YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

U.S. Incurs Ire of Zairians and Premier

March 13, 1997| From Times Wire Services

KINSHASA, Zaire — Protesters chanting "Americans, get out!" burned a U.S. flag Wednesday, and the prime minister angrily accused the international community of ignoring the rebellion in eastern Zaire.

About 200 people demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy, calling for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Daniel Simpson and his staff. Zairian soldiers broke up the demonstration when the flag was burned.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday authorized embassy employees to leave Zaire. Washington also has issued a travel advisory for the 550 Americans in the country, including 320 in this capital city.

It was not clear what prompted the demonstration, but Prime Minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo criticized the United States and most other countries for not helping to quell the region's difficulties.

"The international community--the U.N., the United States, Great Britain--gives the impression that they're not interested in the tragedy that is playing out in Zaire," he told reporters at his office.

"Could it be because Africans are involved?" the prime minister asked. "Why can't they use the same means as they did in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia to save human lives in the Great Lakes region" of eastern Zaire?

Zairian rebels have captured much of eastern Zaire since taking up arms in September. Their main demand is the resignation of President Mobutu Sese Seko, whose 31 years of authoritarian rule have brought devastating poverty and left the country in shambles.

France essentially has been alone in pressing for aggressive outside intervention. French President Jacques Chirac has said that other countries must face up to their responsibilities and put pressure on rebel leader Laurent Kabila and Mobutu to accept a cease-fire.

Los Angeles Times Articles