Zaire confirms new rebel win in east
But government rejects talks
February 4, 1997
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT)
In this story:
EASTERN ZAIRE (CNN) -- Zaire acknowledged on Tuesday that
rebels had taken the lake port of Kalemie in the key mining
province of Shaba. Kalemie, on Lake Tanganyika in eastern
Zaire, has a military base and hydroelectric power supply.
It also controls a key railway line.
The victory extends the holdings of Tutsi-led rebels who've
battled Zaire's army since October. The fall of Kalemie
puts the rebels in control of a border strip of land in
eastern Zaire stretching for more than 600 miles (1,000 km).
Military sources in the region said rebels were pouring in
reinforcements to push further south toward the town of Moba.
A rebel victory there could thwart Zaire's plans to ship
troops across Lake Tanganyika in an effort to retake parts of
Outside help for rebels alleged
The armed rebellion began when ethnic Tutsis who have been
living in eastern Zaire for decades were threatened with
They were joined by other rebels led by Laurent Kabila, who
says their main objective is to overthrow his longtime foe,
President Mobutu Sese Seko, who has ruled Zaire since 1965.
Zaire accuses neighboring Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda of
backing the rebels and has asked the United Nations Security
Council to condemn what it calls an attack by outside troops
on its territory, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on
Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda all deny sending in troops.
Rebel ultimatum reported
Kabila, whose hometown is Kalemie, reportedly issued an
ultimatum to the Mobutu's government threatening a renewed
offensive unless negotiations were held within three weeks.
Zaire has said it would not negotiate until rebels turn over
On Monday, Zairian Defense Ministry officials said troops
from Togo, Chad and Morocco were standing by to fly to Zaire
in support of the Mobutu government. However, Togo on
Tuesday denied it planned to send troops to Zaire.
U.N. to world: Don't forget refugees
Also Tuesday, U.N. refugee chief Sadako Ogata criticized the
international community for losing interest in the plight of
hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees still trapped
in the eastern Zaire war zone.
Speaking ahead of a tour of Africa's troubled Great Lakes
region starting on Thursday, Ogata said the world had
breathed a collective sigh of relief when 600,000 Hutus went
rebels overran their camps, but she added that up to 400,000
were still in eastern Zaire.
"We have to help these people. We can't let them just wither
away," she said.
Correspondent Catherine Bond and Reuters contributed to this report.
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