The rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo is spiraling into what could become a regional disaster, as Zimbabwe and Angola pledge to send in guns and soldiers to save Laurent Kabila’s beleaguered regime. Today the rebels, who charge Kabila with corruption and human rights abuses, offered to enter into cease-fire negotiations, even as they said they had defeated government defenders about 90 miles outside the capital.
The surprise offer came just one day after Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe claimed that the 14 nation Southern African Development Community or SADC, chaired by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela has, in his words, unanimously agreed to send in troops. SADC considered the rebellion an invasion of Congo by Uganda and Rwanda, he said.
But almost simultaneously, President Mandela himself said it would only exacerbate the situation to send in troops. And in the end only three other nations —-— Namibia, Angola, and Zambia — agreed to join Zimbabwe in supporting Kabila. Clearly the conflict in Congo is exposing key divisions elsewhere.
- Dr. James Garrett, has just returned from the Congo. He s an attorney, and a visiting Professor at Temple University of African American studies and Philosophy.
- Suliman Baldo, is a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. He specializes in the Republic of the Congo.