DR Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo: IRIN chronology (as of 28 February 2000)

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NAIROBI, 28 February (IRIN) - Following is a chronology of significant events in the DRC conflict since 9 June 1999. Please refer to two earlier IRIN chronologies for events prior to that date. They can be viewed at http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/cea/countrystories/drc/19990609a.htm and
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16 June 1999: In a report, a local human rights group warns of rising tension and insecurity in Kisangani due to the presence of rival Goma and Kisangani factions of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), with the town's civilians virtually "held hostage."

22 June: In a commentary published in the International Herald Tribune, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC Darioush Bayandor says the DRC crisis has been "all but forgotten" by the international community while "harrowing accounts of famine and epidemics" emerge from some areas.

23 June: Foreign and defence ministers of countries involved in the conflict begin arriving in Lusaka for what will become some two weeks of SADC-organised negotiations on the formulation of a draft ceasefire agreement. Key sticking points in the negotiations include how the Interahamwe militia should be disarmed and the nature of an internal political settlement.

The DRC files a case against Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi at the International Court of Justice for their "invasion of Congolese territory" on 2 August 1998. It asks the Court to order the three countries to leave and pay compensation for looted property.

28 June: The ICRC begins transporting close to 500 mostly Congolese Tutsis from Kinshasa to Rwanda as part of a government-approved operation to evacuate Tutsi civilians "interned" in camps since the start of the conflict.

7 July: Reports emerge of ethnic clashes between the Hema and Lendu near Bunia in northeast DRC, within the newly-formed "autonomous province" of Kibali-Ituri under the control of the Ugandan-backed RCD-Kisangani faction.

9 July: Rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) confirms the capture of Gbadolite, as the MLC makes further advances in Equateur province. Bemba moves his headquarters from Lisala to Gbadolite.

10 July: Leaders of the DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda sign a ceasefire agreement in Lusaka, but the accord is not signed by the three Congolese rebel groups because of a dispute between the two RCD factions over who should properly represent the movement.

The Lusaka agreement provides for an immediate cessation of hostilities and lays out a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, the disarmament of militia groups, the deployment of a UN peace-keeping force and the organisation of inter-Congolese negotiations on a new political dispensation for the DRC.

16 July: In a report to the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposes a three-phased plan for UN support to implementation of the Lusaka agreement, with the immediate fielding of up to 90 military liaison officers (MLOs), the subsequent deployment of 500 military observers, and an eventual full-fledged UN peace-keeping force of an as-yet-unspecified size.

21 July: Warring parties meet in Lusaka to establish the Joint Military Commission (JMC), which the ceasefire agreement tasks with overseeing its implementation until the deployment of a UN force. Also established is the accord's ministerial-level Political Committee to which the JMC is to report.

1 August: MLC leader Bemba signs the Lusaka agreement.

5 August: Bemba says over 500 people are killed when government-allied Sudanese planes bomb the Equateur towns of Bogbonga and Makanza. The charge is denied by both the Kinshasa and Khartoum governments.

6 August: The Security Council authorises the dispatch of 90 UN MLOs to the DRC and regional capitals as the first phase of UN involvement in implementation of the ceasefire.

14 August: Heavy fighting erupts in Kisangani between Rwandan and Ugandan forces backing different RCD factions, killing scores of people and disrupting a UN-supported national polio immunisation campaign. Annan calls the fighting a "flagrant violation of universal humanitarian principles."

17 August: Fighting ends in Kisangani after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame agree on a cessation of hostilities.

31 August: All 51 founding members of the RCD, covering both factions, sign the Lusaka ceasefire agreement under a compromise formula brokered by Zambia and South Africa to secure the divided rebel movement's endorsement of the accord.

3 September: DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila names Mayi-Mayi tribal militia leader Sylvestre Louetcha as his new chief of defence staff.

9 September: At the end of a 10-day mission to the DRC, UN human rights rapporteur Roberto Garreton says the application of the death penalty has resumed in government areas, while rebels continue to massacre civilians in the east.

13 September: The UN begins fielding MLOs to Kinshasa and other regional capitals as part of the new UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC).

23 September: In a setback to the organisation of the inter-Congolese political negotiations envisaged in the Lusaka accord, RCD-Goma rejects three proposed neutral facilitators representing the OAU, the Rome-based Sant Egidio Community and La Francophonie.

29 September: At a UN General Assembly debate on "the armed aggression against the DRC," the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi accuses Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi of using the Lusaka agreement as a pretext for "prolonging indefinitely" their presence in the DRC and plundering Congolese resources.

5 October: RCD-Kisangani leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba moves his base to Bunia and renames his group the RCD Mouvement de Liberation (RCD-ML).

11 October: The first full meeting of the JMC, with representatives of all the Lusaka signatories, is held in Kampala under the chairmanship of OAU-appointed Algerian General Rachid Lallali.

15 October: The Political Committee, meeting in Lusaka to review the JMC's work, calls on the UN to address the DRC situation with "the urgency and seriousness it deserves" and notes that the warring parties were "generally keeping the peace" since the signing of the Lusaka accord.

26 October: The fielding of UN teams to the interior of the DRC is delayed due to government objections over MONUC's deployment plans.

3 November: A UN assessment mission finds a "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in Ituri, where the Hema-Lendu ethnic conflict has displaced over 100,000 people and resulted in an estimated 5,000-7,000 deaths since mid-June.

8 November: Bemba accuses Kabila's forces of launching a "general offensive" in Equateur, while the government says Angolan UNITA rebels are fighting alongside Congolese rebel forces in parts of the DRC.

11 November: UN technical survey teams leave Kinshasa for the field after meetings between Kabila and UN Special Envoy for the DRC Peace Process Moustapha Niasse succeed in removing some MONUC deployment obstacles.

17 November: The OAU begins deploying some 30 "neutral investigators" to regional JMCs in Kabinda, Boende and Lisala to help monitor and verify reported ceasefire violations.

19 November: Annan appoints Tunisian diplomat Kamel Morjane as his Special Representative in the DRC and head of MONUC.

3 December: The Zimbabwean army confirms its forces launched an offensive to break through to Zimbabwean and allied forces trapped for months at Ikela in Equateur. RCD-Goma surrender the key Equateur town of Bokungu amid heavy bombardment.

15 December: OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim nominates former president of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire as the facilitator of the inter-Congolese negotiations, after the DRC government and the three Congolese rebel groups reach agreement at a meeting in Addis Ababa.

20 December: The MLC, RCD-Goma and RCD-ML, meeting in the Ugandan town of Kabale, agree to form a "common front" ahead of the inter-Congolese negotiations but stress that they would each maintain their own forces and identities.

23 December: The UN Security Council, in a statement, says it is "deeply concerned" about the scale of recent fighting in the DRC and calls on all parties to immediately stop violating the Lusaka ceasefire.

Kabila and Museveni sign a "normalising accord" at a mini-summit hosted by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli.

17 January 2000: Forces allied to Kinshasa break the rebel siege of Ikela.

25 January: A week-long debate on the DRC begins at the UN Security Council in New York with the participation of leaders of the six countries involved in the conflict. The leaders reconfirm their commitment to the Lusaka agreement and call for the rapid deployment of a UN peace-keeping force.

23 February: At a summit in Lusaka, regional and rebel leaders set 1 March 2000 as the new starting date for implementation of the ceasefire agreement, based on a proposal from the JMC and Political Committee.

24 February: The Security Council approves Annan's phase II recommendation to increase MONUC's size to 500 military observers supported by some 5,000 UN troops, with a possibility of a full peace-keeping force in the future if the ceasefire accord is respected. The Council resolution provides the expanded MONUC with enforcement powers under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

[ENDS]

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