AFRICA: GREAT LAKES page
& Rwanda #Congo
A SERIOUS MILITARY THREAT
Hundreds of thousands died in Rwanda in 1994
By Chris Simpson in Kigali March 2, 1999
The abduction of foreign tourists in the Bwindi
National Park in Uganda is being blamed on Rwandan rebels known as the
The Interahamwe are viewed by the Rwandan authorities
as the remaining hardcore of the force which carried out much of the mass
killing during the genocide of 1994.
Close to five years on, the Interahamwe militias
are still fighting their own war, sometimes inside Rwanda, but now more
often just across the border.
The Rwandan Government says a large-scale military
campaign has cleaned up the troubled northwest of Rwanda, but accepts that
the rebel units have since regrouped in the neighbouring Democratic Republic
The Interahamwe's exact strength is not known,
and it has proved difficult to identify a clear political and military
But there have been reports that thousands of
Rwandan rebels have been brought under arms by Congo President Laurent
Kabila to support
his fight against Congolese rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
A report last year by the United Nations confirmed
that the Interahamwe were still receiving arms and money from outside supporters.
The militia's main strongholds are thought to
be in the mountains which straddle the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is a region of volcanoes and thick forests,
which is also home to hundreds of mountain gorillas.
But wildlife tourism, once a lucrative source
of revenue, has been severely hit by the continuing conflicts in this part
of Africa, and the Interahamwe have made a point of targeting gorilla sites.
The abduction and killing of tourists is now seen
as an important tactic for a rebel movement anxious to boost its profile
abroad and to cause fresh security worries for the authorities in Rwanda
November 13, 1998
CHAD URGED TO PULL OUT OF CONGO
The rebels are pushing westwards
A senior opposition figure in Chad, Jean Alingue,
has called on the government to withdraw the troops it has supporting President
Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The call follows confirmation by the Chad Government
that its troops were ambushed by rebels opposed to President Kabila in
CHAD IS ONE OF FOUR AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO HAVE
INTERVENED ON THE SIDE OF PRESIDENT KABILA.
THE CONGO REBELS ARE BACKED BY THE COUNTRY'S EASTERN
NEIGHBOURS, UGANDA AND RWANDA.
BBC West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle says
it is not clear why Chad has sent troops as it does not share a border
Mr Alingue, a former prime minister, said Chad
did not have a defence accord with Congo and there was no legal basis for
the deployment of troops.
A Congolese rebel faction and their Ugandan allies
said they killed over 200 soldiers from Chad in an ambush at the end of
last month. The Chad Government has admitted only a handful of casualties.
Ugandan Chief-of-Staff Brigadier James Kazini,
told the BBC by telephone from the war zone that two Chadian battalions
were defeated when his men and the Congo rebels captured the northern town
Businessman turned Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre
Bemba spoke of a "slaughterhouse" after a Chadian column was ambushed.
"Our men killed 200 Chadians, and took 37 prisoners,
including two colonels," Mr Bemba said.
A local Red Cross official told the BBC he had
personally buried over 100 Chadian soldiers.
Three Chadian prisoners in the rebel-held city of Kisangani told the AFP
news agency that Chad had sent two battalions to recapture the town of
Buta, an important transport crossroads also held by the rebels.
They said they fell into the ambush on their way
Hutus enter Congo
In another development, the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees has said several thousand ethnic Hutus who
fled Rwanda four years ago have now crossed into Congo.
The UNHCR said it feared they were going to
fight alongside President Kabila's forces.
The Hutus, who fled Rwanda after the mass slaughter
of the Tutsi minority in 1994, had been living in Congo-Brazzaville and
the Central African Republic.
Our correspondent says they are natural allies
of President Kabila, who is fighting a rebellion backed by the predominantly-Tutsi
Chad, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have all
sent troops to assist President Kabila's government in Congo. Rwanda and
Uganda have admitted backing the rebels, who have captured a significant
portion of Congolese territory in the last three months.
Most of southern and eastern Africa has now
been drawn into efforts to solve the Congo crisis either by diplomatic
or by military means.
August 27, 1998
ZIMBABWE SENDS MORE TROOPS TO KINSHASA
President Kabila said troops in Kinshasa were taking part in a "mopping
Zimbabwe is sending reinforcements to the Democratic Republic
of Congo after a day of heavy fighting in the capital, Kinshasa.
State media said a plane-load of troops had already left Harare.
Soldiers from the 600-strong Zimbabwean force already in Kinshasa
have been helping to defend the international
airport east of Kinshasa which came under rebel attack on Wednesday.
MASSACRE TOLL PUT AT 200
Meanwhile Italian missionary sources now put at more than 200 the
number of civilians killed by rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic
A Catholic news agency said the victims of the massacre were
buried near the town of Uvira.
It said ethnic Tutsi rebels attacked the civilians suspecting
them of supporting the government of Laurent Kabila.
Several missionaries were among those reported killed.
August 26, 1998
FIGHTING REACHES KINSHASA
Kinshasa awoke to the sound of gunfire and explosions
Government forces and rebels are fighting near Kinshasa's international
airport on the outskirts of the capital.
The sound of heavy gunfire and several explosions was heard
in the city on Wednesday morning coming from the direction of Ndjili International
Airport, 30km south-east of Kinshasa.
The airport is heavily defended by government troops in addition
to Zimbabwean troops that arrived on
Tuesday in the capital.
August 24, 1998
ANGOLAN ARMY ADVANCES ON CONGO REBELS
Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo say the Angolan army
- which has intervened in the conflict on the side of President Laurent
Kabila - has made further advances against rebel positions west of the
The Portuguese news agency, quoting Angolan military sources,
said that the rebels had been forced out of
the ports of Moanda and Banana, situated on Congo's Atlantic coast.
It said both towns fell on Sunday.
The reports could not be independently verified.
Central African war
Meanwhile African leaders are urging the rebels and forces loyal
to President Kabila to call a truce. They fear the conflict could escalate
into a regional central African war.
Earlier, both sides acknowledged that the rebels had lost control
of the nearby airbase at Kitona.
But the rebels made gains in eastern Congo, capturing the third
biggest city, Kisangani.
Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at
19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
HATE MESSAGES ON EAST
CONGOLESE RADIO CALLS FOR TUTSI MASSACRE
Volunteers of the People's Self-defense force to resist
Congolese radio has broadcast a statement by a
major loyal to President Laurent Kabila which repeats CALLS FOR THE CONGOLESE
"TO TAKE REVENGE" ON THE RWANDANS AND "MASSACRE THEM WITHOUT MERCY".
The statement, by Maj Mudenke, was made on French-language
Congolese RTNC radio from Bunia, in the northeastern district of Ituri
close to the border with Uganda, at 0500 gmt on August 12:
A sizeable troop reinforcement arrived in Bunia
yesterday accompanied by the 225th Brigade Commander, Sulungu Nembezo,
the commander in charge of operations in the east of the country. The terrific
Myumba himself arrived to take charge of the operations.
"Be glad, keep your courage," Maj. Myumba told
the residents who welcomed him with much applause ... "the deaths caused
to us by the Rwandans are indescribable and incalculable.
"We have come here to take revenge. The war will
be a lengthy, large and vast one, because we will show the toads that never,
and never ever again will they swallow the elephant.
"We will repulse them, and this time round, we
will pursue them into their territory and do to them what they did to us
in our soil.
"Be ferocious. If you happen to encounter a Rwandan
enemy. ... beat him to bruises."
Maj. Mudenke then quoted from an address by the
"smiling and confident" Ituri District Commissioner Mugeni:
"Ituri, which swore loyalty to President Kabila,
will not be captured.
"The entire population has become a military population
from today onwards.
"You will detect enemies and massacre them without
mercy, victory is assured."
The Ituri residents shouted loudly: Revenge!
The same radio station, Congolese radio from Bunia,
at 0430 gmt on August 8, broadcast a commentary urging its listeners to
attack Rwandan Tutsis:
"Reverting to the march... IT SHOULD BE STRESSED
THAT PEOPLE MUST BRING A MACHETE, A SPEAR, AN ARROW, A HOE, SPADES, RAKES,
NAILS, TRUNCHEONS, ELECTRIC IRONS, BARBED WIRE, STONES, AND THE LIKE, IN
ORDER, DEAR LISTENERS, TO KILL THE RWANDAN TUTSIS, who are currently in
Ituri District and continue to spread information against the Congolese
by means of radiotelegraphy with the sole objective of dominating us.
"So we are clearly saying: No! to the invaders.
We also say no to the formation of a Tutsi empire on our territory.
"We also say no to the expansion of Rwanda into
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"We say: No! to Tutsi hegemony, we say no to reviewing
borders fixed by the Berlin Conference in 1885..."
Regard Rwandan Tutsis as the enemy
"WHEREVER YOU SEE A RWANDAN TUTSI, REGARD HIM
AS YOUR ENEMY. WE SHALL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO FREE OURSELVES FROM THE
GRIP OF THE TUTSIS.
"The Congolese Armed Forces have just kicked out
of Kisangani town all the Tutsis, who are now in disarray in the equatorial
forest of Bafwasende.
"Dear listeners, ladies and gentlemen: Open your
eyes wide Those of you who live along the road, jump on the people with
long noses, who are tall and slim and want to dominate us...
"Dear Congolese compatriots: Wake up, be aware
of our destiny so as to defeat the enemy."
A truck full of government soldiers passes through streets
of the capital, Kinshasa Sunday. Many foreign nationals have been evacuated
as the rebel forces prepare the final assault on the capital of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.
Tuesday, August 4, 1998
FIGHTING RAGES IN REBEL TOWN
Reports from Kinshasa say that government troops have
launched an offensive against the eastern town of Bukavu, one of the areas
of the Democratic Republic of Congo where rebel forces are in open revolt
against President Laurent Kabila.
One government source, the Justice Minister, Mwenze
Kongolo, was quoted by the French news agency as saying the rebels had
fled the town.
But another, the Interior Minister, Gaetan Kakudji,
said that fighting was still going on.
Mr Kakudji said the rebel soldiers are mainly
ethnic Tutsis backed by troops from neighbouring Rwanda were holding part
of the town, which is on the border with Rwanda.
"The Banyamulenge (ethnic Tutsis) backed by Rwandan
troops are in one part of the town while our forces control another," Mr
A Bukavu resident said the fighting began early
on Tuesday with heavy bombardment. He said it was impossible to say who
controlled the town.
United Nations sources also reported fighting
overnight in the town of Uvira, 120 km (75 miles) south of Bukavu.
The government on Monday imposed a dusk-to-dawn
curfew in Kinshasa, following sporadic gunbattles there. .
Officials of the government of President Laurent
Kabila accused Congolese Tutsi forces and Rwandan troops of starting the
violence. The government has urged its neighbours to resist the temptation
to involve themselves in an army rebellion.
However, a Rwandan military spokesman has denied
there were any Rwandan soldiers in the country.
Earlier, the military commander of the Congolese
Army in the eastern town of Bukavu said he and other army units in the
east were withdrawing their support from Mr Kabila's government, accusing
him of driving the country on a downward slope.
Witnesses said the border between Congo and neighbouring
Rwanda was closed because of fighting involving the Congolese armed forces
and ethnic Tutsis of the Banyamulenge group.
Soldiers in three towns - Goma, Bukavu and Kindu
- are said to be involved in the uprising.
In Kinshasa, rival soldiers clashed in a military
barracks and a nearby base, both of which have been sealed off by government
The BBC correspondent in Kinshasa, William Wallace,
says it remains unclear whether the fighting in the capital has been provoked
by heightened tensions within the military or by a serious bid by dissidents
to take power.
The unrest follows President Kabila's decision
last week to order Rwandan troops to leave the former Zaire.
Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated army helped spearhead
the seven-month bush war that brought Kabila to power in May 1997.
KABILA: THE RWANDA
August 4, 1998
Laurent Kabila, the President of the Democratic
Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire - rose to power with the backing of
the Tutsi-led government in neighbouring Rwanda.
Relations with his former allies now appear to
The BBC Africa correspondent quotes diplomats
as saying Mr Kabila has pursued too independent a line for his former backers
since taking power last May. He has also moved against ethnic Tutsis in
his administration and army.
Rwanda's involvement with President Kabila dates
back to the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when an estimated
one million Hutu refugees fled to Zaire.
To Rwanda's consternation, Zaire's refugee camps
quickly became a base for extremist Hutu militia - who had been largely
responsible for the genocide.
By 1996, there were reports that Hutu militia
and elements of the Zairean security forces were persecuting Zaire's own
Tutsi community, known as the Banyamulenge.
Kabila's rise to power
Although the Banyamulenge communities had been
in Zaire for centuries, they were - and remain - unpopular with the Congolese.
In what regional analyst Amelia French dubs "a
marriage of convenience", Laurent Kabila, a long-time opponent of Mobutu
Sese Seko, sided with the Banyamulenge rebel movement, which was backed
by the Tutsi-dominated authorities in Rwanda.
In October 1996, Kabila's "Alliance of Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire" launched an offensive against
the Zairean Government.
With the help of ethnic Tutsis and the Rwandan
army, Kabila's alliance took control of over half the country - larger
in size than western Europe - within seven months.
Laurent Kabila declared himself President of the
Democratic Republic of Congo on 17 May 1997.
Rwandan troops ordered out
After Kabila'a rise to power, elements of the
Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army remained in DR Congo. Officially, they were
said to be there to help build up a new army. But correspondents say they
also wanted to keep an eye on their neighbour.
Within the DR Congo there were fears that Rwanda's
presence was too dominant. President Kabila was seen to be allied with
a Tutsi minority that was increasingly unpopular.
At the end of July Mr Kabila ordered his former
allies to withdraw.
1960 Former Belgian Congo gains independence
1965 Mobutu Sese Seko becomes President of Republic
of Congo - later called Zaire
1994 Rwanda's genocide sends an estimated 1 million
Hutu refugees fleeing into Zaire
1996 Laurent Kabila's rebel movement launches
offensive against Zairean government
1997 - May 17 Laurent Kabila declares himself
president of the Democratic Republic of Congo
1997 - September Mobutu Sese Seko dies of prostate
August 10, 1998
THE CONGO CONFLICT: Q&A
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo
has escalated quickly, once again raising fears of wider regional instability.
Below is a quick guide to the basics:
Who is Laurent Kabila?
Laurent Kabila is the President of the Democratic
Republic of Congo, previously named Zaire. When he toppled the former ruler,
Mobutu Sese Seko, just 15 months ago, there was great optimism in the country.
But since then he has angered many by outlawing
political opposition and closing newspapers. He has also been criticised
for failing to implement meaningful reform to restore jobs and deliver
some 40 million Congolese from dire poverty.
How did the rebellion begin?
At the end of July President Kabila ordered Rwandan
troops to leave the Congo.
Correspondents say he was playing on fears among
many Congolese that Rwandans - who were officially in the country to help
train the Congolese army - were too dominant.
But in the east of the country, where disillusionment
with Kabila's regime was strongest, and the people ethnically-aligned with
Rwanda, the move triggered a revolt by a faction of the army.
Why are other countries involved?
President Kabila has blamed the uprising on Rwanda,
saying his country has been invaded by foreign forces. He has also accused
Uganda of sending troops and tanks across the border.
Both countries deny any involvement.
But correspondents say that in Rwanda's case at
least, there is a clear motivation for involvement.
Rwandan troops helped Laurent Kabila come to power
in 1997. He also enjoyed the support of Uganda and Angola, both anxious
to put an end to Mobutu's corrupt regime.
But these countries may have lost patience with
the Congolese president. They each have vital interests in the country's
Rwanda: says Laurent Kabila has failed to control
Hutu militia on Congo's eastern border, who were largely responsible for
killing more than 500,000 Rwandans in 1994, and have since been waging
attacks inside Rwanda from bases in Congo.
Uganda: also shares a border with Rwanda, and
is concerned about regional security. It also faces rebel attacks from
within Congolese territory by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces.
Angola: wants to prevent supplies to Unita rebels
from passing through Congo.
How does the ethnic division between Hutus and
Tutsis play out in the current conflict?
The revolt partly echoes the ethnic upheavals
which have torn the region since 1994's mass killings of Tutsis by the
Hutu majority in Congo's eastern neighbour Rwanda.
An estimated one million Hutu refugees - among
them extremist militias who had taken part in the mass killings - poured
into eastern Zaire when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front took control
There was friction between them and the local
Congolese Tutsis - the Banyamulenge who, with military backing from the
new Rwandan leaders, helped Laurent Kabila oust Mobutu, waging war on the
Rwandan Hutu militias in the process.
The latest fighting was triggered when Banyamulenge
in Laurent Kabila's army mutinied in response to his decision to expel
their allies - troops from the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan army - from
The Kabila government then accused Rwanda of invading
to back their ethnic kin, the Banyamulenge.
How successful have the rebels been?
In a matter of days, rebel forces took control
of a number of key towns in the east, and the oil town of Muanda on the
They quickly advanced to some 300 kilometres from
the capital Kinshasa.
Correspondents say the success of the rebel forces
suggests that they do indeed have backing from Rwanda, and that the rebellion
was well-organised and planned in advance.
link to Prof. Stein's
to ISS 325 War and Revolution sylabus
to PLS 364 International Organization sylabus
to PLS 461 Refugees sylabus