INTRODUCTION: Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko flew into Shaba Province on Saturday (32 April) to brief his military leaders in the fighting against rebel insurgents.
INTRODUCTION: Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko flew into Shaba Province on Saturday (32 April) to brief his military leaders in the fighting against rebel insurgents. Foreign observers say the visit was also designed to prove to the outside world that the fighting's not an internal uprising, as alleged by the Soviet Union, Cuba and neighbouring Angola.
SYNOPSIS: President Mobutu flew his own aircraft most of the way to Kolwezi, a mining town in the copper-rich province and prize target for the guerrilla soldiers. He was greeted by thousands of cheering people in a ceremony which combined military formality and traditional African hospitality.
The crowds chanted 'our guide, our faith' and waved banners saying President Mobutu was safeguarding Zaire's national integrity.
Basically, President Mobutu was making an on-the-spot assessment of developments where his troops -- with their Moroccan allies -- are engaged in a counter offensive against the rebels, said to have crossed from marxist-ruled Angola. Shaba was formerly Katanga, and some of the rebels are thought to be ex-Gendarmes of the secessionist state formed briefly during the 1960s under the late Moisi Tshoube.
Among those to greet the President at Kolwezi were some of the Moroccan troops. On Monday (25 April) they helped Zairean troops recapture the town of Mutshatsha which lies on the rail link between Kolwezi and the Angolan coast. Official sources say the recapture of the town would provide a major psychological boost for the government forces.
After his welcome, President Mobutu chaired a meeting of regional military commanders in Kolwezi. A four-man military delegation from Uganda also attended. Uganda's President Idi Amin called on President Mobutu the day before and pledged to send troops to help him if necessary.
President Mobutu has accused Mozambique, Cuba, Angola and the Soviet Union of supporting the rebels in various ways. All four countries have denied the charges.