April 6, 1997 |
Negotiators for Zaire's warring factions sounded diplomatic Saturday at the start of their first face-to-face talks, throwing out terms like "peace" and "democracy." But the rebels, who control a third of the country and are still taking ground, seemed unwilling to compromise, and government negotiators stared stonily ahead when rebels said: "We want freedom, and we shall never negotiate that."
April 7, 1997 |
Rebel leader Laurent Kabila objected Sunday to the presence of American troops on Zaire's border, calling them a threat to his country's integrity. "They could move in at any time. They don't recognize the sovereignty of our people," Kabila said at rebel headquarters in eastern Zaire. "For us, it is a threat to our territorial integrity," said Kabila, whose forces have taken control of the eastern third of Zaire during their seven-month campaign to oust dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
April 22, 1997 |
Rebels blocked aid workers from entering Rwandan Hutu refugee camps near the eastern Zaire city of Kisangani, saying they acted to restore order after local Zairians, angered by the killing of six villagers, began looting aid supplies and stoning foreigners. The identity of the killers was not known, but residents blamed Rwandan Hutu refugees. The rebel action further slowed U.N. efforts to move the estimated 100,000 refugees back to their homeland.
April 15, 1997 |
Activity in this capital ground to a halt Monday as residents stayed home on the first of two days of protests called by opposition leaders pressing for the ouster of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Shops, offices, schools and street markets were closed. Only a few pedestrians braved the streets of the central business district. Taxis, buses and private cars were scarce--perhaps in fear of a threat by opposition militants that stones would rain down on vehicles.
April 5, 1997 |
At least 120 Rwandan refugees are dying every day in two camps sheltering 80,000 people in territory held by Zairian rebels, according to the United Nations. Pam O'Toole, spokeswoman in Geneva for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said tens of thousands are stranded south of rebel-held Kisangani. The crisis prompted the U.N. Security Council on Friday night to call on the rebels to grant aid workers immediate and free access to the refugees.
April 25, 1997 |
As rebels tarry to the east and the president languishes in his palace, the 5 million people of Kinshasa wait and wonder: How will their drama play out? After six months of civil war in which the government's forces mainly just melted away, rebel leader Laurent Kabila and his guerrilla fighters are headed for the capital of this vast central African country. They aim to claim their greatest prize and wrest power from President Mobutu Sese Seko--of this almost everyone feels certain.
March 13, 1997 |
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.
March 8, 1997 |
Rebels closing in on the city of Kisangani in eastern Zaire said they were facing strong resistance. "We're advancing in four columns. We're moving closer and closer, but we're not quite there yet," rebel spokesman Nyembwe Kazadi said by telephone from Tanzania. Kisangani is the last government stronghold in the eastern region. "We're not strolling into town--the way we have in other places--because this is their last stronghold, they're putting in everything they have," Kazadi said.
March 2, 1997 |
Foreign aid workers abandoned Zaire's third-largest city of Kisangani on Saturday, anticipating an exodus of tens of thousands of refugees fearing an attack by approaching rebels. The aid workers' departure leaves about 170,000 refugees without the daily food distributions that have sustained them since December at the Tingi-Tingi camp, 150 miles southeast of Kisangani. The rebels took up arms after the government tried to expel ethnic Tutsis from eastern Zaire.
March 4, 1997 |
Rebel forces trying to overthrow Zaire's government said they were closing in on Kisangani--the last major government stronghold in eastern Zaire--and would take it within the week. Mbuyi Tshikombo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, said the rebels were less than 14 miles from the city of about 300,000 people.