Congo's war: its players and their roles

Rwanda: Rwanda invaded congo on Aug. 2, 1998, to topple Laurent Desire Kabila. Rwanda said President Kabila harbored the forces that carried out the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and had since set up bases in Congo to launch raids into Rwanda. The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) has advanced steadily along the central and southern fronts, capturing Congo's second-largest city, Kisangani, and progressing toward Mbuji-Mayi. With its ally Uganda, Rwanda now controls half of Congo.

UGANDA: Like Rwanda, Uganda justified its military presence in Congo with its need to clear the border area of anti-government rebels.

CONGO: Kabila was brought to power in May 1997 by Rwanda and Uganda to replace Mobuto Sese Seko, Congo's 30-year dictator who allowed anti-Rwandan and Ugandan rebels to operate from Congo. When Kabila himself continued to allow the same rebels to operate within Congo, Rwanda and Uganda decided to topple him.

ANGOLA: Angola stepped in on the side of Kabila last August for fear that, once in power, Rwandan-and Ugandan-backed forces might prove unfriendly. After blocking Rwanda's assault on Congo's capital Kinshasa, Angola has kept a diminished military presence in the west of Congo.

ZIMBABWE: President Robert Mugabe sent in troops last August to help Kabila. Observers have interpreted his intervention in Congo as a sign of his desire to re-establish his influence, long eclipsed by Nelson Mandela in South Africa, as an elder player in African politics. Zimbabwe also has an interest in Congo's diamond wealth. Its troops continue to fight in eastern Congo.

NAMIBIA: Namibia also intervened in the fighting in August, citing concern over Rwanda's and Uganda's disrespect for Congo's territorial integrity. But because its presence is so light, 2,000 to 3,000 troops - Namibia's impact on the fighting has been small.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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