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Vol 38 No 1

Published 3rd January 1997


Digging in

Kinshasa's talk of a counter-offensive means little as the rebels score strategic victories

The strategic town of Bunia, on the north-eastern border with Sudan and Uganda, fell to rebel forces on 26 December. This was a stinging blow to President Mobutu Sese Seko’s plans for a military fightback. An estimated 200-300 Zaïrean soldiers died during the battle, according to Western intelligence sources. The formation on the same day of a government of 'réconciliation nationale' did nothing to strengthen the President and his Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution. Indeed, the choice of ministers lost Mobutu critical political support from the mineral rich Shaba province. The government’s talk of a constitutional referendum in February and general elections in July (with Western support) grows increasingly fanciful, as the army crumbles in the east.

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