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IRIN chronology (as of 9 June 1999)

The rebellion of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) against the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila was launched on 2 August 1998.

Following is a chronology of significant events since 30 September 1998.

[Please refer to earlier IRIN chronology for events prior to that date]

27 October 1998: Zambian President Frederick Chiluba mandated to press on with peace initiative to end the war, after inconclusive consultations in Lusaka between regional foreign and defence ministers.

October: Growing international pressure on Rwanda to “admit its role” in DRC.

November: New rebel group, the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), reported in Equateur province. Its leader is Jean-Pierre Bemba, son of leading businessman Bemba Saolona who was close to ex-president Mobutu.

6 November: Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame admits Rwandan troops helping DRC rebels, citing security concerns. Reports say he acceded to a request by South African President Nelson Mandela to admit involvement in a bid to advance peace talks.

27 November: Rebels and their backers express scepticism over ceasefire deal reached in Paris between regional leaders involved in the crisis.

24-26 December: Negotiations in Libya. DRC President Kabila and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda hold separate meetings with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

January 1999: Reported massacre in Makobola, South Kivu. Journalists find no evidence of mass graves, despite claims by local residents and missionaries that some 500 people were killed. RCD, accused of reprisal attack against Mayi-Mayi warriors, puts the number at 10 civilians caught in crossfire.

18 January: Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola agree on ceasefire at Windhoek meeting. RCD not invited, but promises to examine text.

22 January: RCD restructures movement. General assembly enlarged from 28 to 147 members, including 22 military personnel.
Executive committee comprises 23 departments, up from eight. Ten-man political council created to head the movement. General assembly urges better cohesion between political and military wings.

30 January: Cracks appear in RCD. Non-Tutsi Congolese members query why Banyamulenge “hold so many posts” in new set-up.
Belgian daily ‘Le Soir’ describes the new “political mixture” in the RCD as “explosive”. RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba reportedly at odds with his deputy Arthur Z’Ahidi Ngoma. Ngoma later resigns as deputy chairman of the RCD, describing its members as “petty puppets”.

End January: Uvira reported tense due to continuing standoff between Rwandan and Banyamulenge soldiers. Trouble began after Rwandan soldiers arrested four Banyamulenge officers, who were later sprung from prison by their Banyamulenge colleagues.

25 February: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in DRC, Roberto Garreton, urges international community to take action against Tutsis detained in Kinshasa, expressing concern for their safety.

5 March: Missionaries claim 100 people killed in RCD reprisal attack at Kamituga in South Kivu. RCD denies the allegations.

9 March: Rebels confirm strategic town of Kindu is under their control.

22 March: Southern African Development Community (SADC) reaffirms support for Kabila, at meeting in Botswana, but expresses concern over continuing destabilisation of the region.

3 April: Kagame vows to keep his troops in DRC as long as Rwanda’s national security is threatened.

5 April: Tensions increase within RCD, as Wamba moves his base from Goma to Kisangani. Disagreement between RCD and MLC in Kisangani also intensifies.

18 April: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kabila sign ceasefire accord in Sirte, Libya, under the mediation of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Both the RCD and Rwanda refuse to be bound by the agreement.

Kinshasa announces national debate to be held in Rome on 30 April under auspices of Sant’Egidio community.

20 April: Kabila announces dissolution of ADFL which swept him to power in 1997, accusing some members of “opportunism” and “self-enrichment”.

28 April: Rome meeting cancelled, and Nairobi announced as venue for national debate from 8-15 May. RCD participation doubtful, as is that of prominent civil society groups in DRC.

3 May: Nairobi meeting postponed to 14 May to allow “further preparations”.

4 May: Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, spearheading peace efforts for the DRC, “agrees to work” with Gaddafi to implement Sirte accord. Rwanda says it only recognises the Chiluba peace initiative. Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania meet in Dodoma to discuss growing rift between Ugandan and Rwandan military campaigns in DRC.

7 May: Outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in rebel-held Watsa possibly due to Marburg virus. WHO confirms Ebola virus not present. First ever flight between Kinshasa and rebel-held territory since the conflict lands in Goma bringing medical experts.

11 May: Over 40 killed and 50 wounded in allied forces bombing of Goma.

The aircraft then went on to bomb Uvira, killing two.

12 May: Rwanda-backed RCD commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane accuses Uganda of seeking to split the RCD and force its members to join Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC.

Kenya announces further postponement of DRC national debate.

15 May: Details of Sirte accord released in which Kabila reportedly agrees to “direct talks” with the rebels. He previously resisted all attempts to meet the RCD.

16 May: Disaffection within the RCD reaches its peak as Wamba ousted, and medical doctor Emile Ilunga announced as the new leader. Wamba refuses to step down, saying he is the victim of a “coup” within the rebel movement. Analysts note the division of the RCD into factions backed by Uganda (Wamba) and Rwanda (Ilunga).

17 May: Kabila’s two years in power marked by lacklustre ceremony and “forced parade”. The main DRC human rights group, ASADHO, notes: “The human rights situation in two years of the Kabila regime closely resembles that of 30 years of the Mobutu regime, only much more worrying and ominous”.

23 May: Rival RCD factions clash in Kisangani, with at least four soldiers reported dead. Rwanda and Uganda meanwhile deny reports of a split.

26 May: Chad, which supported Kabila, withdraws troops from Equateur province “in line with the Sirte agreement”.

29 May: Rwanda declares unilateral ceasefire in DRC.

2 June: Uvira again bombed by government forces, and Bukavu airport also targeted. Bombs fall on nearby Kahuzi Biega national park.

3 June: RCD issues statement explaining Wamba’s leadership style had resulted in a “series of crises” within the movement. It announces new structures, including a congress, council and an executive with the latter two headed by the same person, Emile Ilunga. They had previously been headed by different people. The general assembly no longer exists, but the institution decamps to Kisangani announcing support for Wamba.

7 June: Journalists confirm Kabila’s hometown of Manono, in Katanga province, under rebel control. Rebel commander says town will serve as a “hub” for the capture of Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi. About one third of DRC (in north and east) under rebel control.

8 June: Rebel factions meet in Uganda, along with Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, to try and iron out differences and form a united front against Kabila.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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