June 19, 1997 in Nation/World

Congo Leader Obstructing Probe Of Alleged Massacres, Officials Say

Washington Post
 

Congo’s new president, Laurent Kabila, has told local officials here to do as little as possible to aid a U.N. investigation into alleged refugee massacres by his troops, Western and Congolese sources said.

At a meeting here last weekend, Kabila and other representatives of his Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo warned government officials from Kivu Province, on Congo’s eastern border with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, not to direct human-rights investigators to any mass grave sites or potential witnesses, the sources said.

The sources said Kabila and his new government are under intense pressure from Rwandan and Ugandan security officials to stymie the U.N. probe. Rwandan and Ugandan security forces formed an important part of Kabila’s armed uprising against President Mobutu Sese Seko, who fled into exile May 16.

In exchange for help in toppling Mobutu, Kabila was forced to give those units a free hand in gunning down thousands of Hutu refugees, who had been living in what was then Zaire since 1994, the sources said. The refugees came mostly from Rwanda after radical Hutu leaders masterminded the killing of an estimated 500,000 Tutsis in Rwanda. A Tutsi-led Rwandan uprising drove them out of Rwanda.

The officials, both Congolese and Western, said Kabila held the government meeting in Bukavu because it is the capital of Kivu Province, where many of the massacres are alleged to have taken place.


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