INTRODUCTION President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire has publicly condemned the armed invasion of the country's copper-rich Shaba Province as a 'Soviet-Cuban plot'.
INTRODUCTION President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire has publicly condemned the armed invasion of the country's copper-rich Shaba Province as a 'Soviet-Cuban plot'. Addressing a trade union rally in Kinshasa, the capital, he said the country's territorial integrity was being threatened - but the Zairian army was nevertheless winning the battle.
SYNOPSIS: The rally was staged in Kinshasa's Twentieth of May Stadium by the National Workers Union in support of President Mobutu's stand against the invasion. The situation began early in March when a force of some 1,500 forces led by Katangese militiamen invaded the country from neighbouring Angola. It has since attracted international attention with France, the United States, Morocco and Belgium sending supplies and troops to help President Mobutu repel the invasion.
President Mobutu, who appealed for foreign help, has received wide-spread support. The United States has sent 'non-lethal' military supplies; France has supplied transport aircraft to fly in a contingent of 1,500 Moroccan troops; Egypt has sent a high-level military mission to Kinshasa to discuss providing armed assistance; and Belgium has sent in aircraft and supplies. The Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam of Mauritius, has sent a message of solidarity to the Zairian Government.
President Mobutu, contradicting other reports out of Zaire, said Government forces were repelling the invasion, which was an international plot against Zaire's unity. News reports from the battle area say the invaders have succeeded in establishing control over a large are of Shaba province, formerly Katanga.
Katanga, the richest province in the former Belgian colony, was the focal-point of the bitter civil war in the early 1960's, shortly after independence, when the late Moise Tshombe attempted to break away from the rest of the country. Following his defeat, his loyal Katangese gendarmerie fled to neighbouring Angola.