Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part IV, 02/28/97

Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part IV, 02/28/97

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Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part IV: Eastern Zaire Who's Who, 28 Feb 1997

Editors Note: The following document was written as a quick and complete reference source to key political players, thus there may be repetition in some of the biographies.


Ethnic clashes in the Kivu (Zaire) regions, have been a regular occurrence for some generations. During the colonial period boundaries were repeatedly changed, leaving members of several ethnic groups, including Banyarwandans -- Kinyarwandan speakers encompassing Hutus and Tutsis -- divided by artificially created international borders. Over the centuries, the Kivu regions have seen the influx of several groups of Banyarwandans, either seeking political or economic asylum or through deliberate colonial immigration policies related to plantation labour needs. As a direct result of this, some 50% of the North Kivu area had linguistic and cultural ties to Rwanda. Prior to the 1994 Rwandan refugee influx, Banyarwandans were estimated to be as much as 80% of the population in Masisi, numbering between 450,000-600,000 (1). North Kivu was said to have a population of 3.5 million, 50% of whom were Banyarwandan (2). Other tribes, Bakonjo, Banduda, Bahunde (singular: Hunde), Bapere, Bakomo, Babira, Banyanga, Banande, Balendu and Batembo (3), were seen as "original inhabitants", whose principal enemy was the Hutu. Historically, disputes over land tenure and ownership lie at the heartof most ethnic clashes in the area. Colonial powers settled Banyarwandans on vacant lands, which according to local traditions belonged to indigenous customary Hunde chiefs. Following independence, the Hunde chiefs, reasserting their rights, extorted high taxes and fines and sold land deeds at exorbitant prices, which enraged the Banyarwandans. Moreover, because of a highly developed work ethic and financial savvy the Banyarwandans prospered while the original Zairean "inhabitants", the Hunde, stagnated. In 1963, a group of Banyarwandans revolted in what was known as the "Kanyarwandan" movement, demanding an independent Rwandan state in North Kivu. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Hunde also saw their political power being undermined by Banyarwandans who were more frequently chosen for government posts.

The Banyarwandan political influence ended when the Zairean parliament passed decree law No. 81-002 on 29 July 1981, amending law No. 71-020 of 26 March 1971, which had granted nationality on a collective basis to the Banyarwanda. The new law retroactively removed Zairean nationality and hence property rights from many Banyarwandans by granting nationality to only those who could prove that their ancestors had lived in Zaire since 1885. In 1989, the loss of nationality and the resulting need for a new census was then used by Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution (MPR) government to suspend national elections (4). The Banyarwandans hoped that the nationality question would be resolved following the move to political pluralism and the opening of the 1991 National Conference (CNS). However, the CNS upheld the law. Following the Banyarwandan's loss of Zairean nationality, the Hunde, later aided by the presence of unpaid units of Zairean soldiers, tried to drive the Hutu and Tutsis out of the region.

Ethnic conflicts, erupted in the North Kivu Masisi region from March to June 1993 and again in 1996 in repeated bloodshed between the Hunde and Banyarwanda populations. The arrival of some 1.5 million Hutu refugees in 1994 further widened the internal regional conflict to that of an international cross-border conflict. Rwanda accused the Zairean government of aiding ex-FAR and Interhamwe militia to establish military bases of operation in the Masisi area, assisting them in the procurement of arms, and cross-border attacks on Rwandan targets.

The gradual integration of the ex-FAR and Interhamwe militia into the Masisi Hutu 'Combatant' forces around mid-1995 shifted the balance of power within the Masisi region. Where previously the Hunde had had the upper hand, they were defeated and an estimated 250,000 were pushed off their lands by the combined Hutu militias (5). The attacks also culminated in the virtual removal of the Tutsis from the Masisi area. In April 1996, the government launched the military operation "Kimya" to restore order. In reality, armed engagements between the two forces were avoided when the Hutu forces systematically removed themselves from areas targeted by the "Kimya" operation.

Corresponding to the change in the power dynamics in this area, the idea of a Hutu homeland in the Masisi became more pronounced amongst the 1994 Hutu refugees. The proposed integration into the Masisi area of Hutu refugees, would also have ensured continued destabilization of the area. The Hutu would have had a lucrative base from which to rebuild their army and launch attacks into Rwanda, ensuring continued international instability in the region for decades.

>From July 1994 to mid-1996, some 250,000 Tutsis had arrived in Rwanda because of the instability in the Masisi area and, to a lesser extent, a desire to repatriate (6). Initial returnees were granted 1.5 hectares of land per family. Given the land crunch in Rwanda even this policy was considered unsustainable. Moreover, within a generation or less, taking into account Rwandan inheritance laws and the high birth rates, these holdings would have been subdivided amongst the deed holder's sons until they were too small to support even one person. Compared to the large and fertile tracts of land the Tutsis had been forced to abandon in Masisi, many believe this would eventually have led to discontent and agitation for the return of their Masisi lands.

In March 1996, the integrated Hutu forces launched a northern offensive aimed at the removal of the last Tutsi enclaves in the Rutshuru area. Tutsi refugees claimed the attacks were conducted with the complicity of Zairean soldiers, who also relieved them of their identity cards. On 7 October 1996, the Deputy Governor of South Kivu, Lwasi Ngabo Lwabanji, announced that the more than 200,000 Banyamulenge had one week to leave Zaire. Following this offensive, Zairean Tutsis began arriving in Rwanda in the thousands. The Rwandan government declared the new arrivals to be refugees and established a refugee camp on the Goma-Gisenyi border. This was aided by the fact that most of the fleeing Tutsis strongly identified themselves as refugees not returnees. Zaire charged that Rwanda was training and arming refugees from this camp and local Zaireans claimed that the Tutsi refugees regularly attacked Zairean villages.

In October 1996, Banyamulenge (Tutsi) rebel forces invaded the Kivu regions from Rwanda, justifying the invasion on the basis of their revoked nationality and the illegal expulsion from their homes. Locals claim that the ADFL forces advanced with the precision and organization of a well-trained army. Several weeks later, Laurent Desire Kabila, a non-Tutsi Zairean, emerged as the acclaimed leader of what he called the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). The initial attacks forced Hutu refugees to flee eastward into the rainforest; however, in November 1996 the refugees from the Goma area were abruptly routed back towards the Rwandan border, effectively eliminating the need for the deployment of a large multinational force. As international attention was drawn to the thousands of returning refugee in Goma, those from Bukavu were being pursued further eastward, some 250-300,000 eventually arriving in areas near Shabunda and Lubutu. A significant number of Hutu intellectuals and leaders were among the Bukavu refugees who were not permitted to return.

According to locals, hundreds of residents in Goma and Bukavu were killed in the fighting and systematic settling of accounts with those whom they claim had assisted in the Tutsi expulsion. Shortly thereafter, civil order was restored with ADFL troops demonstrating a discipline not seen amongst Zairean soldiers. Civil servants' salary arrears were paid and commercial life resumed.

Prior to January 1997, ADFL forces had seemed to stagnate with the capture of a corridor extending north to Bunia and south to Fizi. However, following the launching of the Zairean counter-offensive in February, ADFL forces doubled the rebel-held territory. As of the end of February 1997, the front had advanced just outside of Kindu and Kisangani.


Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) It is also known as the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo Kinshasa (AFDL). Formed 18 October 1996 at Lemera, South Kivu, the main force is composed of :

1) Partie de la Revolution Populaire (PRP), a self-proclaimed "marxist-orientated" rebel group founded by Kabila in 1967 during the Lumumbist rebellion. It was based in the Fizi and Baraka mountains and is also refered to a the "Simba" of "Muleliste" movement. The PRP also claims it can call on support from John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Army if needed (7).

2) Alliance Democratique des Peuple (ADP,) led by Deogratias (Deo/Douglas) Bugera from Rutshuru, is primarily composed of Zairean Tutsis -- Banyamulenge and Banyamasisi --who have been driven out their homes in North and South Kivu. Muller Ruhimbika is considered to be a prominent Banyamulenge member. Their overall population, not only soldiers, is estimated at some 300,000.

3) Mouvant Revolutionnaire pour la Liberation du Zaire (MRLZ), led by Masusu Nindaga, draw their ranks from the Bashi tribe around Bukavu, South Kivu.

4) Conseil National de Resistance pour la Democatie (CNRD)is composed of rebel fighters from the eastern Kasai, they were led by Andre Kisase Ngandu, a Luba (or Muluba) from Lumumba's Kasai-Oriental tribe.

5) Hunde and Ngilima Mai-Mai from the North Kivu region (groups of the Mai-Mai have fought on both sides of conflict)

6) Local recruits from rebel-held areas, whose numbers are growing

7) FAZ deserters, whose numbers are also said to be increasing.

Mobutu and the Zairean government claim that the ADFL is a surrogate for Rwandan and Ugandan, as well as Burundian, aggression. Zaire claims that ADFL forces received and continue to receive a substantial amount of logistical support, including soldiers, from Rwanda and possibly Uganda. Uganda has also launched counter-attacks on Ugandan rebel strongholds in North Kivu. These have coincided with ADFL advances in the same area. Kabila has since said that some Ugandans and Rwandans were fighting with ADFL forces because of ethnic solidarity, claiming that the soldiers in question originate from tribes that cross national boundaries. Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame claimed the soldiers were deserters.

Analysts speculate that ADFL is looking for a way to become financially independent of their backers. The captured gold mines offered such an opportunity, but flooding and sophisticated equipment have to date prevented ADFL forces from effectively exploiting this resource.


C.1 Laurent Kabila Laurent Kabila, who is 63, was born to the Luba tribe in the town of Ankoro, Shaba, along the Zaire river. He studied philosophy in France and then became a member of the North Katanga (Shaba) assembly, supporting then Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. As with other members of the Lumumbist movement, Kabila was considered to have a Marxist/Maoist orientation. Following Lumumba's death, he joined the Lumumbist rebel movement, the National Liberation Council of the Congo Zaire (NLC), and in April 1964 joined Gaston Soumaliot in launching the "Simba" rebellion in the Rusizi lowlands near Uvira. However, low morale, accusations of betrayal and dissension within the ranks of the NLC soon led to its collapse, following a military offensive aided by US military aircraft and Belgian paratroopers brought in by Mobutu to save Zaire from "communism" - the rebels fled Zaire in 1964. The division of the country between two governments, one identified as communist, was used by Mobutu to justify his second coup.

In October 1967, Soumaliot and Kabila founded the People's Revolution Party (PRP) with an armed wing called the People's Armed Forces, a rebel group based in Fizi and the Baraka mountains, near lake Tanganyika. They received financial and logistical support from the Soviet Union and China, which was channeled through a 'sympathetic' Tanzania (4). Their numbers also included a contingent of Rwandan Tutsis, lead by Mandandi, and some 100 Cuban soldiers. Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, having spent over a year with the PRP, was disillusioned with the rebels' incompetence, disorganization and the perpetual absence of Soumaliot and Kabila, who were referred to as "tourists" by their own troops. Che Guevara felt sorry for the peasants who were victimized and ill-treated by the rebels (4). Following their defeat in 1977, Kabila fled to Tanzania from where he continued his guerrilla warfare in the Fizi area until 1988. Prior and subsequent to this defeat, Kabila had spent a great deal of time in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he is said to have met with Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere (7 & 8).

Initially, many believed that Kabila would be able to draw support from his Shaba region. However, many in the Shaba do not remember Kabila's PRP days favourably. In fact, Shabans from his own Luba ethnic tribe blame Kabila for the death of popular Mulubakat leader Jason Sendwe, secessionist Moise Tshombe's rival. While Shaba is interested in greater political and financial autonomy, many still want to remain in Zaire. They are more likely to maintain a neutral stance until Kabila is clearly winning. While this does not assist Kabila, tactically, it means he may not have to conquer Shaba.

C.2 Colonel Andre Kisase Ngandu (a.k.a. Kassasse) ADFL military commander Andre Kisase Ngandu, sometimes referred to as "Colonel" or "Major-General", was leader of the National Resistance Council for Democracy (CNRD), one of the Alliance's key member groups and a veteran foe of President Mobutu. He was a Luba from Patrice Lumumba's Kasai tribe. Rumours of his death began circulating in Goma in early 1997. Locals claim he was killed by Rwandan/ADFL soldiers over a dispute about gold spoils taken from one of the northern towns and destine for Rwanda. Two weeks later a second rumour, believed to have been circulated by Kabila, claimed Kisase had been gravely wounded in a January 8th Mai-Mai ambush in Butembo. A statement, purporting to come from the CNRD, claimed Kisase was assassinated by "armed elements in the service of Kabila". In a third account of his disappearance, he was reportedly evacuated to Uganda following a serious injury and has not been heard from since. No other leader has emerged to replace Kisase as Kabila's trusted second-in-command.

C.3 Kipulu Waluwalu Kipulu Waluwalu, who is from another political party, is deputy military commander of the ADFL forces. As Kisase's second-in-command he is the most likely replacement.

C.4 John Ilunga John Ilunga is Kisase's nephew and the current head of the former Zairean intelligence services, SNIP, in Goma.

C.5 Cubaka Anatole Bishikasabo Anatole Bishikasabo, who is an old alley of Kabila, was named provincial governor of the rebel-held territories.

C.6 Moise Nyarubebo Mahizi Kabila's secretary and aid.


D.1 Mai-Mai Warriors (a.k.a. Mayi-Mayi) The Mai-Mai are guerrilla warrior groups originally set up by the Hunde tribe. They originated in the 1960s as part of a nationalist and Marxist guerrilla group under the leadership of Patrice Lumumba, who was succeeded by Pierre Mulele. In the 1960s, the Mai-Mai movement also attracted deserters from Sergeant Mobutu's Congolese Armed Forces. They have a strong belief in magic, hence the name Mai-Mai, meaning "water", which is based on their belief that special potions neutralize bullets by turning them into water. Mulele's group was defeated in 1964. More recently, the term Mai-Mai is often preceded by another name linked to the region of origin of a specific group of warriors, such as Ngilima (Hunde) Mai-Mai, Bangirima Mai-Mai, etc. As a group they generally hate both Rwandan and Zairean Hutu, because of skirmishes over land ownership, however many have not supported attacks on Tutsis as some Mai Mai view the Tutsis as fellow victims of Hutu aggression.

Following the capture of Zairean territory by ADFL forces, Mai-Mai warriors, most of whom were young untrained boys, soon joined their ranks. Frequent fighting broke out between the two groups leading to ADFL orders to eliminate elements of the Mai-Mai leadership and retrain the warriors. A 'truce' between the two parties was announced on rebel radio in early 1997.

D.2 Banyamulenge (and Banyamasisi) The Banyamulenge (singular: nyamulenga) are members of the Tutsi (plural: Batutsi) ethnic group from the South Kivu and the Banyamasisi (singular: Nyamasisi) are Tutsis from the North Kivu area. They are also referred to collectively as the Banyamulenge, 'rebels' or 'Tutsi rebels' and are believed to form the nucleus of the ADFL forces.

>From 1991 to 1996 anti-Banyamulenge sentiments were espoused not only by the Kivu military and political leadership but by those in Kinshasa as well. Thus conflict resolution, which must include settlement of the nationality question and the sharing of land, political power and wealth, will have to occur on a national as well as regional level.


E.1 Forces Armees Rwandais (Ex-FAR) The ex-FAR was the Rwandan army, which was composed mainly of Hutu soldiers and was a major player in the 1994 genocide. At the time of their defeat by RPF forces in mid-1994, their numbers were estimated at some 20,000. Most fled to North Kivu were they regrouped their families in Mugunga refugee camp, establishing a military training camp further west. According to military sources, Service d'Action et de Renseignement Militaires (SARM) provided training and weapons to the ex-FAR. From bases in Masisi they launched cross-border attacks into Rwanda. Starting in May 1996, local sources in the Kivu regions reported significant ex-FAR movements towards Burundi, where they were allegedly preparing an offensive in conjunction with Burundian Hutu rebels (Palipehutu & FDD),which was preempted by the military coup in Burundi. The ADFL offensive in October 1996, cut ex-FAR supply lines and some believe also preempted a large scale Hutu attack on Rwanda.

Many members of the ex-FAR and their families are believed to be among the refugees who fled to the Shabunda and Lubutu areas. The estimated 300,000 refugees in this area also include innocent refugees who claim they are being held hostage by ex-FAR forces and have expressed a desire to return to Rwanda if a safe corridor can be arranged. Local sources report that elements of the ex-FAR are now fighting alongside Zairean soldiers in the counter-offensive against ADFL forces.

E.2 Interahamwe The term initially referred to village work brigades established to allow villagers to work off their taxes. This organizational unit was co-opted by Hutu extremists in the Rwandan Habyarima government as a means of training a Hutu militia force. Their exact numbers are unknown. Members of the Interahamwe units were trained to kill using machetes and instructed to prepare their villages for the genocide. They are credited with the organization of most commune and village level killings. Members of the Interahamwe are also believed to be fighting with Zairean soldiers in the counter-offensive.

E.3 Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR) The RDR is considered to be the new Rwandan Hutu leadership, a political organization issuing out of the South Kivu refugee camps, where most of the Hutu intellectuals were based.

E.4 Zairean Hutu (MAGRIVI or Combattants) Another group of Hutu is the Zairean Hutu, who having joined forces with the Rwandan Hutu, is often included under the general 'Hutu' label. However, care should be taken to distinguish between these two groups as they have different political objectives which temporarily coincided. The Zairean Hutus have been in Zaire for generations and consider themselves to be Zairean. Local authorities estimated the Hutu population at some 4-500,000 in North Kivu (5). In the Kivu regions some Hutu had formed a Virunga Farmers and Herders Association, Mutuelle des Agriculteurs et Eleveurs du Virunga (MAGRIVI), which was reportedly indirectly implicated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. MAGRIVI, which was founded in 1989 by Sekimonyo wa Magango, the former Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, allegedly supported Rwandan President Habyarima's regime and the Interahamwe financially. Following the exodus of the Rwandan Hutus to eastern Zaire, MAGRIVI consolidated itself into a militia group, the Hutu Combatants, who worked in close collaboration with the ex-FAR and Interhamwe militia, whose apparent objective was the establishment of a racially pure Hutuland (1&8).

Since the ADFL attack on the Kivu regions, these Hutus have disappeared from the public eye. It is possible that they are hiding in the rainforest or form part of the internally displaced who fled west with the refugees. Like the Banyamulenge situation, any resolution of the crisis must eventually address the question of Zairean Hutu nationality.


Most of the above information was gathered from news and wire services, the journal 'Africa Confidential'and interviews with various local sources. Other sources include:
1. 'Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Zaire', UNCHR, 16/09/96
2. Figures provided by local authorities in 1996, based on the Zairean
Institut National de la Statistique studies up to 1991.
3. 'Ba' is the Swahili prefix used to make a word plural. In the above
document the singular or plural form of certain tribes are used based on
their most common usage to date.
4. 'Che Guevera and the Congo', The New Left Review, No.220, Nov./Dec. 1996,
5. Figure based on unoffical estimate made by NGO and UN sources in the area.
6. Rwandan government statistics provided by UNHCR Goma in 1996
7. 'The Coming of Kabila', NewAfrican, No.349, Feb. 1997, p.12-13
8. 'Ethnic Confict in North Kivu', Law Group Report, 1996
9. IRIN 1996 Report on Maisis and South Kivu

This report is part of a series of briefs designed to assist the humanitarain community understand the complexity and history of the current situation in Zaire. Part I: List of Key Political Players was distributed 24.02.97. Part II: Historical Overview of Zaire and Part III: Zaire Who's Who were distributed 27.02.97.

The above has been compliled from varied sources and in no way reflects the views of the United Nations.

Nairobi, 28 February 1997

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 19:22:38 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Briefing Part IV, 28 Feb 1997 97.02.28 Message-ID: <>

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

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