Zairian rebels renew offensive
April 13, 1997
Web posted at: 2:37 p.m. EDT (1837 GMT)
GOMA, Zaire (CNN) -- After a three-day pause, Zairian rebels
renewed their campaign Sunday to topple President
Seko. Rebel forces marched toward the capital of Kinshasa,
where one official described the mood as "an atmosphere of
Rebels have swept across eastern Zaire since October,
capturing half the nation, including its second- and third-
largest cities. A rebel ultimatum had given Mobutu until
Sunday to resign -- a demand Mobutu defiantly rejected
"We have decided we won't give Mobutu another a chance," said
Bizima Karaha, the rebel's foreign affairs adviser. "We want
him to leave the country and then we can negotiate a cease-
Gen. Amela Lokima, the military governor of Kinshasa,
described the capital as being in chaos and appealed
for calm among its 5 million residents.
"An atmosphere of panic ... reigns among Kinshasa's men and
women," Lokima said in an address on state television. "The
most fantastic rumors, according to which the city of
Kinshasa would soon fall to the armed rebellion, are gaining
"The security of our capital is our fundamental duty."
State television reported panic had gripped districts of
Kinshasa near the airport after anti-Mobutu militants urged
residents to evacuate.
Karaha said rebel leader Laurent Kabila will probably travel
to South Africa soon to boost peace talks there and spur
negotiations on Mobutu's departure.
Rebels have been pushing for a summit with Mobutu. On
Saturday, the president indicated for the first time he would
be willing to meet with Kabila if the rebel leader asked
"politely." Karaha said Kabila may accept Mobutu's offer to
Rebels contend Mobutu, whose net worth is estimated at more
than $5 billion, has enriched himself while leaving the
nation impoverished during his nearly 32-year reign.
Rebels captured Lubumbashi, the nation's second-largest city,
on Friday in the conflict's heaviest fighting to date. The
conquest consolidated the rebels' hold on the mineral-rich
southeast, the source of much of the revenue for Zaire's
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