February 14, 1997 |
Rebels advanced Thursday toward Kisangani, Zaire's third-largest city, gaining ground in their battle to oust President Mobutu Sese Seko. But while rebel leader Laurent Desire Kabila said his forces could take Kisangani quickly, he said he would prefer to negotiate for Mobutu's resignation. Kabila had earlier given Prime Minister Leon Kengo wa Dondo's government until Feb. 21 to get rid of Mobutu. He said his forces would step up their attacks if Mobutu did not step down.
February 9, 1997 |
Rebel forces in eastern Zaire have achieved major territorial gains in the past week and now, for the first time, appear to seriously threaten the government of one of Africa's largest nations. United Nations officials, diplomats and military experts who closely follow the war say the guerrillas have smashed a long-promised counteroffensive launched with much fanfare Jan. 20 by Zairian troops and several hundred mercenaries, mostly French and Serb.
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.