Marek News in Brief: DR Congo
IPS reported that DR Congo RCD rebels have firmly rejected overtures from three former Mobutu generals to join the rebel movement. The three involved are General Kpama Baramoto, former Defense Minister Admiral Mavua Mudima, and Presidential Guard commander General Etienne Nzimbi. IPS said a senior RCD commander, Bob Ngoie, said, "Baramoto and his colleagues tried to impose themselves on us. But we categorically refused to work with them. These generals killed a lot of people. We see them as a thoroughly negative influence. We basically chased them out of town." While the RCD rebels may have their misgivings, and the Rwandans have also indicated some, IPS said the Ugandans did not share that view. IPS said Baramoto was invited to Kisangani by General Kazini, who is arguably the leader of allied forces belonging to the East Great Lakes Coalition. This connection takes on even greater meaning when one considers that Uganda is more closely linked to the MLC rebels led by Jean-Pierre Bemba than the RCD rebels. Assertions have been made that the Mobutu generals might provide their support, financial and advisory, to Bemba. Bemba is operating in the main from bases in northwestern Equateur province. It is this northern strip of the DR Congo that stretches from the Ugandan border to Bangui, Central African Republic, that is of most interest to the Ugandans. By way of background, NCN attended a discussion group session hosted in Washington by the Great Lakes Policy Forum on February 4 and Ugandan State Minister Mbabazi was there. Mr. Mbabazi stressed that Uganda is not an enemy of the Congolese, but instead considers Sudan to be its enemy. Sudanese ground forces are known to be operating in this northern strip and Sudanese aircraft are known to be operating from Gbadolite, in Equateur province, bombing targets in the province. Mr. Mbabazi underlined that Uganda's presence in this northern strip is designed to defeat Sudanese aircraft operating from air bases in the Congo, air operations which potentially threaten Uganda. So Uganda may be seeking the counsel of these generals in its effort to defeat the Sudanese in this region, and the Ugandan linkage to the MLC rebels may give the generals a point of entry back into Congolese politics. One final note must be made with regard to RCD rebel and Rwandan misgivings about General Baramoto. There is substantial --- read mountains of --- circumstantial evidence to indicate that this rebellion, which broke open in August 1998, was actually hatched with the full planning and financial support of General Baramoto and his colleagues as early as July 1997. Baramoto and Company fled Zaire to safe-haven locations in South Africa and Europe and immediately began planning a coup against President Kabila. The RCD and Rwandan rejection of them now may be a bit disingenuous.