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Date: Sat, 18 Jan 97 23:33:59 CST
From: bghauk@berlin.infomatch.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Rebellion In Central Africa Stings Paris

Rebellion In Central Africa Stings Paris

By Megan Arney, in the Militant, Vol. 61 no. 4, 27 January 1997

Continued instability in Zaire

On January 7, the French government acknowledged that European mercenaries might be operating in Zaire to prop up the government of President Mobutu Sese Seko and his army against rebel forces that have taken over a strip of eastern Zaire.

In an eight-week offensive, the rebels have driven the Zairian army from a 300-mile long and 100-mile wide strip along the borders of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. French aid minister Godfrain told journalists, "There are European mercenaries in the region."

He was responding to a report by the French daily Le Monde that former French presidential guards were recruiting mercenaries to help Zaire's army. Le Monde reported January 7 that Zairian rebels claimed Paris had sent up to 1,000 troops to Kisangani in north eastern Zaire - Paris denied this. According to the French daily, Alain Le Carro, a former lieutenant colonel in the Elyse'e protection unit, is involved in recruiting South African, Angolan, Mozambican, Belgian, and British mercenaries.

After nearly four months on the French Riviera recovering from cancer treatment, Mobutu returned to Zaire December 17. He quickly named a new army chief of staff. Gen. Mahele Lieko Bokungo is a notorious veteran of campaigns to put down several uprisings in the region. Mobutu also formed a 'crisis government' with opposition leaders, retaining the unpopular Premier Leon Kengo wa Dondo. Mobutu left Zaire for France again January 9.

The Canadian government announced December 13 that it would end its intervention plans to central Africa, abandoning a scheme endorsed by the United Nations in November to send 15,000 troops under the auspices of "humanitarian aid," for Rwandan refugees in Zaire. Paris had called for UN intervention, and continued to push for an early action. However, after the UN force was announced, which was to include troops from France, the United States, Britain, and Canada, hundreds of thousands of refugees returned to Rwanda - effectively undercutting the excuse for imperialist intervention.

Paris's former colonies in Africa are not the only areas giving the French ruling class headaches lately. Last November student and worker protests exploded in Cayenne, the capital of Guyane, a French colony on the Caribbean coast of South America.

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