Lead story 23/5/97
Democratic Republic of Congo grapples with transition.
PRESIDENT Laurent Kabila entered the calm centre of Kinshasa, capital of the
newly-named Democratic Republic of Congo last Tuesday night, within days of
General Mobuto fleeing into exile as virtually his entire army deserted him.
The victorious rebel leader is expected to announce a new government at any
moment. And the new state radio station Voice of Congo announced: "The
Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) has
gained full control of the situation in Kinshasa."
Leaders of Kabila's alliance, the radio subsequently said, were "in
consultation with political personalities, notably Etienne Tshisekedi",
acknowledged to be the key opposition figure during Mobuto's reign.
Rebel Troops arrived at Kinshasa last Saturday -- home to five million
people -- and restored order after defeated government soldiers had gone on
a looting rampage. President Kabila initially remained in his Lubumbashi
stronghold -- second city to Kinshasa.
Mobuto fled 24 hours earlier, closely followed by the Prime Minister
Likulia Bolongo, putting an end to 32 years of dictatorship. But Mobuto's
army chief General Mahele Lieko wasn't so lucky. His own troops killed him
leavmg the elite 1,000-strong presidential guards leaderless.
Kabila ordered the remnants of Mobuto's army to give up their weapons at
specified locations. He said soldiers surrendering would be "treated well".
The radio broadcast said: "Mobuto has fled in exile. So are the generals. So
who are you fighting for?" Kabila called for "all the forces" to be united
around him to establish national unity and reconciliation.
Despite Kabila's repeatedly broadcast message that criminal acts in the
city would be punished, it was nevertheless clear thats sense of release
from years of poverty and hardship had led many to attack and loot the homes
of the rich. Congolese poor have an average yearly income of $150, while the
country is bursting with rich natural resources.
One Kabila official said that Mobuto's regime of brainwashing had to be
broken. He said: "We must reawaken the population politically. This our
first duty. The aim is to avoid the possibility in the future that any one
man can confiscate power."
Financial advisor of the rebel alliance forces Mawampanga Mwana Nanga,
reaffirmed their pledge to hold elections within a was "definitely" the case
that the President had declared that it would take place "within 12 months".
Speaking of the transitional period to the election, the finance expert
said political figures rather than parties would be represented in the
interim administration to govern 47 million people.
International recognition for President Kabila's triumph has been swift.
Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi announced at a public rally that his
government would accept Kabila's mandate and Tanzania President Banjamin
Mkapa declared his administration will co-operate with Kabila.
The Angolan government expects to establish formal state relations with the
Republic of Congo, and is prepared for friendly relations of co-operation
and development in mutual support to ensure a settled atmosphere ofpeace and
stability inthe region.
South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and other leaders met President
Kabila as part of the long term efforts at a peaceful solution to the
crisis. Mbeki said after talks: "It is important during this transitional
period that the people should enjoy democratic rights and democratic
freedom. The approach of the Alliance to this question", he said, "is indeed
that. It is itself an alliance of democratic forces."
And in Egypt a foreign ministry official said in recognition of Kabila,
that the "people have made the strongest efforts to realise the aspirations
of African peoples for progress and prosperity." Iranian foreign ministry
official Mahmoud Mohammadi hoped the new government would address the
hardships the people had suffered under Mobuto.
The Organisation of African Unity's (OAU) Secretary-General Salim Ahmed
Salim in a message said: "Mr Kabila and the AFDL have won the civil war and
the challenge before them now is to win and consolidate the peace.
New Communist Party of Britain Homepage
A news service for the Working Class!
Workers of all countries Unite!