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DATE=4/16/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43146 TITLE=CONGO FRONT BYLINE=TODD PITMAN DATELINE=KAKUYU, CONGO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: REBELS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TOOK UP ARMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT LAURENT KABILA MORE THAN EIGHT MONTHS AGO. AS TODD PITMAN REPORTS FROM CONGO'S EASTERN VILLAGE OF KAKUYU, THE REBELLION HAS DISRUPTED THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS WHO HAVE BEEN FORCED TO FLEE THEIR HOMES. TEXT: /// SOUND OF SOLDIERS MARCHING AND SINGING -- ESTABLISH, AND UNDER /// REBEL SOLDIERS AND THEIR RWANDAN ALLIES MARCH DEEP INSIDE THE CONGO AT DUSK. HERE IN KAKUYU, A SMALL VILLAGE 12-HUNDRED KILOMETERS EAST OF THE CAPITAL, KINSHASA, THESE SOLDIERS ARE IN GOOD SPIRITS. AS MIST RISES ABOVE LUSH GREEN TREES, THE REBELS WALK LEISURELY THROUGH HUNDREDS OF METERS OF SANDBAGGED TRENCHES DUG IN MUD THAT WERE ONCE A KEY GOVERNMENT DEFENSE. THEY NOW LIE EMPTY, FILLED ONLY WITH ABANDONED BOOTS, HELMETS AND SPILLED MAIZE. REBEL COMMANDERS SAY THEY CAPTURED KAKUYU AFTER A MONTH-LONG SIEGE THAT ENDED IN EARLY APRIL -- A VICTORY THEY SAY HAS HALTED A GOVERNMENT COUNTER-OFFENSIVE IN THE EAST. /// ONDEKANE ACT IN FRENCH -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// REBEL MILITARY COMMANDER JEAN-PIERRE ONDEKANE SAYS KAKUYU WAS HEAVILY DEFENDED BY WELL-ARMED ZIMBABWEAN TROOPS. BUT HE SAYS THE REBELS ENCIRCLED THE VILLAGE AND CUT OFF VITAL RESUPPLY LINES -- ESSENTIALLY STARVING THE ENEMY OUT. COMMANDER ONDEKANE SAYS THE SIEGE ENDED WHEN REBELS SHELLED KAKUYU WITH MORTAR BOMBS, KILLING MANY ZIMBABWEANS AND FORCING THE REST TO RETREAT. FOR THE REBELS AND THEIR KEY ALLY, RWANDA, THE IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVES ARE CLEAR: TO CAPTURE THE DIAMOND-RICH CITY OF MBUJI-MAYI TO THE WEST, AND MOVE SOUTH TOWARD LUBUMBASHI, HOME OF HUGE COPPER AND COBALT RESERVES. //OPT// BUT THE REBELS HAVE MET STIFF RESISTANCE FROM ZIMBABWEAN TROOPS ALONG THE WAY. ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE HAS SENT THOUSANDS OF SOLDIERS INTO THE CONGO TO BACK PRESIDENT KABILA'S ARMY AND EQUIPPED THEM WITH A VAST ARRAY OF WEAPONRY, INCLUDING TANKS, ARMORED CARS, HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS AND "MIG" FIGHTER JETS. THE REBELS AND THEIR RWANDAN ALLIES, IN CONTRAST, FIGHT MOSTLY WITH WHAT THEY ARE ABLE TO CARRY BY HAND. //OPT// THE GOVERNMENT TROOPS WHO FLED KAKUYU DESTROYED WHAT THEY COULD BEFORE LEAVING. THEY FLATTENED TIRES ON VEHICLES AND LAID LAND MINES, BUT MOST LEFT IN A HURRY. MUCH OF WHAT WAS LEFT BEHIND HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE REBELS, INCLUDING TANKS, ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS AND HORDES OF AMMUNITION. //END OPT// THE FIGHTING HAS FORCED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS FROM THEIR HOMES. VILLAGES LIKE KAKUYU, WHERE MANY RED HUTS WITH STRAW ROOFS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED AND BURNED, ARE COMPLETELY ABANDONED, OCCUPIED NOW ONLY BY REBEL SOLDIERS. IN A SMALL, MOSTLY EMPTY VILLAGE 40 KILOMETERS TO THE EAST, ANDRE TOSHEKWA SAYS HE IS LIVING AS A REFUGEE IN HIS OWN COUNTRY, WITH FEW CLOTHES AND LITTLE TO EAT. /// TOSHEKWA ACT IN LINGALA -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// MR. TOSHEKWA SAYS REBEL SOLDIERS CAME TO HIS NEARBY VILLAGE LAST MONTH AND TOLD HIM TO LEAVE BECAUSE THEY HAD TO FIGHT THE GOVERNMENT THERE. HE SAYS MOST PEOPLE HAVE FLED INTO THE BUSH ARE STAYING THEIR TO ESCAPE THE FIGHTING. MANY RESIDENTS SAY THEY ARE AFRAID OF THE REBELS, AND THAT IS WHY THE VILLAGES ARE EMPTY. BUT COMMANDER ONDEKANE SAYS THE REBELS HAVE NO PROBLEMS WITH THE PEOPLE. /// ONDEKANE ACT TWO IN FRENCH -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// COMMANDER ONDEKANE SAYS THE REBELS ARE NOT FIGHTING AGAINST INDIVIDUALS, OR AGAINST A TRIBE OR PROVINCE. HE SAYS THE REBELS ARE FIGHTING AGAINST A POOR SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE PUT IN PLACE BY PRESIDENT KABILA. EFFORTS TO END THE CONFLICT AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE HAVE REPEATEDLY FAILED. IN THE MEANTIME, THE REBELS SAY THEY WILL FIGHT ON. /// NATURAL SOUND OF SOLDIERS SINGING -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// (SIGNED) NEB/TP/PCF 16-Apr-99 11:52 AM EDT (1552 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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