DR Congo

Kinshasa Summit Strengthens Kabila

News and Press Release
Originally published
Elliot Mahende, PANA Correspondent
KINSHASA, Zimbabwe (PANA) - The African summit in Kinshasa on Sunday appeared to strengthen President Laurent kabila in the face of persistent criticism from the United Nations, France and Belgium over alleged massacres of refugees, a simmering insurgency and dissent among sections of the population in the capital.

In a joint-communique at the end of the four-hour meeting called by the current OAU chairman, Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe, the leaders clearly expressed their support for Kabila's two-month old revolutionary regime in the renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.

The leaders of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, Gabon (Vice president), Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic welcomed the political changes in the DRC after a liberation struggle supported by the Congolese people .

France and Belgium, former colonial powers in the region, backed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in the face of the revolt and do not accept Kabila as a liberator.

Part of the joint communique read: The heads of state and government noted with dismay the persistent and unsubstantiated disinformation campaign against the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries in the region.

They viewed this as an attempt to undermine the leadership in the DRC. They, therefore, condemned this campaign of vilification and the unjustified pressures that are being exerted on the DRC.

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has persistently criticised Kabila's troops for alleged atrocities against Rwandan hutu refugees during the seven-month military campaign from the East to West of the vast country that resulted in the ouster of Mobutu.

The leaders endorsed Kabila's tough conditions for a UN team to enter the DRC and inspect suspected mass graves, including a demand that the investigations go back to 1993 when Rwandan soldiers of the ousted Hutu government and the Interahamwe militia committed genocide against the Tutsi minority.

While the UN, France and Belgium still talk of Rwandan Hutu refugees in the DRC, the African leaders meeting at the imposing parliament building in central Kinshasa expressed appreciation at the total repatriation of the few remaining refugees who were scattered in various parts of the DRC .

Kabila's government insists there is no longer a problem of Rwandan Hutu refugees but the insecurity caused by elements of the defeated former Zairean army, the former Rwandan soldiers and the Interahamwe militia who are now being sponsored by western governments to destabilise the DRCc, Rwanda and Uganda.

The question of human rights is only a pretext for them to enter the region and destabilise it. They are not happy with the leadership in these countries, said Raphael Ghenda, the DRC minister of information, arts and culture in an interview with Ziana.

Without being explicit, the African leaders appeared determined to provide military support for kabila's soldiers to deal with the insurgency particularly in the areas bordering Uganda and Rwanda.

In more explicit terms the leaders pledged financial and material support without any strings attached to overcome urgent

They also appealed to the international community to help kabila establish sound administration and undertake economic recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country.

The leaders' reaffirmation of their full support and confidence in President Kabila was seen to be targeted at maverick politician and opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, who has refused to recognise the new regime in Kinshasa and sent his supporters on the dusty streets to denounce Kabila.

These are clear signals to those who oppose Kabila. If they look around the region, there is no sympathy for them, one diplomat said.

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