Rwanda opposes intervention in E. Zaire
Central African leaders convene summit on crisis
November 5, 1996
Web posted at: 12:20 p.m. EST (1720 GMT)
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase
Gasana said Tuesday Rwanda would strongly oppose any
international military intervention in eastern Zaire to aid
more than a million refugees fleeing from fighting there.
"If there were a decision for such an intervention ... it
would be opposed by the sub-region by all means, not only
political," he told a news conference at the Rwandan embassy
France and Spain called Monday for a U.N.-sanctioned military
force to go into Zaire to provide security for the refugees.
French President Jacques Chirac said Tuesday the
multinational force could be replaced by an African force.
Meanwhile, leaders of eight Central African nations met
Tuesday in Kenya to discuss the crisis, with the refugee
plight topping the agenda.
"The conflict in Eastern Zaire poses a serious threat to the
stability of the region," Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi
said at the opening of the summit.
Leaders of Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia,
Eritrea, Cameroon and host Kenya are participating in the
summit. Noticeably absent from the table Tuesday was a
representative of Zaire, which boycotted the summit saying it
would not attend talks until Rwandan troops withdrew from its
Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary-general of the Organization of
African Unity, said before the summit began that leaders
would address both humanitarian and political issues.
"First we must open corridors to ensure supplies and second,
create the conditions so the refugees can return to Rwanda.
That is the most important issue to help find a lasting
solution," he said.
The current crisis stems from the fighting between Zaire's
army and ethnic Tutsis who live in Zaire and who are
allegedly aided by the Tutsi-dominated army of Rwanda.
The fighting has forced a million Hutu refugees to flee
further into Zaire. These Hutus -- who fled Rwanda when the
Tutsis came power following the massacres of 1994 -- have
lived in refugee camps around Lake Kivu for past two years,
intermingling with militants responsible for the 1994 Rwanda
Tutsi rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire Monday to give
international relief organizations time to aid refugees in
either returning to Rwanda or resettling in refugee camps.
In Goma Tuesday, Red Cross workers collected and buried some
of the more than 400 bodies of people killed in fighting in
the border city, the center of relief operations for eastern
The Associated Press and Reuters
contributed to this report.
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