Congo developments XXIV

Chronicle: June 1 - August 26, 1998.

Sources: ACP, Reuters, PANA, Congonline, NCN

June 1: In an interview President Kabila says that Congo has no conflict with its neighbours Uganda and Rwanda. The presidents of these countries did not want to participate at the meeting about the Great Lakes region, planned by Kabila for 12 May, but, Kabila said, this has nothing to do with hostility towards Congo.

June 2: Kabila composes a new cabinet, consisting of 26 ministers, 4 ministers of State and 7 vice-ministers. Information Minister Ghenda, Minister of Plan mr Mbaya and some other ministers are fired. Two new departments are formed: Strategic resources, led by Umba Kyamitala, former director of Gecamines, and Human Rights, led by Cheikh Okitundo.
In Lubumbashi 3OO fromer soldiers of Mobutu have been incorporated in the Congolese army (FAC). Some 10.000 former Mobutu soldiers have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, as Angola, Congo-Brazza, Kenya and the CAR.

June 3: In Goma consultations take place between Rwanda, Congo and Uganda about security in the border regions. These consultations are under the direction of the governor of North- Kivu, mr Kanyamuhanga.

June 8/9/10: Minister of State Bugera departs to Europe for consultations. He will visit Brussels and some European capitals.
Minister of Justice Kongolo represents Congo at the summit of the OAU in Ouagadougou (Burkina Fasso). He is accompanied by the ministers Okitundu (Human Rights) and Mbwakiem (vice-minister of Foreign Affairs).
Vincent Mutomb Tshkal, former Minister of Youth and Sports, is appointed secretary general of the AFDL.

June 12: President Kabila repeats that in May 1999 general elections will be held. He made his statement at a meeting of 145 newly appointed provincial administrators.

June 29: In Kinshasa the third Conferenece of COMESA (Economic Comunity of Southern and Eastern Africa) takes place. Participating countries: Congo, Zambia, Egypt, Zimbabwe Namibia, Malawi, Burundi, Swaziland, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Erythrea, Ethiopia, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Soudan. It is decided to create a free-trade zone.
An UN-report is published about alleged mass murders on Hutu refugees. It accuses the AFDL troups and Rwandese military of massacres. A former collaborator of the UN probing team admits that it stays unclear, who was responsible for giving orders to murder, Kabila or the Rwandese vice-president Kagame.

June 30: Introduction of the new currency, the Congolese Franc (1.4 CF=$1).

July 1: Tshisekedi returns to Kinshasa from exile.

July 13: The UN Security Council decides that Rwanda and Congo should start themselves a probe for the perpetrators of mass murders on Hutu, and bring them before court.

July 15: The High Court of Justice in Kinshasa orders to arrest 5 former Kabila ministers on suspicion of corruption . It concerns: Ghenda (Information), Mbaya (Plan), Mututulo (Mining), Loko Kitele (Energy) and Bisesele. They are kept in custody in the Centre Penitentiaire et de reeducation de Kinshasa, the former Makala prison.

July 16: Kabila appoints a new commander in chief: Celestin Kifwa, a cousin of Kabila, dismissing the Rwandese commander Kabare.

July 22: The military court sentences Nsemi, who pretends to be King of (Bas)Congo, to 20 years emprisonment for jeopardizing the security of the State.

July 24: Kabila pays a visit to president Fidel Castro of Cuba.

July 25: The Minister of Finance together with customs and tax officials visit North- and South Kivu, Maniema and East-Province to explain the introduction of the new currency, the congolese franc.

July 28: !!! President Kabila makes an end to the presence of foreign troups in Congo. He starts to send back the Rwandese soldiers to Rwanda.

July 29: Gecamines production in the first 5 months of 1998 has risen considerably compared to 1997:
copper: 16232 tons versus 1963 tons in 1997
cobalt: 1730 tons versus 721 tons in 1997
zinc : 753 tons versus 0 in 1997

July 31: Kabila orders to release 230 prisonners from Makala, allegedly because of too long duration of the trial. From other prisons also prisonners are released.
The operation 'return of Rwandese military' continues.

August 1: Kabila invites leaders of former opposition parties, Boboliko of PDSC and Tshisekedi of UDPS, to participate in the reconstruction of Congo.

August 3: !!! - Banyamulenge abandon confidence in Kabila; soldiers start mutiny in North and South Kivu in the towns Goma, Bukavu, Uvira and Baraka. They are getting support of Rwandese troups.
- In Kinshasa too fightings take place in military camps. A curfew is imposed in Kinshasa for 3 days.
- Two Banyamulenge ministers, Bizima Karaha and Deogratias Bugera, have left Kinshasa and are now in Kampala,the capital of Uganda. Also some high ranking officials of Tutsi origin are on the way to Kampala: Moise Nyarugabo, director of OBMA (Office des Biens Mal Acquis), and Muzuri, ambassador in Canada. Probably Banyamulenge are conducting the rebellion from president Museveni's headquarter in Uganda.
- The ex-Mobutu generals, Baramoto and Nzimbi, are in Kigali for keeping contact with the Rwandese vice-president Kagame. Also ex- prime minister Kengo wa Dondo has been spotted in Kigali.
A column of Rwandese troups is going to Kindu in Maniema.

August 4: - The rebels have hijacked an airplane and forced the pilot to fly to Kitona with 150 havily armed military. (Kitona is a military base at the westcoast of Congo at the mouth of the Congo river)
- Fightings are signalized in Bukavu, Kindu and Kisangani.

August 5: -The rebellion is spreading: Goma and Bukavu are conquered.
- In Kinshasa the Kabila government is in discussion with the civil society in order to combine powers around president Kabila.
- A Rwandese security official announces that some american soldiers have crossed the boundary of Rwanda to Goma.
- There are fightings in Uvira (South Kivu) and Kisangani (East Province).
- In Kinshasa a lot of Tutsi's are harassed.

August 6: President Mugabe of Zimbabwe convocates some regional leaders for emergency talks on friday August 7 in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). The invitation is sent to the presidents of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia.
- Arthur Zahidi Ngoma, UNESCO official in Paris and formerly arrested and released by Kabila, assumed the leadership of the rebels. (He retires some days later.) Other leaders of the rebellion are, apart of the former Kabila ministers Bizima Karaha and Bugera, the former Mobutu ministers Pay Pay and Tambwe Muambe.
- The secretary general of the UN, mr Kofi Annan, issues a declaration in which he stresses that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Congo has to be respected.

August 7: Sivain Bikelenge, commander of the 10th batalion of the Congolese army in the Kivu province, says to have joined the rebels, and that they are on the way to Kalemie at the Lake Tanganyika.
- Belgium calls its compatriotes to leave Congo.
- The rebels have taken two towns at the West coast: the marine base Banana and the oil harbour Moanda. Also the garrison town Kitona at the West coast, where thousands of ex-Mobutu soldiers were trained and reeducated by the Congolese army, is in the hands of the rebels. These soldiers are now fighting with the rebels.
Allegedly 800 Rwandese soldiers have arrived in Kitona by airplane.
- In East Congo the rebels have, after Bukavu and Goma, also conquered Uvira and Kamanyola.
- In Kisangani the Congolese government has imposed a curfew.
- Bizima Karaha says that the aim of the rebellion is the overthrowing of Kabila.
- Ugandese troups have crossed the Congolese border. According to Museveni the goal is to combat the Ugandese rebels, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who should have bases in Congo. Military equipment, such as modern night-sight instruments and airplanes, are furnished to Uganda by The USA.
- In Zimbabwe the Congolese ministers Mpoyo and Kongolo arrive to prepare the discussions that will take place in the weekend between the presidents in the region.
- The OUA sends a mission to Kinshasa to seek a peaceful solution of the crisis.
- In Washington the South-African vice-president Mbeki has a meeting with vice-president Gore. America supports South-Africa's effort to solve the conflict peacefully.
The South-African ministers Nzo (Foreign Affairs) and Modise (Defense) have a talk with Kabila in Lubumbashi.
- The UN evacuates 77 staff members and family from Kinshasa.
- 25 Americans, members of the embassy with family, have left Kinshasa.
- In Kinshasa hundreds of Tutsi's are picked up and interned in the military camp Kokolo.

August 9: -The Congolese army sends troops to the harbour Matadi.
- The consultations in Victoria Fall (Zimbabwe) have not led to a stop of the war. A committee has been formed consisting of the presidents of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia, that wants to act as a mediator.
- In Kinshasa thousands of young people have presented themselves as volunteer to the Congolese army.
- The USA, Germany, Belgium, France, Japan and Great Brittain have urged their countrymen to leave Congo. From Brazzaville flights are arranged to the respective mothercountries.
August 10: - In several cities in Congo there have been massive demonstrations in support of Kabila: in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Matadi, Bandundu.
-Two columns of Ugandese troops have been spotted near Bunia in North-East Congo.

August 11: - The Congolese army surrounds the towns of Banana, Moanda and Kitona.
- Two human rights organisations, La Voix des Sans-Voix and Les Amis de Nelson Mandela call on the Ugandese and Rwandese aggressors to leave the country.

August 12: - The western harbour city Boma has fallen in the hands of the rebels. They are now on the way to Matadi.
- Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, David Mbwakiem, asks the ambassador of the OUA, Mamadou Bah, for help against the aggression by Uganda and Rwanda.
- The president of Zambia, Chiluba, sends a letter to Kabila to express his support.
- The High Court in Kinshasa has fixed its session concerning the cases of several ex-ministers and ex-directors, accused of corruption, on august 21. It concerns the Ministers Biselele and Kitele, and the directors Lubanja Muana (SNEL), Ganda Ngata (Petro-Congo) and Tshimanga Mulaba (Regideso).

August 13: - In New York ambassador Kapanga calls on the UN to start a investigation at the external agression against Congo.
-The rebels have conquered the Inga-dam near Matadi. The Inga-dam is the energy power station for capital Kinshasa. From today the inhabitants of Kinshasa lack regularly electricity and drinkwater.
-Two USA warships with some thousand troops have arrived just before the Congo coast. Great Brittain has a command post on the Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean before the coast of Africa. The French have troops stationed in Gabon.

August 14: - The Congolese National Council of NGO's declares to support Kabila and reject the foreigh agression.

August 15: - Matadi is conquered by the rebels. They continue their way to Mbanza Ngungu, some 120 km from Kinshasa.
-The rebels have presented their movement in Goma,named Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie:
President: Wamba dia Wamba (professor in Dar-es-Salaam, originated from Bas-Congo),
vice-president: Nyarugabo (Munyamulenge, ex-president of OBMA),
secretaire: Jacques Deplace.
The council consists of:
coordinator: Lunda Bululu (ex-prime minister of Mobutu, from Katanga),
Kalala Shambuyi (ex-AFDL, from Kasai),
Tambwe Muamba (ex-minister of Mobutu),
Bizima Karaha (Munyamulenge, ex-minister of Kabila),
-The spokesman of the military branch seems to be commander Jean- Pierre Ondekane, from Equateur, ex-officer of Mobutu and since two month nominated by Kabila as commander of the 10th brigade in Kivu.
- Kabila fired his military chef-staff Kifwa and replaces him by Joseph Kabila, his son.

August 17:-The Committee that resulted from the Victoria Falls conference visits Kinshasa, and afterwards Kigali and Kampala.

August 19: -Zimbabwe decides to sustain Congo militarily. According to President Mugabe 5 Defense Ministers of the SADC- countries are willing to support Kabila.

August 20: -President Mandela of South Africa plans a summit conference of the SADC-countries on 23 August. He rejects military intervention.
- President Clinton tries to keep off Angola from military support of Kabila by promising more pression against the UNITA. President Museveni confers with the U.S.
-The rebels propose Kabila to negotiate.
-The EU rejects by means of a declaration the violations of human rights by both sides.
August 21: Between 300 and 600 Zimbabwean military, including elite troops, and 4 fighter aircrafts have arrived in Kinshasa. Namibia sends equipment. Angolan troops invade Congo from Cabinda.
- Kabila rejects the appeal from the rebels to negotiate.

August 22: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights rejects human rights violations by both parties. Also the cutting off of electricity and drinking water of the population of Kinshasa is condemned.

August 23: At the summit, organised by Mandela in Pretoria, the presidents of the SADC-countries are present, except Dos Santos of Angola and Mugabe of Zimbabwe. President Kabila is also absent, he has sent two ministers: Mova (Transport) and Kongolo (Justice). The presidents of Uganda and Rwanda (no members of SADC) also attend the meeting.
South Africa puts forward a proposal for a peace plan, containing: a cease-fire, freezing troop movement and stopping hostile propaganda against each other. The peace plan recognizes Kabila as president of Congo, but links this recognition to holding elections within a reasonable term. All countries represented accept this proposal.

August 25: -The South-African peace proposal has not led to stopping the war. Zimbabwean troops have come into action in Kinshasa to exterminate rebel units in some quarters. 2500 Angolan military reconquer Matadi on the rebels. Also Kitona, Moanda, Banana and Boma are recaptured.
- Kabila is back in Kinshasa after a stay of 10 days in Katanga.

August 26: - Angolan fighting-planes bomb Kisangani, which is in rebel' hands.
- In Kinshasa a new curfew has been ordered because af fightings in some quarters.
- 37 Civilians and 4 nuns, a seminarist and a village chief are murdered at the mission post Kasika, south of Bukavu, allegedly by rebels.
- Bill Clinton exerces pressure on Angola and Zimbabwe to retire their troops from Congo.
- A number of Congolese human rights organisations (VSV, ASADHO, CDDH, Ligue des Electeurs, Toges noires, Ligues des Droits de l'Homme, AMOS) issued a declaration. On the one hand they reject the aggression by Uganda and Rwanda, on the other they call for political freedom in Congo.

chronicle 8, september 15 -september 28 1997
chronicle 9, september 29 -october 12 1997
chronicle 10, october 13 - october 26 1997
chronicle 11, october 27 - november 9, 1997
chronicle 12, november 10 -november 23 1997
chronicle 13, november 24 -december 7 1997
chronicle 14, december 8 1997 - january 4 1998
chronicle 15, january 5 - january 18 1998
chronicle 16, january 19 - february 1 1998
chronicle 17, february 2 - february 15 1998
chronicle 18, february 16 - march 1 1998
chronicle 19, march 2 - march 15 1998
chronicle 20, march 16 - march 29 1998
chronicle 21, march 30 - april 26 1998
chronicle 22, april 27 - mei 10 1998
chronicle 23, mei 11 - mei 31 1998