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DATE=4/23/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43212 TITLE=REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: AFRICA / PEACEKEEPING BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA DATELINE=LOHATLA, S-A CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: TENSIONS ARE HIGH IN THE EMBATTLED SOUTHEAST AFRICAN ISLAND NATION OF "NARALAND" WHERE ARMED REBELS OF THE "MANANCA RESISTANCE MOVEMENT" ARE HARASSING U-N PEACEKEEPERS AND JOURNALISTS. BUT NOT TO WORRY. V-O-A SOUTHERN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT ALEX BELIDA, ONE OF A GROUP OF REPORTERS WHO VISITED "NARALAND" THIS PAST WEEK, REPORTS IT IS ALL JUST A SIMULATION -- PART OF THE BIGGEST PEACEKEEPING MILITARY EXERCISE EVER STAGED ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT. TEXT: /// SOUNDS OF "REBELS" HARASSING U-N CONVOY, FIRING SHOTS INTO AIR - FADE UNDER /// THE REBELS, SOME OF WHOSE FACES WERE MENACINGLY WRAPPED IN CAMOUFLAGE NETTING, MOVED IN ON A U-N CONVOY CARRYING JOURNALISTS IN ARMORED VEHICLES AS IT HALTED AT A CRUDE ROADBLOCK ERECTED BY THE MANANCA RESISTANCE MOVEMENT IN CENTRAL NARALAND. ALTHOUGH THE REBELS FIRED SHOTS INTO THE AIR AND HURLED VERBAL INSULTS, NO INJURIES WERE REPORTED AMONG THE U-N TROOPS OR REPORTERS AND THE CONVOY, AFTER REPORTING THE INCIDENT, EVENTUALLY PROCEEDED. /// RADIO COMMUNICATIONS SOUNDS - FADE UNDER /// BUT SOON AFTER THE U-N VEHICLES ARRIVED AT THEIR FINAL DESTINATION AT A U-N OBSERVATION POST AND CHECKPOINT IN NARALAND'S DEMILITARIZED ZONE, ANOTHER CONFRONTATION WITH THE M-R-M REBELS OCCURRED. /// SOUNDS OF REBEL CONFRONTATION WITH U-N TROOPS - FADE UNDER /// A GROUP OF REBELS DEMANDED TO PASS THROUGH THE U-N ROADBLOCK WITH THEIR WEAPONS. U-N TROOPS SAID THEY COULD PASS ONLY IF THEY ABANDONED THEIR ARMS. /// MORE SOUNDS FROM CONFRONTATION - FADE UNDER /// AFTER A TENSE MOMENT, THE REBEL LEADER ENTERED THE U-N COMPOUND TO DISCUSS THE MATTER. AS THE TALKS WENT ON, THE OTHER REBELS GREW IMPATIENT /// MORE CONFRONTATION SOUNDS - FADE UNDER /// EVENTUALLY, THE REBEL LEADER RETURNED AND THE M-R-M GROUP DROVE OFF, REFUSING TO GIVE UP THEIR GUNS. /// REBEL LEADER ORDERS GROUP TO DRIVE AWAY /// /// HELICOPTER SOUNDS - FADE UNDER /// WHILE THE INCIDENT WAS VERY REAL, IT WAS ALL JUST PART OF A PEACEKEEPING TRAINING EXERCISE CALLED "BLUE CRANE" -- STAGED AT THE SOUTH AFRICAN ARMY'S BATTLE SCHOOL AT LOHATLA, IN A HOT, DRY AND REMOTE DESERT AREA OF NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE. WITH MORE THAN FOUR-THOUSAND SOLDIERS FROM 11 SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL AFRICAN COUNTRIES TAKING PART, IT IS THE LARGEST SUCH TRAINING MISSION EVER HELD ON THE CONTINENT. IT WAS ORGANIZED BY S-A-D-C (SAA-DECK), THE SOUTHERN AFRICA DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY, WITH SUPPORT FROM THE UNITED NATIONS, VARIOUS HUMANITARIAN GROUPS, AND SEVERAL FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS, INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES WHICH PROVIDED TWO C-130 CARGO PLANES FOR THE OPERATION. THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE BEEN PRESSING AFRICA TO DEVELOP ITS OWN PEACEKEEPING CAPABILITY AND THE SCENARIO REFLECTS REAL SITUATIONS FROM REAL PEACE MISSIONS. BUT SOUTH AFRICAN GENERAL ANDRE BESTBIER, DIRECTOR OF THE EXERCISE, SAYS NO ONE SHOULD SEE "BLUE CRANE" AS THE LAST STEP BEFORE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PERMANENT S-A-D-C PEACEKEEPING UNIT. /// BESTBIER ACTUALITY ONE /// I DON'T THINK IT IS AT ALL POSSIBLE AT THE PRESENT MOMENT. THERE'S STILL A LOT OF THINGS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO SUCH A DEPLOYMENT /// END ACTUALITY /// GENERAL BESTBIER ALSO SAYS NO ONE SHOULD READ ANYTHING INTO THE SCENARIO INVOLVING INSERTION OF A U-N PEACE FORCE BETWEEN RIVAL PARTIES IN A SMALL AFRICAN COUNTRY. FICTIONAL NARALAND IS JUST THAT -- A MAKE-BELIEVE CREATION OF THE EXERCISE PLANNERS. BUT THE MYTHICAL COUNTRY'S PROBLEMS ARE ALL TOO SIMILAR TO THOSE IN ACTUAL COUNTRIES ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT -- RIVAL ARMED GROUPS, WEAK CENTRAL GOVERNMENT, A WEAK ECONOMY AND FAMINE, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, WEAPONS-SMUGGLING, AND A FRAGILE CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT. STILL, GENERAL BESTBIER SAYS IT HAS BEEN A SUCCESS. /// BESTBIER ACTUALITY TWO /// THE EXPERIENCES WE'VE HAD WITH OUR S-A-D-C FRIENDS, THE COOPERATION, THE ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS EXERCISE, I THINK IS EXCELLENT. WE'VE REALLY ACHIEVED OUR AIM. /// END ACTUALITY /// THE COST OF THE EXERCISE, WHICH ALSO INCLUDED NAVAL MANEUVERS OFF SOUTH AFRICA'S COAST AT DURBAN, IS ESTIMATED AT MORE THAN THREE-MILLION DOLLARS. (SIGNED) NEB/BEL/JWH 23-Apr-99 12:02 PM EDT (1602 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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