DRC: Bunia in rebel hands, Uvira quiet 1998.8.13

DRC: Bunia in rebel hands, Uvira quiet 1998.8.13

DRC: Bunia in rebel hands, Uvira quiet

NAIROBI, 13 August 1998 (IRIN) - The northeast town of Bunia, on the Ugandan border, reportedly fell to the rebels yesterday. Sources in touch with Bunia told IRIN the town was taken with the help of two tanks. The takeover occurred despite the delivery of two planeloads of government troops, ammunition, money and uniforms earlier in the day, the sources said. First announcements on Bunia radio, now pro-rebellion, said the forces in control were Congolese, not Rwandan. Map:

Sources in Uvira meanwhile described the town as calm, with markets and shops operating as normal. There has been no fighting there since Sunday, when a counter-attack by pro-government troops arriving from Kalemie by boat, was allegedly repelled. A source who spent the day in Uvira yesterday told IRIN an alliance had become apparent between Burundian rebels, Mayi-Mayi militia and pro-government troops. Heavy rebel reinforcements arrived in Uvira yesterday. Unlike in Bukavu and Goma, no civilian or military leaders have yet emerged to lead the rebellion in Uvira. "People don't know what to expect, it's a military thing", the source said. Sources in touch with Kindu told IRIN the town has not been taken by rebel forces.

The border post between Rwanda and Kamanyola, south of Bukavu, was reportedly open yesterday, as was the border between Goma and Gisenyi. However according to the Rwanda News Agency, the crossing between Bukavu and the Rwandan town of Cyangugu remains closed.

In a case of "mistaken identity", rebel soldiers killed eight of their own near Goma airport last night. AFP quoted rebel commander Sylvain Mbuki who said airport guards had not been told of the arrival of a group of rebel soldiers and opened fire, believing they were under attack.

In a statement broadcast by DRC television, the Kinshasa government annulled the passports of prominent officials who have gone over to the rebellion and ordered international warrants for their arrests. They include former foreign minister Bizima Karaha and coordinator of the rebellion Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma who are accused of "high treason". Warrants have also been issued for former presidential affairs adviser Deogratias Bugera, former head of the ill-gotten goods office Moise Nyarugabo, and Alexis Tambwe Mwamba, a former minister under Mobutu Sese Seko.

As concern mounted over the fate of Tutsis in Kinshasa, the Brussels-based Comite pour le respect des droits de l'homme et la democratie au Rwanda (CRDDR) issued an urgent appeal to the DRC government and the international community to ensure the protection of human rights. In a statement, received by IRIN, the CRDDR quoted Banyamulenge sources who claimed there had been "arbitrary executions" of Banyamulenge soldiers in Kinshasa. The CRDDR warned the DRC authorities may be "turning a blind eye" to the witchhunt against Tutsis "which is progressively taking hold in the capital". A diplomatic initiative, involving western and African missions in Kinshasa, has called on the DRC government to ensure the protection of all Congolese citizens.

The rebellion is also reported to be affecting food prices. Humanitarian sources told IRIN the prices of goods in Kinshasa's markets have "sky-rocketed". They said it was partly due to speculation, but Kinshasa residents also fear shortages if rebels take the main river ports. Supplies may also be affected by the rebel takeover of the Kivus, a main supplier of foodstuffs to the capital. Rebel commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane told journalists in Goma that since the capture of the western oil town of Muanda, Kinshasa had been deprived of fuel sources. The Belgian daily 'Le Soir' commented that the rebels are relying on "gradually suffocating" Kinshasa, aimed at triggering a popular revolt against President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Nairobi, 13 August 1998, 14:55 gmt


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From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: DRC: Bunia in rebel hands, Uvira quiet 1998.8.13

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

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