting to about 15,000 men, Mbuki said. And rebel spokesmen, quoted by Reuters today, claimed their leaders included Emile Ilunga a prominent Katangese politician who favours the secession of his home province.

Another commander in Goma, Major Jean-Pierre Ondekane, told journalists the aim of the rebellion was to overthrow President Laurent-Desire Kabila, and ruled out any negotiations. "We cannot negotiate with a dictator who is worse than Mobutu," AFP quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, an aide to Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma today confirmed the opposition leader was still the coordinator of the rebellion. The aide told IRIN that Ngoma was based in Goma but travelled extensively throughout rebel-occupied territory to "make contacts". The aide added that the rebel movement wanted to dissociate itself from "the numerous Mobutist opportunists travelling to Kampala and Kigali these days to join the rebellion". A regional analyst told IRIN he believed Rwanda "wants to make Ngoma a more reliable puppet than Kabila".

Ngoma's aide further said Beni in the northeast and Boma in the west were in rebel hands, along with Kindu, west of Bukavu. Humanitarian sources in the region told IRIN the rebels had not yet reached Kalima which is close to Kindu. The aide also claimed an uprising "favourable to the rebels" had broken out in Tshikapa, in Kasai Occidental near the Angolan border. Journalists in Goma were told by local residents there was fighting around Sake, north of Goma, formerly a stronghold of the Mayi-Mayi rebels. Local people added that plane rotations between Goma and the Kitona military base in the west were continuing at the rate of "three to four planes per day", AFP reported.

Kabila warned the Congolese they risked "returning to slavery" unless they defended themselves. In a television broadcast, he said the people should first "count on their capacity to defend themselves before counting on the assistance our friends can given us". Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi yesterday condemned "acts of aggression" against the DRC, warning that the conflict could again destabilise the Great Lakes region and urging the international community to take steps to contain the crisis.

Forty ex-FAZ generals have reportedly offered their support in a letter to Kabila. According to PANA news agency, the officers who remained in the country after the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko, pledged their cooperation and commended Kabila's efforts to "remove foreign troops" from the armed forces. The letter was signed by General Amela Bahati, PANA said. Meanwhile, about 60 government soldiers, wounded by the fighting in Kinshasa, have turned up in Congo-Brazzaville, Gabonese radio said. In a report from Brazzaville, it said they entered the country via the Loukami border village after crossing the Congo river with their weapons.

Guillaume Ngafa, chairman of the banned Congolese human rights association ASADHO, accused Kabila, "faced with an external threat", of "playing the racist and ethnic card". Interviewed by Gabonese radio in Switzerland, he concurred with rebel sentiments that Kabila "has behaved like a true despot".

The EU and UN yesterday both expressed concern over the conflict in DRC. In a statement, the EU condemned "acts of violence against civilians", and voiced anxiety over "the possibility of foreign interference in the country's internal affairs". It urged cooperation between the DRC and UN to find a solution. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was disturbed by "reported violations of the DRC's territorial integrity". He also expressed concern over "instances of ethnically-motivated persecution" by parties to the conflict and appealed for upholding the standards and principles of international humanitarian law. Annan said he was concerned by the reported recruitment of child soldiers.

Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke meanwhile denied promoting a "Tutsiland" in eastern DRC. His spokesman Hubert Cooreman said comments he made at a recent news conference were "misinterpreted", according to media reports. Derycke reportedly remarked the international community would find it hard to accept the secession of Kivu, but that the province "could temporarily become a buffer zone, which remains under the sovereignty of Congo, but in fact under the governance of Kigali". Cooreman explained that Derycke's remarks were merely a hypothesis and "politically untenable".

Nairobi, 12 August 1998, 14:50 gmt


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Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 17:57:58 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: DRC: Hate radio re-emerges as rebels push towards Bunia 1998.8.12

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

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