DR Congo

DRC: Fighting in east as army vows to topple Kabila

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAIROBI, 3 August 1998 (IRIN) - Elements of the armed forces in eastern DRC have announced a rebellion to topple President Laurent-Desire Kabila. In a statement read out over Goma radio last night, the commander of the Goma-based 10th battalion, named as Sylvain Mbuchi, declared: "On behalf of government troops, we decry the regime of Laurent-Desire Kabila." "We the army of the DRC have taken the decision to remove President Laurent-Desire Kabila from power." The statement, monitored by news agencies, accused Kabila of "misrule, nepotism and corruption". It urged the Congolese people to remain calm and carry on their normal activities.
An announcement read out over Bukavu radio today by an unidentified person declared the Kivus would become an "autonomous zone, no longer part of the country", humanitarian sources told IRIN. Bukavu was reportedly calm today and the airport is so far still operating.

Meanwhile, Goma airport was today closed and people were requested to hand in any radio communication equipment, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) said in a despatch from the border town of Gisenyi. Humanitarian sources in Uvira told IRIN the situation there was quiet, but the borders at Uvira, Bukavu and Goma are all closed.

However, south of Uvira there was fighting in the Baraka, Fizi and Mboko areas, reportedly between Banyamulenge and Congolese soldiers, aid sources told IRIN. Heavy shooting - small arms and heavy machine guns - has also been confirmed in Kindu, the main town of Maniema province, since around 19:30 hours (local) last night.

Humanitarian organisations in Kinshasa and eastern DRC have been told to stay indoors and evacuation of non-essential staff is under consideration.

Shooting was reported in Kinshasa last night, and media reports said there had been clashes between Banyamulenge and other Congolese soldiers at the military camps of Tshatshi and Kokolo. UN sources in the city told IRIN Kinshasa was quiet today, with the military patrolling the streets. Government spokesman Didier Mumengi called on the people to stay calm and remain indoors. A three-day curfew was declared in Kinshasa to enable "combing" operations to go ahead, according to a government statement broadcast over state radio.

Nairobi, 3 August 1998, 13:20 GMT


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