Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beyond the ICC Decision to Release Callixte Mbarushima


Beyond the ICC Decision to Release [FDLR[1] Secretary] Callixte Mbarushima

[adapted by CM/P from the original French op/ed by Eugene Shimamungu for the Source de Nile Newletter 37]

Could the ICC’s decriminalization of the FDLR set a legal precedent?

At the end of this week, while Paul Kagame was celebrating his high-mass, the “Umushyikirano,” a sort of phony Rwandan national chat, which is really just a Kagame stand-up cheered on by his suck-ups, themselves too scared to ask any real questions, the ground seemed to open up under the dictator’s feet.

In the same week, the ICTR freed Anatole Nsengiyumva of the Military I trial, and agreed to a reduction in the sentence of [Col. Théoneste]Bagosora, who is no longer charged with intent [or planning] to commit genocide. And at the same time, more good news, though bad news, no doubt, for Paul Kagame, came out of the ICC: Chamber I refused to uphold the charges against [FDLR Secretary] Callixte Mbarushimana and ordered his release. Shame on Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, and intense rectal pain for Paul Kagame!

It was Kagame, himself, who had sensed the impending storm! During the Umushyikirano, after having upbraided the loveliest [sic] of “foreigners” (that being the American [UN Ambassador] Susan Rice) who had recently given him lessons on democracy, Kagame complained about the turn of events at the ICTR, that the Bagosora trial had lasted too long (17 years by his count) to have born such pathetic results. Here we must understand “the results that did not satisfy him.”

Because since the notion of “the brains of the genocide” fizzled out, the Tribunal has not been able to find a “planner for the genocide” and has had to make do with “taking judicial notice” of this genocide by now so well-known to the public, a genocide stitched out of whole propaganda, which has not been proven by the evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, but instead sanctified by the media. This has turned out to be a minimization unto a negation by this same Tribunal of the acts of genocide committed in the period between April and July 1994. The notion of “the brains of the genocide,” supported by the expert ‘blancs menteurs’[2] of every stripe, who have made a lot of hay from, but are having a lot of trouble being clear about this judgment, has gone a long way to make people forget that Bagosora was, by law, innocent until proven guilty. Kagame’s great fear is that justice is liable to find him to be the real planner of the genocide and turn on him to pay his unimaginable debt to bleeding Humanity.

And here’s where the ICC issued a Press Release on 16 December 2011, according to which the charges against Mbarushimana were not upheld and the decision was taken to release him: the Court was moved to this decision especially by the fact that “the evidence bearing on substantial motives was insufficient to make the Court believe that Callixte Mbarushimana could be held criminally responsible” for the crimes against Humanity charged against him by the Prosecution. And the cherry on top: “the Court concluded that there was insufficient evidence of substantive motives to believe that crimes against Humanity had been committed by the soldiers of the FDLR”! All of this is obviously subject to appeal by the Prosecution or by the Defense!

If this decision is upheld, what effect will it have on trials in progress?

The flagship trial is obviously that of Victoire Ingabire. Charged with aiding and abetting terrorism (as an accomplice to the FDLR) and entertaining genocide ideology, there is no hope that the Rwandan judges in Kagame’s clutches will take notice of the ICC decision. It is also unsure whether the charges in this indictment, which could be a double-edged sword, even if Kagame’s power joins in with the former FDLR cadres, like the famous General Rwarakabije, Ingabire’s jailor (Director of Prisons in Rwanda) in her current lock-up, prison “1930,” to diminish if not eliminate the rebellion! It is in this way, too, that power has corrupted all the former or false FDLR to testify against Victoire Ingabire. In the end, this collaboration between the power in Kigali and the FDLR is a backdoor corroboration of the ICC decision. One could even claim that the confusion created by the power in Kigali on this subject will end up decriminalizing the FDLR.

Another trial that the whole world has forgotten is pending in Germany against Ignace Murwanashyaka, president of the FDLR, and his collaborator, Straton Musoni. Their lawyers have been able to use this ICC decision with success, and their clients have a good chance of being released in the next few days. Even if you consider that the responsibilities of the President, who knows the terrain very well, are not the same as those of his Secretary Mbarushimana, who has never set foot on it.

Eugene Shimamungu

©www.editions-sources-du-


[1] Front Démocratique pour la Libération de Rwanda.

[2] Literally ‘white liars’, an allusion to Pierre Péan’s magnum opus on Rwanda, “Noire fureurs, blancs menteurs”.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chapter 16 of Pierre Péan's "Carnage: The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa" [translated from the French by CM/P]




















[It has taken quite a while to finish the translation of this chapter 16 of Pierre Péan’s huge book Carnage: The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa. These Secret Wars seem to have kicked up their intensity a notch and dialed down their secrecy quotient—a less cute way of saying it would be that the wars in Africa and the Middle East and Eurasia, etc., have gotten a lot hotter and a lot more out in the open.

The near-eradication by NATO forces (and the Western financial and commercial interests for which they kill) of the infrastructural and political advantages (e.g., The Great Man-Made River, The All-Africa Telecom Satellite, development of the African Central Bank and Monetary Union. . .) created for the Libyan population by The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the revolution led by Muammar Gdaffi that made Libya the most developed country, with the highest standard of living and the greatest practical democracy, in all of Africa, is the sort of real Crime against Humanity—made the more grotesque with its ‘celebration’ by the Walmart revolutionaries of Occupy-WETFE and their fear-addled Liberal Comicocracy stylists (Stewart, Colbert, SNL and, once my fave, Tosh.0, all giggling and gaggling at the bloody sodomic gang-murder of a 70 year-old genuine revolutionary—and under a white flag at that!—was unspeakably craven, beyond pathetic and below contemptible)—the type of crime that has been unknown since the last illegal aggression against a popular government: say, Afghanistan’s, Iraq’s, Syria’s, Lebanon’s, certainly Iran’s, not forgetting Sudan’s, Yugoslavia/Serbia’s and Rwanda/Congo’s.

So, what was once to us the indescribable horror of a human holocaust has become our daily bread. Bon appétit. And with each passing day that found this translation unfinished, the events out in the world have just made the subject of Péan’s work more and more pertinent.

In the earlier translation of chapter 6 of Carnage, posted here at the beginning of the year, we learn that North Africa, like the Near- and Middle-East, has long been a profound security zone for Israel. But in chapter 16 we see that the need for sustained military violence and the general wasting of material and human resources in Africa is as essential to the economies of The Great Powers of the West as it is to that of the plucky little ‘US aircraft-carrier for Democracy’ tucked off between ‘terrorist’ Gaza (Hamas), ‘terrorist’ Lebanon and Syria (Hezbollah), and ‘Islamic extremist & terrorism-sponsors’ Iran and Egypt. Again, the sweaty discussions over who the ‘real terrorists’ are, and, between the US and Israel, who is the tail, who the dog, and who’s wagging whom, are shown merely to be another exercise in academic arm waving.

After all, Capital knows no nation; and Waste Capital leaves none standing. Please accept this our unholy Holiday gift for 2011 to all of our old friends in the Old World and our new friends in the New World in the (dis)spirit with which it is given. If luck has it—and the Mayans got it wrong—there will be more of this material right here in 2012. –mc]

***************************

Pierre Péan

Carnage: The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa
[translated from the French by CM/P]

Chapter 16

--American troops take part in hunting down Hutus, and France, finally, just lets them do it. . . .


“My only regret is not having been able to
exterminate all these millions of people
who got away from us in 1994.”

—Paul Kagame,
at the thirteenth anniversary of the genocide.
____________________

I put in a lot of time before beginning this chapter. I didn’t know how to put it together. There were piles of books and files on my desk. The blood that dripped from them clouded all reason. Following the through line that connects the events in this story I was trying to tell—the mass slaughter of Hutus, the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and then, once more, the massacre of Hutus, to which the thousands of dead at Kibeho served as a mere comma—, I came to a critical stage, the arrival in Kivu of those soldiers sent to close down the camps for “genocidaires.” But how does one describe such a military operation when all the descriptions that already exist are only an accumulation of bloodbaths, the slaughter of defenseless human beings, the piles of lifeless women and children all said to be genocidaires, hundreds of mass graves, and the whole thing going down under the neutral gaze of UN representatives, and the cameras of CNN only later recording it all to show just what Washington would let them show? Why were so many diplomats, so many American soldiers and secret agents, mobilized to speak to their embedded journalists about a situation that they could not directly figure out? Because that great power, the “In God We Trust” USA, with all its satellites, its wire taps and call intercepts, its helicopters and planes, helped the so-called rebels—who were in fact, for the most part, Rwandans and Ugandans—to locate these genocidaires so they could be liquidated. Yes, Washington bears a heavy responsibility for what was described in an early UN report as a probable genocide[1] . . . How can one not be repulsed by the passivity, by the willful solicitude of the HCR with regard to these exterminators[2]? How can one rest easy, or achieve that distance needed to write, how can one keep from screaming in the face of such horrors in which we are all implicated? How can one accept the propaganda of the period, which would have us believe that the Hutus only got what they deserved, and that the Tutsis, in giving it to them, were only exercising their legitimate right to revenge? While the official version of this history, that version received and accepted by the International Community, was—and still is—totally false?

When I went back to look at my documentation, I found two people I could consider to be ‘good guys’: Juan Carrero, a Mallorcan, and Emma Bonino, the European Commissioner.

Carrero is a believer in non-violence who places St. Francis of Assisi and Gandhi at the top of his pantheon. Much affected by the Liberation Theology of Don Helder Camara, he says he is “indissolubly linked to Evangelical Spirituality.”[3] After seminary, some study of theology and philosophy, he became a hermit, but kept questioning himself about the best way to help those who suffer. Rather than do his military service under Franco, he asked to work in an alternative social service, and spent four years with the Indians in the north of Argentina. With others, he reflected on the methods of non-violent opposition to war and other conflicts and spoke of the vicious cycle that so often blocks the best intentions:

It doesn’t move because no one starts it, and no one starts it because the job is
too immense.


To break this cycle, he believes that, as with the “butterfly effect,” modest actions and, with a reference to the Gospel of St. John, the weight of Truth can change History. And thus, working out of a Majorcan NGO, he got involved in what was happening in Rwanda in 1994. From the beginning, he expressed real sympathy for the Tutsis of the RPF. So, at the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996, he was in Rwanda and Burundi. In the little village of Niyabikere, he observed that, in just a single day, the RPF soldiers killed more than 100 women and children. This shocked him enormously! On returning to Spain, he realized that no one knew anything about this massacre. The media, when they brought up the situations within Rwanda and Zaire, spoke only of the militias and the ex-Hutu soldiers continuing the mass slaughter. Growing more and more aware of the complexity of the circumstances, and being persuaded that there was a conscious denial of the killings of Hutus, killings that were of such magnitude as rightly to be considered a new genocide in the making, he organized a Peace March from Barcelona to Geneva to raise interest among influential Europeans in the problem. It was a failure; this action had only a tiny effect. At the beginning of 1997, he organized a hunger strike in Brussels that lasted 42 days, while the Hutu refugee camps in the East of Congo were being bombed.

Magda Aelvoet, co-chair of the European Greens, told him confidentially:

There is a very elaborate plan to invade the East of Congo. The US has given its consentto the Hima-Tutsi regimes of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The Americans are only insisting on two conditions: that there be no excesses either in the expansion of the borders of the territory under invasion, or in Human Rights violations.

Juan Carrero received support from 19 Nobel laureates and nearly the whole of the European Parliament, most notably, from its President, the Spaniard, Jose Maria Gil Robles. Within this action, Juan Carrero had the opportunity to meet Emma Bonino, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, and he was among those who heightened her awareness of the fate of Hutu refugees in the camps of Kivu[4] . . .

In February 1997, accompanied by TV cameras, Emma Bonino went to Zaire to meet with Rwandan Hutu refugees. On her return to Brussels, she accused Laurent-Désiré Kabila of having turned the East of Zaire into a “veritable slaughterhouse”. During a press conference, she stated:

Massive Human Rights violations have been committed within the territories controlled by the rebels.

She spoke of “incomprehensible carnage.” She also accused the neighboring countries, especially Rwanda, of “doing nothing to stop these activities, and even encouraging them.” She also discussed the UN investigatory mission into the massacres committed in Zaire, which was blocked in Rwanda, then called for action on the part of the International Community, which could no longer remain silent.” In a report on her mission, she wrote:

I went to Zaire to meet those people who do not exist or, more precisely, who did not exist. Those same people whom the biggest of bigwig Generals from the most powerful Armies were not able to locate with their radar, and, thus, the world’s capitals, so very well informed, declared that they all had returned to their home countries. These people who don’t exist and who now re-exist, coming out of the forests in an ghastly state [. . .]. I had the feeling of coming back from hell [. . .]. I hope that the 200,000 refugees, who have not yet been located, are still alive, somewhere in the forests, and that they will reappear. But it is also quite possible that they are all dead [. . .]. I saw children’s skeletons at the time of my last tour of duty, and especially over these last two years, I saw many refugee camps and, believe me, in the case of the camps, the sight was unbearable, below any level of human dignity. . .

The words of Emma Bonino brought me back to those of Gracchus Babeuf that called the attention of future generations to the life and crimes of [Jean-Baptiste] Carrier, in the autumn of 1793, in the region around Nantes:

My countrymen! . . . So you feel the need to preserve the memory of the price paid toerase all those acts that the History of barbarism has passed on to you [. . .]. Oh, Posterity! By the same token, you must not bare before your gaze those facts that might remain happy if you were but to ignore them, by considering only the good that is in your memory and the satisfaction, not recognizing the cowardice with which we have suffered for far too long the gutting of our brothers by those horrific butchers endowed by us with dignity[5].

A great deal of the testimony of survivors, of Humanitarian Aid workers, and of journalists, allows us to draw images from these words[6] . The strongest are probably those of Marie Béatrice Umutesi, found in her Fuir ou mourir au Zaire[7], where she describes the torturous journey of the refugees thought to be génocidaires. She survived a ten-month odyssey over more than 2000 km to Mbandaka, on the banks of the Congo. She recounts how, in November 1996, the operation to close the refugee camp at Mbandaka and force the refugees to return to Rwanda was mounted:

A few days before the destruction of Mugunga, a mission of American soldiers passed by. With the aid of megaphones, they told the refugees to take advantage of their presence to return to Rwanda, because after they left it would be too late. It was after this that we saw the mass movement back to Rwanda. The only way out of the area that was not blocked was the one that led to Rwanda. . . . Put in a situation where the choice was between returning to Rwanda or dying under rebel gunfire, many chose the former.

Marie Béatrice Umutesi speaks also of the two months she spent in the camp at Tingi-Tingi, “the death camp,” before its destruction by RPF soldiers. She describes how the refugees reacted to hearing the Voice of America, the BBC and the RFI:

When they speak of Rwandan refugees, when they finally accept that we still exist, journalists are interested only in the presence of militias in the camp at Tingi-Tingi and of the recruitment of former members of the Rwandan military by the Zairian Army. About our daily lives, about the hell that we lived through after the destruction of the camps in the east of Zaire, about the horrible deaths of those who were lost in the forest, about the massacres carried out by the rebels . . . not one word! Only Emma Bonino. . . .

Of the 500,000 or so Rwandan refugees who, by mid-November, had been returned to Rwanda, most of them by force, were they in better shape than those who stayed in Zaire?

A large number of them were murdered, others imprisoned, and still others disappeared in secret internment centers, losing all their worldly possessions, their property and equipment.[8]

A UN report submitted to Kofi Annan on 30 June 1998 confirmed the scale of the mass killing of Hutu refugees, even if the investigators, led by Roberto Garreton, were not able to finish their investigation: they were stopped by Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The UN Secretary General wrote to the Security Council about certain of the report’s conclusions:

“The killings committed by the AFDL and its allies, including elements of the Rwandan Army, qualify as crimes against humanity,”

stressing that the investigators

“think that certain murders could qualify as acts of genocide depending on the intention that brought them about.”

The investigators revealed that, in fact, if the attacks carried out inside the camps of North-Kivu in 1996 were even partly intended to compel the refugees living there to go back to Rwanda,

the circumstances under which the attacks against the camps inside the country were carried out in 1997, especially the ‘clean-up’ operations undertaken after these attacks and mass killings of people who were trying to cross the border of the Republic of Congo, show very well that the intention was to eliminate the Rwanda Hutus who remained in Zaire. A possible interpretation of this phase of the operation led by the AFDL, with support from Rwanda, is that it was decided to eliminate that part of the Hutu ethnic group as such. If this is verified, it would constitute and act of genocide.

This term “genocide” was obviously untenable for all—journalists, politicians and members of organization in defense of Human Rights—who, over the years, had made Paul Kagame their hero, the man who put a stop to the Rwandan Genocide. Although, at the time his report was submitted, Garreton had carefully asserted that only 150,000 to 180,000 people were killed in six months, he was forgotten, and, along with him, his report was tossed into the dumpster of this bloody history[9]. After all, were these dead not just the New Nazis who got what was coming to them? At any rate, hundreds of thousands of victims would not sully Kagame’s “success story”, which was being glorified in most of the media. We had to wait until 27 August 2010 for Le Monde, which had, since the departure in 2005 of its Africa hand, Stephen Smith, made Kagame’s vision of the Rwandan tragedy its own, to cover its front page with a new report from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (HCHR) estimating that “the systematic and generalized attacks [against the Hutu refugees in the DRC] show several shocking elements that, if proven before a competent court, could qualify as genocide.” However, the French daily did not mention that since 2005 a panel of inquiry by the Spanish Judiciary had been looking at these very same events in the ex-Zaire; or that, on 6 February 2008, the Spanish Justice Fernando Andreu Merelles had issued arrest warrants against 40 of Kagame’s closest collaborators for crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against Humanity.

The UN report, actually a preliminary report, described, for example,

. . . the systematic, methodical and premeditated nature of the attacks against the Hutu, that were carried out everyplace the AFDL/APR found them within this vast expanse of territory.
. . .

The chase went on for months and, oft-times, the humanitarian aid destined for these refugees was purposefully blocked, notably in Orientale province, depriving them of the very basic necessities for their survival.


The authors do not hesitate to point out that if Kagame had allowed thousands of Hutu to return to Rwanda, this did not permit, “in itself, to set aside the intention to destroy, in part, the ethnic group as such, and thus to commit the crime of genocide.” Leaking the report in the press was meant to counteract Kigali’s strategy to suppress its publication. Le Monde made note of a letter, dated 5 August 2010, from the Rwandan Foreign Minister to the UN Secretary General, in which is demanded “a reconsideration of various earlier engagements with the UN, especially in the realm of Peacekeeping,” in the event the report “should be published or leaked to the press.” These “engagements” refer particularly to the deployment of 3,300 Rwandan troops to the UNAMID in Darfur, the joint UN and African Union mission. Ban Ki-Moon took this threat very seriously and warned the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, against the use, in the final version of the report, of the word “genocide” to describe crimes committed by the Rwandan army. At the time of this writing, September 2010, it is still too soon to know who will win the arm-wrestling match between Paul Kagame and the rest of the world. But the commentators have changed their tone. . . .


If, in 1996, as the Rwandans and Ugandans were sprucing up their gear to go into Zaire, Mobutu had not given sufficient importance to the situation, it was because he was blinded by the name ‘Kabila’, his old nemesis: “I knew Kabila. He’s nothing but a small-time smuggler[10],” he thought. Nonetheless, he quickly asked the French to intervene. The Africa desk at the Élysée palace explained to him that, because of the campaign of disinformation mounted against Operation Turquoise, it would be impossible for France to initiate any kind of military intervention. It would be even less possible for the government in Paris to ignore the fact that any such operation, appearing to be an action to save the old “Guide,” would never be accepted by the Americans, who in 1991 had already made it known to Mobutu that he had to step aside—his time was up.

The scene was played out aboard the presidential yacht, the Kamanyola. Melissa Wells, US ambassador to Kinshasa, addressed herself to the man in the leopard-skin pillbox hat, demanding he pick up the pace of work at the National Sovereignty Conference[11]. The President responded that he did not answer to Washington. Wells shot back with:

The era where we needed you is over; the Cold War is finished; you no longer have the means by which to blackmail us; and you no longer have your friends in the White House to cover for you. If you choose not to follow our plan for democratic change, we will force you from power. We have ways of doing that.[12]

Mobutu quarantined Ambassador Wells and eventually forced her to leave Zaire; Washington replaced her with Dan Simpson, a specialist in matters of destabilization, who some years later contributed to Mobutu’s leaving Kinshasa. . . .

The French Secret Services—the DRM and the DGSE—were quite well-informed as to what went on along the Kivu border at the end of October, the beginning of November (1996). The camp at Kibumba, in the Goma region, was bombarded: some 200,000 refugees headed out for the camp at Mugunga. The camp at Katale was attacked with heavy weapons, and Kukavu, the capital of South-Kivu, was captured by the “rebels.” The surrounding camps were destroyed, sending 250,000 people fleeing through the equatorial forest toward Kisangani. . . .

Military officers and the intelligence services were not satisfied with the satellite images furnished by the Americans, which showed no signs of the refugees; these pictures did not correspond at all with the information that was coming in to them off the ground from numerous human sources. At the beginning of November, a Bréguet Atlantic reconnaissance plane spotted groups of refugees and transmitted photos of two US Blackhawk helicopters.

French spies were questioned about the role of the Green Berets in the massacres that took place after the taking of Bukavu at the end of October 1996. They were also asked about the origins of the nighttime aerial machine gun fire against the refugee camps:

That poses some serious considerations when you know that among the American aircraft used was at least one C-130 gunship from the Special Forces, a veritable flying gunboat, armor-plated and equipped with a 105 mm canon, rockets and machine guns, capable even of dropping mines. What was it doing there if, as the American Commander would have it, it was only searching out the refugees to study ways to bring them aid?[13]

Despite this questioning of Washington’s ambiguous role, no one, either from the French Army’s General Staff or any French politicians, could imagine such an action taking place without the Americans, or, especially, against them. But the “serious degradation of the humanitarian situation” led all of them very quickly to see a multinational military operation in Kivu, or, at least, to put out that idea. The Centre opérationnel inter-armées (COIA) [Inter-army Operations Center] is charged by the Chief of Staff to define the possible plans. On 5 November a note signed by Jean-Pierre Kelche, a Major General on the General Staff, landed on the desk of Defense Minister Hervé de Charrette:

While waiting for an eventual political settlement to bring about some lasting regional solutions, the major effect of a military operation in Kivu was aimed at stabilizing the refugees in a zone separated from the constituent forces.

The note’s authors thought the participation of European countries (France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the UK) indispensable, but stressed that

. . . a centralized command (pre-established) had to be offered to the Americans, whose presence on the ground would guarantee the neutrality of the Rwandans.

And led the authors to suggest that if the Americans shared a command center in Goma with the French, they could be responsible for different zones: Around Goma, for the French; around Bukavu, for the Americans.

The military action would be limited to the securing of zones, to the benefit of humanitarian organizations.

General Kelche saw a deployment of 1500 to 2000 men at a cost of between 400 and 600 million francs (ca $80-120 million). The next day, during a limited meeting of the Defense Council, Jacques Chirac accepted the proposal of the COIA and insisted on the involvement of the Americans, that is to say:

France would intervene if the Americans came in with their people on the ground.

And as to either the French or American nationality of the Operation’s Commander, the president had no preference. After the political and media fiasco that was Operation Turquoise, it was out of the question for France to jump into such an operation alone. . . .

Immediately after this limited Defense Council meeting, French diplomats and military officers talked things over with the Americans. A high-ranking officer on the General Staff contacted EUCOM (European Command, which, before the initiation of AFRICOM, was the American General Staff in charge of the African theatre and based in Stuttgart). In the afternoon of 6 November, a meeting, presided over by General Thorette, took place in the sub-basement of the Ministry of Defense at COIA headquarters, in what is called ‘La Cuve’ or ‘the Cistern’. Taking care and awaiting the response of the Yankees, a limited and discrete plan was undertaken, but it had, nonetheless, to be accompanied by a political move:

The idea that must motivate this plan is to get the British involved so that the Americans will follow suit.[14]

Knowing that the game was never won before the first move, General Regnault was put in charge of convincing “the Brits.” The General Staff did not forget that “British instructors accompanied the Tutsi RPF’s surprise offensive in Rwanda at the beginning of 1993.[15]”

The Franco-British political calendar worked out just right for Jacques Chirac to convince John Major to support the French proposal. In fact, the 19th Franco-British summit was scheduled for 8 November in Bordeaux. From the beginning of the meeting, the two men made public a declaration in which they said they were “decided” on the “close coordination of their efforts [. . .] rapidly to put together an international mission statement” for Kivu. In a BBC interview, John Major did not exclude British military participation. But the French quickly saw that the Americans, despite some ‘bonnes paroles,’ were already running a different play. Though in Stuttgart General George A. Joulwan promised to make available some giant cargo jets, the C5 Galaxies, to project, if necessary, French men and materiel into Kivu, the American partners refused to put their own boots on the ground there. So, Paris and Washington were already well into their game of Liar’s Dice. And while, on the ground, the Rwandans, Ugandans and Americans, were fully conscious of waging an indirect war against Paris, the contacts between military officials and diplomats in Washington, Paris or Stuttgart were made with the greatest conviviality.

From the evening of 7 November, the French General Staff began studying “the most restrictive hypothesis” in case “the Americans continued to refuse coming in on the ground”: “The French saw themselves compelled to make a quick engagement, playing the role of the leader-nation.” In the file of 8 November, cited above, the authors were well aware of the “significant political and military risks” of taking this position of leader-nation. If France were to go into Kivu alone—without the Americans—the military officials foresaw the installation of a rear-base at Kisangani, about 500 km northwest of the zone of engagement. Despite everything, the French officers were still banking on an “Alert” for the 11 and 12 November, knowing that notes from the DRM [French Directorate of Military Intelligence] showed that the humanitarian situation in Kivu was degenerating dangerously.

Some European officials tried to raise the public consciousness on this issue. Emma Bonino, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Action, and Aldo Ajello, Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region from the EU, redoubled their calls for the deployment of a multinational force built around a core of the French, Belgian and South African militaries. Jacques Chirac, as we saw, was on board with them. Le Monde of 8 November 1996 recapped the situation:

France is having trouble convincing the UN of the urgency of an intervention into Zaire.

This trouble was due to the leaders of the coalition and their principal sponsor, Washington, not wanting the French to come back to the region and work against their plans. But Paris thought it still had the upper hand. A confidential note (MEET 60 REF 56/RW/INT FR), found several years after the fact[16], describes how the French actions were seen by the Rwandans and Ugandans:

France is trying to send troops to Zaire by invoking humanitarian concerns. This must be refused. The last meeting with the British and American came down against the deployment of French troops. The French Foreign Minister, Hervé de Charette[17], is expected to announce this plan sometime before 15 November 1996, if we can believe the information coming from inside the French government. France has plans to aid the Hutu by training and arming them. This seems to us very dangerous.

So as not to have to butt heads with France, Washington cleverly put together an operation that would bury the French project without its ever being considered by the International Public, giving little or no reporting on what was happening in Kivu: It consisted in asking Canada to put a force together, to assemble the elements and make up the rules [of engagement]. . . .

In the evening of 8 November, the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, proposed a humanitarian intervention in the east of Zaire. And he had the sack to claim that he had come up with the idea all by himself! As usual, things went on quickly from there. Chrétien convinced some States of mid-level importance to back him up, and, on 14 November, the Security Council approved the formation of a 10,000-man force to be led by Maurice Baril, the Canadian General close to Romeo Dallaire and sharing of his scorn for the French, with no less a reflexive affinity for the Americans.

So began the great brouhaha of a diversion. A meeting of ‘planners’ from 26 countries was convened at NATO headquarters in Stuttgart to do a feasibility study of a multinational force in that area to be commanded by the US and Canada. The ‘Board’ had already decided on the possibility of leading a humanitarian mission to bring food to the starving Hutu population. General Baril consulted with the governments of the Great Lakes region and decided to set up his main headquarters in Entebbe, his advanced headquarters in Kigali, and his rear-guard headquarters in Stuttgart. This single decision is loaded with significance: General Baril showed that he wished to work in perfect harmony with Kagame, Museveni and the Americans stationed in Rwanda, especially with the media information team and the psyops groups running the organization for the repatriation of refugees. What is more, Washington anticipated that, if this force eventually came together, its troops would be under US command. For their part, Kigali and Kampala carried on an intense lobbying campaign to block this intervention force, and even more adamantly refused to allow any French presence in its ranks. Thus, we will see how Alison Des Forges and Roger Winter, among others, defended the autonomy of Laurent Kabila’s AFDL, the “enemy of both genocidaires and Zairian officials”[18]. . .

French political and military figures were not very quick to pick up on the fact that this operation, mounted by Chrétien on orders from the Americans, was meant only to bury Chirac’s project and give the US, along with their Rwandan and Ugandan puppets, a free hand in the Great Lakes region. For a few days, the General Staff believed that the deployment of a Franco-British force under Canadian command in the area south of Kivu had been accepted. As evidence of this, a reconnaissance mission was put together by the British military, under the command of Brigadier General Thompson (Royal Marines), with three French officers directed by Colonel Philippe Tracqui, then the #2 at the Centre Opérationnel de l’Armée de Terre [{Land} Army Operations Center] (COAT), with its offices in the “Cuve”: Beginning on the day the UN Security Council approved the principle of a 10,000-man force headed by General Baril, this mission was set in motion heading toward Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, from 14 to 19 November! From the start, Tracqui and his two mates understood that something was not right. In the evening of the 14th, at the RAF base in Brize-Norton, while the French mission was asking about the appropriate uniform for their trip to Africa, Tracqui was told that it would be civilian clothes. The next morning at the departure point, the media were all there, but they said nothing about the three civilians in the midst of all those uniformed British troops. Once arrived in Nairobi, General Thompson coldly told the French that they could not go into Kigali. After very difficult discussions, which included an intervention by the French ambassador to Rwanda, only Colonel Tracqui was allowed to set foot in the country of a thousand hills.

The Tracqui Report of 21 November raises the final questions on the role that had been accorded the French in the Great Lakes region and on their anti-American strategy. It notably describes the meeting of 18 November between Thompson and the American General E.P. Smith, who was, on paper anyway, the assistant to General Baril, but, in reality, was the headman of the whole operation. Tracqui wrote: “The Americans are all, in fact, opposed to a military action in South Kivu.” Then he goes on:

It appears obvious to us that in the first part of the mission Thompson received precise orders to cut us out of any reconnaissance about Bukavu and that the British never had any intention of setting up in that town, but rather just installing themselves at Cyangugu, within Rwandan territory. It was, however, extremely embarrassing for us to be treated in this way. It might have been that the British saw themselves as part of a dynamic duo with the Americans, which would explain their quick flip in attitude after the Thompson/Smith meeting, which must have made them certain that the Americans felt they were strong enough, from then on, to act alone and cut out all the other participants in this multinational operation.

Commenting on Thompson’s support of the proposition made by the Canadian Raymond Chrétien[19], on the need to review the UN mandate prioritizing a Humanitarian operation, Col. Tracqui saw the possibility for some negative spin: “It’s a propaganda campaign with regard to the French, because elsewhere he had declared that he was still in favor of a military operation.” Thompson gave Tracqui a memo from General Smith, issued from Entebbe on 16 November, which revealed the American position.

For 24 hours, the situation was well in hand, everything was going fine in Goma, and the nature of the Humanitarian needs had changed. While it was still not possible exactly to determine the total number of refugees who were going to return home or those who intended to do so in the next several days, it is clear that, at this time, there is no longer a Humanitarian Crisis that would justify an emergency military action.

And the American General wrote this without asking for any supplementary means.

But what was General Smith referring to when he said that the situation had changed in the last 24 hours? To the complete lock-down of the enormous camp in Mugunga? It was during this lock-down that the American military personnel made their appearance, according to Béatrice Umutesi’s[20] account of the events. And on the afternoon of 14 November, when the camp closure went into effect, a group of refugees headed out toward the Rwandan border, and the thoroughly prepped cameras of CNN, fronted by Christiane Amampour[21], were able to film these refugees.

As Béatrice Umutesi tells the story:

The only way-out of the camp not blocked by the rebels was the one that led to Rwanda. Even if, here again, they controlled the movements of all these people and could separate out whomever they wanted and kill them, they let the great majority of these refugees go. At all the other camp exits, they shot anything that moved. Facing a situation where they had to choose between returning to Rwanda or being killed by rebel bullets, many chose to return. Everyone knew there was a real danger in going back home, but they believed it was their last chance to survive. And there’s a Kinyarwandan saying, “It’s always preferable to die tomorrow than to die today.” Some families held meetings to decide who should go back to Rwanda and who should try to slip through the rebels’ net. In many cases, it was decided that it was better for the women and children to return home because they ran a lower risk of being killed or tossed into prison once they were back in Rwanda. Those who chose to try the impossible and look for a way out toward Sake, Walikale and Kisangani, were usually intellectuals, people who had held important jobs in the Habyarimana government, former politicians, students, former militia members, or former Army personnel. Certain women decided to follow their husbands even though the men would have preferred to see their women return to Rwanda and leave them with greater freedom of movement. According to several witnesses, on the road back home, many men were led by the rebels to the camp at Lac-Vert, where they were killed and their bodies thrown into the lake. A few weeks after the destruction of the camp at Mugunga, Humanitarian NGOs claimed they dug up 6,700 bodies. Those who chose to continue their flight left camp Mugunga in the middle of the night so as not to be seen by the rebels who surrounded the camp, and to leave silently so as not to attract their attention.

These are the conditions that made General Smith say the situation was “under control.”

The day after the airing of lovely CNN pictures showing Hutu refugees returning to Rwanda, Jean Daniel, in Washington and at the other end of the French political hierarchy, was able to take full measure of American cynicism. On that day, France’s great editorialist met with M.E. Korkblum, the Assistant US Secretary of State. He reported the words of the American Secretary:

France? We want very much to hear what they have to say. Chirac? Good guy. We like him. But: 1) no question of keeping Boutros-Ghali; 2) no question of keeping Mobutu. Our allies in Europe are the Germans. The British? Unconditional up to Blair . . . Let’s take another look in six months, you tell me if I was wrong. Be careful with Africa: France has it all wrong. The strongman is in Uganda, not Kinshasa.

On leaving this meeting, Jean Daniel reflected: “Such appalling precision in his cynicism, and such arrogance in his language.[22]”

The evening of 16 November 1996, in Entebbe, General Smith held a planning meeting at which several non-American liaison officers were present, among them Lt-General Pouly of the French DRM. Pouly was able to add to the information furnished by Thompson to Tracqui. Being well aware of the situation on the ground, he knew the scene General Smith was describing was false. Pouly took a chance and spoke out, after which General Smith proposed to bring Rwanda into the multinational force, and even to make this merger retroactive. The French general also noted that Smith’s analysis of the situation placed no particular importance on the 700,000 refugees there or the 300,000 displaced from South-Kivu. Smith replied he did not “give a shit” about these refugees, and that his problem was concentrated in Goma. In his report, Philippe Tracqui, commenting on Smith’s words and, figuring that it was impossible for the American General to to be so naïve as to believe sincerely in what he had written and said, Tracqui judged that this was “nothing more than the final phase of an already established scenario aimed at turning this region into a ‘terra Americana’.”

The Number Two at COAT also reported to the Army Chief of Staff all the information furnished by General Pouly, France’s leading military specialist on the African Great Lakes region. On 17 November, the day after the meeting organized by General Smith in which Pouly took part, “a new American planning team arrived, to rid the Command Post of all non-American or Canadian LDs (liaison detachments), by completely cutting communications with them and setting them up in locations that were without radio transmission.”

Pouly was convinced that “the Americans present in the Great Lakes region, who were mainly either diplomats from Kigali or military people isolated in Entebbe, did not want anyone else in the region.” He pointed out “the existence in Kigali of a large, 50-strong, US military cooperation mission. It was in charge of training the RPA, instructing them in mine-removal, psychological-operations training by specialists from the 4th Battalion out of Fort Bragg, especially as concerned the propaganda connected with the organization of the ‘returning refugees’.” The French spy learned that “the American psy-ops teams had been in place and working out of Kigali for the past three months.”

Looking at the CNN film, one noticed that “many of the ‘returning refugees’ who were interviewed had the stature and fine features of Tutsis.” Pouly learned that “the Canadians were there merely to give the Americans credibility when referring to their multinational operation. Moreover, they had received a serious bitch-slapping on Sunday, 17 November, when, on landing in Kigali to set up their Command Post, the Canadians were forbidden by the Rwandans from carrying their personal weapons and were forced to leave them on the airplane.”

So, Colonel Tracqui wrapped thing up:

Because of a media move focused on Goma with the intention of separating out other countries, the Americans seemed bent on giving the Rwandans (Tutsis) total free rein to set up a Rwandan cultural buffer zone in Zaire, around Lake Kivu (a sort of Lebanon-south).

He saw a situation where France would have to decide not to lose interest in the fates of the 700,000 refugees from South Kivu, to whose numbers must be added the 200,000 to 300,000 displaced Zairians, just to hold on to its long-term influence in this region. There would then be two possibilities: the first, to lead a joint operation with the British, who would pose no great problems on the military scene, but he explains right away why this solution had little or no chance of being picked up:

Mrs. Linda Chalker, the British Foreign Minister, was totally pro-Tutsi, the British officers knew that from then on they would have little chance of getting a green-light from their government for a military intervention;

the second, an operation from Kisangani led by the French alone,

which would be easily carried out (with a helicopter operation followed up by a steady ground assault), but [such an operation] would surely alienate the entire International Community if it were not accompanied by an intense campaign of media diplomacy. In either case, it would needs be done with the greatest of speed, because the US Army/CNN strategy had a very good chance of bringing about, in no time at all, a modification of the UN Resolution.

The French desire to come to the aid of the Rwandan refugees was snuffed out in its infancy, much to the relief of the US, Rwanda and Uganda. It was not until 12 December 1996 that Raymond Chrétien informed the Security Council that the multinational force was no longer necessary. He explained it to the media:

Upon the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution, Kigali activated the rebels in eastern Zaire, who then attacked the refugee camps. The militias fled, which freed the refugees.

An eye-witness told the 10 March 1997 issue of Libération:

Are we to believe General Baril when, in mid-December, he stated that there were no more Rwandan refugees in Zaire, because he had spent a half-day on the road to Masisi, in a Tutsi-rebel officer’s vehicle, and he had not seen a one? This declaration, which closed the file on the Multinational Force, would bring about the deaths of thousands of them. Could he have been ignorant of this?

Obviously not. In an interview with Robin Philpot[23], Raymond Chrétien confided:

There was a small part of the problem taken care of, the tip of this Humanitarian iceberg. But there was an enormous part that was not. There were many who headed for the forests, and they were probably killed after that. A million dead! We don’t talk a lot about that. But there is an international consensus that 500,000 refugees went back home. After that, there was no longer any political will to deploy the International Force.

No political will? Except for France’s, which was quickly smothered.

Left without credibility by all the Rwandan and US psy-ops carried out by the multitude of Western flacks for Rwanda and most of the media, including a goodly number of French ‘friends’, France was unable to do anything to stop the organized massacres of Hutus. To hunt down and kill these Hutu refugees was looked upon as a sort of public service, because it was considered the elimination of suspected genocidaires, otherwise known as the New Nazis[24]. So France paid and has continued for some time to pay for its support of the legitimate and recognized government of Juvenal Habyarimana, for its Operation Turquoise, as well as for the hated image of its African policies, created by all those, inside and outside the country, for one reason or another, who fought against its positions in Africa. The massacres were able to continue after the unceremonious interment of the Multinational Force.

Colonel Tracqui and Lt-Colonel Pouly understood perfectly well at the time what was going on. Since 1996, the discussion had become more and more open, and certain files had been opened that completed the picture of this tragedy as it was playing out.

Some leaked secret notes[25] of the Ugandan and Rwandan Secret Services showed an even more prominent involvement by the British and Americans. The means applied to this job were enormous. An ultra-modern network of spy satellites (Intelligence Communications Network), covering everything from Kigali to Brazzaville, for the purposes of collecting, evaluating and reacting to all information, in French and all the local languages, was employed in the interests of the Americans, the British and the Ugandans.

In fact, the Americans were not holding back on any of their capabilities. The document titled OR OP REF/UG/RW/67 specifies:

We are here to meet with 40 US military officials who have come to hear us explain our position regarding the on-going operations in Zaire. In a few days, this contingent will leave here for Kigali. Their principal mission is preparation for sending US troops to ensure that the situation on the ground is secure, and to see to it that word of any mishaps does not get out. They will pose direct questions to the greatest possible number of local officials. They will be counting on your careful attention and cooperation.

These American friends decided to get even more involved:

The American friends have agreed to send troops to the Italian base in Vincenza. We are expected to prepare the ground to allow them a risk-free landing. The High Command of the DMI [Rwandan Military Intelligence] has given instructions to proceed with all necessary preparations. Kayihura, with his contingent of plain-clothes military police, will work with the 250 officials assigned to this preparation. . . .

American planes were specially deployed to track the Hutus who were hiding in the forests (REPORT 678 REF 567/JL/RW/UG):

It was decided that the Americans would send three P-3 ORION PROPELLOR PLANES to Entebbe. They would operate during daylight hours from Entebbe to Zaire, looking for Hutus hiding out in the forests. The planes were equipped with three devices [In reality, these were three specialists assigned to operate some 50 computers] meant to track the movements of people on the ground.

Another note concerned the night-use, for the same tracking purposes, of jets armed with 105 mm canons.

The US Navy’s EP-3s were well known for their effective collection and identification of electronic signals, especially radar signals, and the interception of communications, especially radio conversations. They are also capable of identifying the radar signals used to guide surface-to-air missiles. And they are equipped to send out false messages.

Thought up by Paul Kagame, the attack plan and the destruction of the Hutu refugee camps in the former-Zaire were presented to the Americans to sign off on, as is shown in one of these notes (PLAN 67 REF67/JL/RW/ZR):

The plans for attacking the Hutus in eastern Zaire were finalized. October and November 1996 were the best months for the operation. The UN would be busy with the next deliveries of food-supplies, and we will sabotage this process. Kagame’s plans are very practical, the RPA will carry out this operation, but will receive support from Ugandan forces, if need be.

A crisis meeting between Ugandan and Rwandan missions was held (CRUSUS 80/L REF 78/RW. DOC) where the modus operandi was laid out for an attack mounted by 30 Rwanda soldiers disguised as Hutu militia:

It is necessary to liquidate the Hutu Interahamwe in the east of Zaire. We have penetrated the refugee camps at Katale and Kahindo. We have helped Rwanda carry out operations intended to force the UN to close the two camps. Operation: 30 RPA soldiers appearing to be Interahamwe will launch an attack against the Zairian locals. We will proceed to destroy their property. A similar armed attack will be carried out during the night in Rwanda. The Rwandan government will then have to complain to the UN. If the UN is slow to react, a previously unannounced operation will be conducted with the purpose of wiping out all the Hutu militia in the camps. The annihilation operation is approved without objection.

Another meeting (CRISIS 70 REF RW/ZR780) demonstrated that the process for passing off Rwandan troops as Interahamwe militia was currently in use:

The Mugunga refugee camp in Zaire demanded particular surveillance. Hutu militias were active right under the noses of the HCR. In a letter to UN employees last month, officials claimed they had no knowledge of this. We rushed 150 troops to pose as refugees in order to investigate what was going on in the camp and to join up with militias, as planned.

Acording to Béatrice Umutesi[26], the Mugunga camp, located about ten km from Goma, was attacked and destroyed between 15 and 17 November. It was home to about 500,000 refugees, a large number of whom were forcefully returned to Rwanda. The rest fled into the forests of Zaire, where they were tracked and often slaughtered by coalition soldiers.

A secret Rwandan note[27] stated that steps would be taken to counter the UN Resolution that authorized the sending of food and medicines to the Hutu refugees:

We are going to do whatever it takes to make sure this Resolution does not pass, because it implies that the International Community is present on the ground, and this impedes our operations. We still have not confirmed our position to the American Embassy in Kampala.

Another crisis meeting called for an immediate confrontation to prevent the Interahamwe from establishing itself:

The plan calls for the capture of Goma, which has been a food distribution center from which the International Community is getting food to the Hutu. If we can sabotage these deliveries of food, medicine and potable water, the Hutu will flee into the forests, where we have already set up positions, and our soldiers can take them out. Or else, this will force them to return to Rwanda, and then we can quickly set up a precise examination to find all those who are wanted.

If this American sabotage of the Multinational Force caused some bitterness in Paris, the Élysée did not lose interest in the dramatic situation of Hutu refugees. The French administration asked its military to take all necessary measures to find out what was happening in the forests of Kivu. After flying a Bréguet Atlantic throughout the month of November 1996, the French authorized the use of a DC8 Sarigue, a reconnaissance aircraft capable of listening in on numerous conversations from a multiplicity of radio frequencies. The information obtained by this “aéronef à oreilles” (‘ear-planes’) that flew over eastern Zaire between December 1996 and February 1997 revealed a new strategy put in place by the Pentagon, much more elaborate and sophisticated than what had been described in the early analyses of the French military:

>The first strategy called for furnishing the latest generation of portable radar capable of guiding aircraft and directing an anti-aircraft system.

>A Rwandan transmitter linking the various units fighting in Zaire was located.

>Communications between US aircraft and US Special Forces on the ground were intercepted, as were the communications among INMARSAT[28] briefcases of Ugandan, Rwandan, American and UN officials, and US authorities.

>Targeted ’Wires’ were set up, especially on missionaries; thanks to the powerful Intelligence research capabilities of the French DGSE, through the use of ‘key words’, an over-all vision of the refugee situation, and the American involvement in it, was established.

A note from February 1997[29] recapped earlier files and set forth that . . .

. . . deliveries of uniforms and transmitting equipment, through Uganda, were made and officially acknowledged by the American administration in meetings on Zaire held in Paris and Washington between the US and French diplomatic, military and intelligences services, as early as December 1996 [. . .]. Arms and ammunition were delivered on regular flights into Goma, observed between October and November 1996.

These flights were made by C130 Hercules and C5 Galaxy cargo planes under US colors. A US helicopter attack was even mapped out for a location 800-900 km inside the country. Some ‘rebel’ prisoners were found to be holding five crisp, new $100 bills, a sum equal to their monthly salary.



When Mobutu returned to Kinshasa in December 1996 after his convalescence, his army was a reflection of his country: in total disarray and fleeing before these so-called ‘rebels’. The naming on December 18 of General Mahélé to be the head of the Army, however much respected he may have been by his troops, did not change a thing. Zaire’s military power would come from a method that had served it well in the past: a call for mercenaries. But, here again, this search was far-flung and led to the recruitment of soldiers from such different backgrounds that they did not speak the same language or use the same weapons. Several Zairian efforts at staffing its military were addressed to various mercenary networks of divergent interests.

In Paris, the bureau directed by Michel Dupuch was opposed to the indirect support of mercenaries. But this would not keep the DST from discretely lending a hand in the hiring of Serb mercenaries and the shipment of Russian helicopters out of Marseilles. And the ‘Pasqua network’ got in on this action, too.

François-Xavier Verschave and his Association Survie [Survive] was very careful not to discuss the role of the US and its back-ups in the war in Kivu, pretending to believe that those mercenaries engaged to protect Mobutu were sent by the French government. The reality is complex and tells quite a different story:

Geolink, a French company specializing in satellite telephones, had previously been under contract to the Zairian Army, actually wrote to Fernand Wibaux[30] offering to send him 111 Serb mercenaries. The lack of any response from Foccard’s second was taken as an acceptance of the offer, and Geolink went on to receive a great dealof unofficial assistance from the DST.

Verschave probably did not know that, at this time, Fernand Wibaux was under very tight surveillance—but, clearly, he was aware of the order from Michel Dupuch.

In mid-March 1997, during the taking of Kisangani, a certain Domonic Yugo, was to become known for his cruelty: he tortured two evangelical pastors and committed some ghastly murders. The DGSE, which tracked the efforts of the Zairians and their friends, identified him:

He could have been—using another alias—one of the Serbs who acted as an intermediary at the time of the “mission” into Bosnia, led by Jean-Charles Marchiani, prefect of Var, in December 1995, to bring back the two French pilots whose Mirage 2000 was shot down over Pale [the Bosnia Serb capital] while on a bombing raid for NATO.[31]

This time, the mercenaries retained by Zaire were not able to save a sick Mobutu or to protect his nation from invasion. On 20 June 1997, Prime Minister Léon Kengo wa Dondo ordered the retaking of the country, but the Zairian troops gradually all fled before the advancing rebels. Their push into Zaire drove hordes of Hutu refugees deeper into the country and was accompanied by numerous massacres. The US held firm to its position vis-à-vis the Hutu and, by the end of January, had reduced even further its aid to the refugees. Even with Mobutu out of power, Washington wanted to impose a civil war economy on Kinshasa and even further to destabilize the region[32]. To do that, there was but one solution: find an honorable exit for the agèd Maréchal.

To this end, negotiations were organized in late February 1997, in South Africa, under the aegis of the US. Mobutu’s Special Security advisor, Honoré Ngbanda, led the Zairian delegation, and he describes this episode:

The principal representatives for the US were Under Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose and, his eventual replacement in that position [and current US ambassador to the UN], Susan Rice.

Since Bill Clinton’s arrival in the White House, Ms Rice played an important role in the turmoil that was visited on the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. In charge of Africa at the National Security Council, she unconditionally supported Museveni and Kagame, while seeking to topple al-Bachir in Sudan.

The two Americans seemed to be speaking for the AFDL[33], that is, for the coalition of armies from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Eritrea, Angola and Chad
[34].

During a break, George Moose confided to Honoré Ngbanda:

“Why are you wasting your time with discussions that will serve no purpose? Our decision is irrevocable. Our timing will not change. And you will not be able to put this war off for even one more day. Each movement of your troops, each acquisition of war materiel by your government, is being tracked in the smallest detail, photographed by our satellites and communicated to our units on the ground.”

The negotiations ended in failure . . .

At the same time, however, the catastrophic situation of the Hutu refugees was getting worse. Emma Bonino speaks of ‘carnage’, of ‘butchery’, of a ‘killing floor.’ For a few weeks, and in the greatest secrecy, some people at the highest levels of the French government were looking at putting together an all-French military operation to aid the refugees and to bring an end to the Rwandan-Ugandan onslaught supported by Washington and fronted by Laurent-Desiré Kabila. While chairing a meeting of the Defense Council on the subject, Jacque Chirac, along with his Defense Minister, Charles Millon, became very excited by the idea of leading a second “Operation Kolwezi”—like the 1978 French military incursion led by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing[35]—and ordered a feasibility study on such an intervention into Kivu.

Millon was swayed by French officers who no longer had any stomach for the violent charges launched against them after Operation Turquoise and all the set backs from that Rwandan affair. Dominique de Villepin, Secretary General of the Élysée Palace, who still had the Rwandan file around his neck, encouraged by Robert Bourgi, his shadow advisor, as well as by Fernand Wibaux, both of whom supported Mobutu, wanted to break with the ‘Khmer noirs’. Not everyone at the table shared Millon and de Villepin’s enthusiasm. Prime Minister Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette, and African advisor to the Élysée, Michel Dupuch, were not in favor of such an intervention, figuring that the isolation of France on the African stage, as well as in the world at large, especially by the damage from the political and media attacks over the Rwandan troubles, made it impossible. But President Chirac gave it the green light. . . .

The French Army Chief of Staff initiated a study on the feasibility of an intervention into Kivu. It was headed by General Jean-Philippe Douin, who had an excellent knowledge of the situation in Kivu thanks to the DRM [Directorate of Military Intelligence], directed by General Bruno Elie, with input from Lt.-Col. Pouly. Once again, the Inter-Army Operational Center (COIA), located in “La Cuve”, coordinated with the Inter-Army Chiefs of Staff for Operational Planning (Emiapo) based in Creil.

The first meeting took place in Creil on 3 January. The objective left no room for ambiguity:

The Order: The reconquest of Kivu by France—With or Without Opposition from Rwanda and Uganda

Initial proposals were made by General Paillard. The goal of the mission was to take Kisangani and there install the main base of operations. The ENI (i.e., the enemy) was defined as “Rwanda and Banyamulenge.” Much of the meeting was dedicated to the situation of the refugees, the NGOs that brought them aid, the need to secure them, and the possibility of the ENI’s use of these refugees. The question of an alliance with the mercenaries was raised. The obligation, more or less, to involve the Zairian forces was also discussed.

Two military options were presented at that first meeting. Col. Paillard first spoke of a “one punch” operation, which involved the risk of a retaliatory attack from the Rwandan and Ugandan forces, as well as of a “loss of face and credibility.” Then, Paillard spoke of a progressive operation, more certain, but longer and more costly. A subsequent meeting to follow up on these reflections was scheduled for 8 January 1997. A plan for the possible use of Mirage fighter jets and attack helicopters out of Bangui was also prepared. The DGSE was also mobilized. Its chief, Jacques Dewatre, was ordered to send by special plane—and obviously in secret—a team to “sweep” the terrain and infiltrate the fighting forces around Kabila. . . .

To appreciate the excitement experienced by Chirac, Millon and de Villepin, one must bear in mind the Franco-American context of all this. The American ‘Kool-Aid’ was getting harder and harder for the French to swallow. By the end of 1996, Chirac had effectively lost his battle with the US over the retention of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, aka ‘Frenchie’, as Secretary General of the UN. Among their objections to BB-G, the Americans just could not stomach his support of France during the Rwandan troubles, especially of Operation Turquoise. Bill Clinton let it be known to his French counterpart that the US would use its veto if Chirac continued his support.

Paris also lost another battle over its reintegration into the NATO command structure, a position de Gaulle had abandoned in 1966. In January 1996, France even announced it would discuss nuclear questions with its allies. For Chirac, there was no doubt that this return had to be made with head held high, but that was not to be the case. On the suggestion of Army Chief of Staff Jean-Philippe Douin, the French had asked for an important military command, that of the “south flank”, that is, the command of those NATO forces that would intervene in the Mediterranean. The Americans’ refusal was scornful and implacable, and, just to put the boot in, was accompanied by media campaign that was especially painful for France[36]. These insults came on top of America’s obstruction of all the initiatives—or of the effects of the initiatives—made by Paris in the Great Lakes Region, while the eyes and ears of France were watching an American military involvement that was not supposed to exist.

General Elie was gathering evidence of the Americans’ involvement. In some communications[37] he was even able to find proof that the Clinton Family, itself, had certain personal reasons to support Laurent Kabila. Jean-Raymond Boulle[38], Chairman of American Mining Fields (AMF of Hope, AR) and an important Kabila supporter[39], has had very close ties to the former president and first lady. In 1987, then Arkansas governor Bill Clinton authorized Boulle to work an old diamond mine that had been converted into a State Park. Boulle was a guest at the White House for President-elect Clinton’s inaugural[40]. . . . These notes from military intelligence showed that Baroness Chalker, then British Minister of Foreign investment and a close personal friend of Yoweri Museveni, was involved in a virulent propaganda campaign against the French. Lady Chalker is such an unconditional supporter of both Museveni and Kagame as to have even tried to legitimize the massacre at the Kibeho refugee camp in 1995[41]. . . .

In the end, during the meeting of the second Defense Council[42], President Chirac announced the cancellation of the operation in Kivu. Had Charette, Dupuch and, especially, Juppé, succeeded in convincing the President of the damages that such an operation might cause France in the existing international climate so unfavorable toward Paris? There was nothing else for them to do but step in. The US, and, most likely, Bill Clinton, himself, increased the pressure on the French to cancel this operation, which the Americans had surely gotten wind of, and which they knew might lead to a confrontation between ‘Red’ and ‘Green’ berets[43]. Jacques Chirac was notably less talkative about caving-in to his advisors:

“Charles, I couldn’t explain it to you, I can’t explain it to you: the Americans didn’t want it.” He told his Defense Minister Millon, who replied,

“I’ve set everything up. There are already guys down there!”

“Well, then, just take it down. . . .”


The Defense Minister was then obliged to dismantle the whole operation. First off, the COAT had to change its plans, and the Mirage fighter jets had to be relocated. But then, at the level of the DGSE, unraveling the operation was even more delicate as the infiltrations had already begun. The Chief of Services asked the Defense Minister expressly if he could “use any means necessary to get his people out.” The answer was “Oui.” A special DGSE plane took off from Cercottes (Loiret) for Goma. Two days later it returned to France, and Jacques Dewatre announced to Millon: “Mission accomplished.”

Despite these setbacks, the French government continued to try to come to the aid of the Hutu refugees. But everything they attempted was seen either as a way to keep Mobutu in power or an effort to exact revenge against Kagame. In this atmosphere, when, in the beginning of May 1997, Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette stated that Maréchal Mobutu “is, today, without question, the only one capable of contributing to the solution of the problem” of the territorial integrity of Zaire, he just fueled this cynical argument.

Jacques Chirac sent the French Secretary of State for Humanitarian Action, Xavier Emmanuelli, to Zaire to try, once again, to make the argument for relief of the refugees’ suffering. “Something must be done to help them right away, or these people are going to die,” he said on Monday, 10 March, in Kinshasa, after a forty-eight hour visit. He had gone to Ubundu, on the right bank of the Zaire river, upstream from Kisangani, where some 160,000 refugees were gathered in a make-shift encampment after fleeing Tingi-Tingi when that camp was invaded by coalition rebels in the first days of March.

Immediately, Jacques Chirac went to his Council of Ministers and made “a formal appeal to the International Community that it meet its responsibilities by bringing necessary pressure to end the fighting and set up a most urgent Humanitarian Intervention into Zaire.” In Le Monde[44], Claire Tréant described the atmosphere in which this French debate was taking place:

An appeal made on 11 March by Jacques Chirac to the International Community . . . had little chance of being heard. It was the sort of thing that would reignite the criticism, which has for months been thoroughly discussed in much of the English-language press, against the ‘hypocrisy’ of French policies. In fact, while everyone is standing by, waiting from one day to the next for the fall of Kisangani to those rebel forces hostile to Kinshasa, to suggest the establishment of a logistics base for a military operation, however Humanitarian might be its objectives, was, for France, just another way to place itself under all manner of suspicion. It will seem like another attempt to stop the advance of the rebels toward the gates of the capital of Upper-Zaire and to fly to the aid of a regime that is in total disarray and for which the fall of Kisangani would be a death-blow.

And the Tréant article in Le Monde goes on to say:

This reading of events cannot be totally erroneous, and Paris cannot hide from it. By calling for an end to hostilities, President Chirac was, among other things, clearly expressing his desire to save Kisangani from rebel attack. But, while there was a tactical interest for France in its call for a Humanitarian operation, it does not make its intentions to relieve suffering any less real. But most of its partners not only did not want to acknowledge the existence of this suffering, they challenged this reality with such a denial of evidence as has seldom been seen in a drama of this magnitude. “France is looking to provoke a discussion on a situation that does not exist,” stated the Dutch Minister for Cooperation, Jan Pronk, a few days before the French Secretary of State for Humanitarian Action would verify the situation, last weekend, from the actual spot where thousands of people had gathered after fleeing the camp at Tingi-Tingi in early March.

A few hours after Chirac’s appeal, Kofi Annan’s office confirmed that the UN Secretary General had been unable to convince the Americans and the British of the appropriateness of a Humanitarian operation in Zaire, and so it was pointless to continue bringing up the matter in the Security Council.

Having yet to meet with any resistance, the rebels got to the outskirts of Kisangani, the capital of the huge Orientale Province, which, for Laurent-Desiré Kabila, was the last hurdle before Kinshasa

Kisangani fell on 15 March 1997. The road to Kinshasa was now wide open for Kabila. This was truly the end of what Survie called Françafrique. Even François-Xavier Verschave, at that time the president of the organization and the co-creator of this concept[45], had to recognize that the fall of Kisangani . . .

“stood a good chance of being to French neo-colonialism what Diên Biên Phu had been to French colonialism: a signal of the end. As symbols shape History, so can we expect a ripple effect, shock waves into the whole Francophone ‘pré carré’, beginning with the Central African Republic and Congo.”

It is certainly a strong symbol, made all the stronger by the death of Jacques Foccard occurring just two days after the fall of the Upper-Zairian capital.

The opposition to any intervention against Laurent-Desiré Kabila and his Ugandan and Rwandan sponsors was right to push for isolating France. Even within the Francophone African countries, its friends, France was totally alone. An African diplomat questioned by Le Monde, who wished to remain anonymous so as not to bring heat down on those close to him, stated:

It was hard to find a single country that, out of sympathy for French diplomacy, still supported the ideas coming out of Paris. What support there was seemed exceedingly timid. The fall of Kisangani marked the end of an era that began with Jules Ferry, the end of imperial policies, the end of French influence in Africa.

The editorial in the 18 March 1997 Le Monde, titled “Triple French Failure”, pointed up this watershed:

Even before the announcement of the fall of Maréchal Mobutu Sese Seko, the rout at Kisangani had already marked another defeat, that of French policies in Zaire. A Triple Failure: of ambition, of method, and of morale.

The definitive tone of this editorial expressed generally a unanimous condemnation of French policies in Africa; but the piece said nothing of the important part played by disinformation, and the secret confrontation between France and the US on the African continent that largely contributed to this condemnation. France was made to pay for its ‘support’ for Juvénal Habyarimana, the chief of the ‘evil tribe’, and for its Operation Turquoise, which was, however, the only military action to have saved Tutsi lives. The Americans made themselves totally heroic in supporting the ‘good guys’, the Tutsi. . . .

But French intelligence did not fall for the illusion when they noticed, then reported on, communications from US Special Forces who were aiding the Rwandan military in its hunt for the Hutu—a campaign that will probably very soon reveal itself to be genocide. The latest UN reports say nothing of American involvement, but one day Washington will be obliged to own up.

To the question from Paris, Washington diplomatically, but categorically, denies that its sending of troops to Rwanda in a program of bilateral cooperation established at the time of regime change in Kigali, in 1994, had any but humanitarian objectives: from courses in mine-removal to instruction in a uniform code of military justice for a country ravaged by civil war. However, the Pentagon is going to have to toss out some of its rationales after the testimony of Physicians for Human Rights before 16 July 1997 hearing of the US House Committee on International Affairs dealing with Congo. A representative of PHR denounced “the role Rwandan Vice-President and Defense Minister, Paul Kagame, continues to play in Congo.” And he confirmed,

“US Special Forces had been training the Rwandan Army since, at least, early 1996. The fact that this training was extended into cross-border anti-guerilla operations and surgical strikes is especially interesting.”

Pentagon representative Bill Twaddell, present at this hearing, denied the whole thing out of hand. But on 22 July, the obviously shaken members of the House Committee demanded a written explanation from the Defense Department. On 19 August they got their reply from the Pentagon in the form of an eight-page time-line, with accompanying graphs (notably, breaking out expenses), of “American military activities in Rwanda since 1994.” For 1996, the document states that this activity was made up solely of

. . . ‘joint/combined exchange training’, in which nine US Special Forces instructors in ‘battle-dress uniforms’, from 15 July to 30 August, drilled thirty Rwandan troops from the ‘small units command’ in tactical skills, land navigation, first aid and basic rifle marksmanship.

It makes clear that training in ‘tactical skills’ depends entirely on the students’ capabilities in ‘tactical patrolling.’ As for marksmanship training, which was carried out at the field school in Gabiro, in eastern Rwanda, it included

“the familiarization and perfection of skills with assigned weapons.”

From 2 November to 10 December 1996, at which time Kabila’s troops began their offensive, supported by Rwandan forces, the Pentagon acknowledged that one US military unit, a ‘civilian affairs’ unit, had trained members of the Rwandan Army and Gendarmerie in planning and executing operations involving civilian populations, and especially displaced persons. In November, as well, a public information training team . . .

“instructed Rwandan trainers on the planning and execution of media campaigns themed on repatriation and reconciliation of Rwandan refugees.”

This unit was from the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force of the US Command in the region.[46]

So this document verifies that the US did, in fact, take an active part in the campaign of disinformation that was carried out in Zaire, and it allows for a better understanding of the way in which the medias described these six months of horror, leaving only the appearance of game-stalking—under the circumstances considered legitimate—in pursuit of the Interahamwe militia, that is, of Rwandan Hutu ‘genocidaires’, by members of the ‘Banyamulenge[47] rebellion’ claiming to be under mortal threat from these refugees.

In Zaire, at the highest levels of government, the willful use of disinformation became evident. Honoré Ngbanda wrote:

With the powerful American media out in front, a broad campaign of lies and toxic-spin was launched in the international news. But quickly the reality on the ground made this phony version of events seem utterly ridiculous.[48]

The New York Times reporter Howard French, who covered the war in Zaire—and whose Clinton Administrations handle was “African solutions for African problems”—wrote about the failure of this media campaign[49]. He described how journalists let themselves be dragged into a banal “good guys” (Tutsi) versus “bad guys” (Mobutu and the Hutu) scenario, and how they could not or would not see the monstrous human cost of this war:

From beginning to end, this war was nothing less than a Tutsi invasion from Rwanda. […] The most powerful factor underlying our disinformation was an absolutely natural sympathy for the Tutsi after the Rwandan genocide.

This Times journalist spoke of an analogy drawn, from the very beginning, between the Tutsi and the State of Israel, the Jews of Europe, and The Holocaust, a fatuous comparison which became the moral cornerstone of Washington’s policies in Central Africa. And Howard French greatly stressed the important role played by Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker’s Africa hand, who made this disinformation his stock in trade as much in his reporting on the Rwandan tragedy as on the war in Zaire.

Gourevitch was key to the installation of the Paul Kagame version of events throughout the world—and especially the English-speaking world. His unbounded admiration and unconditional support for the Rwandan military dictator, whom he compares to David Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan, as well as for the ‘new’ Rwanda, which he sees as a “black Israel” after spending a few post-genocide months in-country, led Gourevitch to cheer his heroes’ sending troops into the refugee camp at Kibeho in April 1995 to massacre its inhabitant, and also the RPA’s invasion of Kivu, seeing this latter escapade as nothing more than a step in the process of decolonization.

The New Yorker columnist wrote his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (1998), pinning the blame for the tragedy on France. According to Howard French, Gourevitch had a strong personal influence on President Clinton, who adopted the vision of the African Great Lakes Region presented in his articles in The New Yorker and in Forward, as well as in his book. Published by a prominent New York house in 1998, when Gourevitch was 37, “We Wish to Inform You . . .” brought its author great, almost instantaneous recognition.

After winning a multitude of literary prizes and achieving great notoriety for the book, Gourevitch began functioning as a sort of propaganda agent for Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State and, prior to that, his UN Ambassador, someone who was eminently involved in American policies in Central Africa. Gourevitch’s brother-in-law, Jamie Rubin, served as Mme Albright’s press secretary and orchestrated the disinformation campaign for the media covering the Great Lakes Region—a fact that did not get by Lt-Col. Pouly or Col. Tracqui. It was Rubin who made sure that the lovely Christiane Amanpour would lead the CNN coverage of the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees across the Zaire/Rwandan border after the closing of the huge camp at Mugunga: “She was not interested in seeing the dubious aspects of the operation. Her job was just to lie.”[50] How Robin Philpot described it. Even Colette Braeckman, the Africa-expert for the Belgian paper Le Soir, did not acknowledge American manipulations of the true story:

Europeans were not just excluded from the conduct of this African war, which combined aspects of traditional and modern warfare with those of liberation struggles. They were also physically removed from it, and Western journalist were systematically kept at great distances from the front. At the end of this Century which had seen the press in the front row of such theatres, it was extraordinary to note that no Western journalist, no camera-man or photographer was permitted near the battle sites, neither with the rebels nor with the government forces.[51]

Raymond Chrétien, special UN representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, quickly acknowledged: “Certainly we used the media!”

Some time later, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, married Jamie Rubin.

The media war waged by Washington, using Pentagon-style psy-ops carried out by State Department press agents, to twist the reality of the war in Zaire and make the French out to be the ‘bad guys’, turned out to be very effective.

At the same time, US military and diplomatic personnel were making nice with their French counterparts each time these ‘old pals’ came across one another. The Americans would have been dead wrong not to play their crooked game at this time when French policies could in no way oppose them. . . .

Beyond their complicated relationship with Washington, French officials never had a global vision of what was happening in the African Great Lakes. After the organized toppling of the Mobutu regime, a vast regional project was set up, supported by not only the US, but by Great Britain and Israel, as well, and aimed at blowing up Zaire (with the direct aid of several multinationals) and bringing down the government in Khartoum, with the whole drive being ram-rodded by Paul Kagame, the new idol of the Clinton administration.

“The Clinton administration had a tendency to view Congo through the lens of Kigali,” is how Herman Cohen[52], former African-hand in the first George H.W. Bush administration, saw it. The objective, in brief, was completely to change the map of Africa and to put a broken country in receivership. . . .


The Coalition rebels led by James Kabarebe arrived in Kinshasa, without difficulty or expending much blood, on 17 May 1997. Mobutu, who had already left the capital a few days before, fled his home village, Gbadolite, for Morocco the preceding evening. The Rwandan officer, Kabarebe, addressed the cameras of the great press agency, Capa:

I called Kabila on the sat-phone, and he picked up. I told him we had taken Kinshasa. He said, “Are you sure?” He was all excited. He was very happy. I told him, “It’s all over, you can come on down!” He said, “Are you sure?” I heard he was in his house in Lubumbashi, and he jumped on Col. Murokozi’s back so hard he knocked him down. I heard Murukozi yell for help, because Kabila was suffocating him. Can you imagine Kabila on the ground crushing Murukozi with all his weight? He had trouble breathing. Kabila hollered: I’m the boss! I have the power? I am the president of Congo! I am everything[53]!

The day Kinshasa fell, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, from his home in Lubumbashi, declared himself president of the Republic and, thereby, eliminated the very popular Mobutu opponent, Étienne Tshisekedi. This behavior demonstrated that his sponsors, both African and Anglo-Saxon, who had justified their dumping Mobutu with a wish to replace a corrupt dictatorship with a democracy, could only bring about such change through the ballot box. For those who would not understand, the facts spoke clearly:

On 20 May, Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders] were very precise in accusing the AFDL of having exterminated 190,000 Rwandan refugees. On 26 May, Kabila, after arresting Tshisekedi, suspended all political parties. Kabila’s appointments on arriving in Kinshasa made it very clear that he was a puppet. The Rwandans took over the key posts in the new government, especially that of Army Chief of Staff, which went to General James Kabarebe, the RPA officer who led the taking of Kinshasa. . . .

The US won. But Washington had no illusions about the reliability of its new ally. In early March 1997, Honoré Ngbanda had this cool exchange with Dan Simpson, the US ambassador in Kinshasa:

—How can you now pal around with this guy, Kabila, that your own intelligence services still call a “bandit” and a “crook” for fighting against Mobutu? One would think you had burned your own files!

—Who told you Kabila was our friend? replied Simpson with a mocking and cynical grin. For now we need him. But we’ll sort him out when we’re done with him. For now, he’s our man! We know very well that he’s not the kind of guy to lead this country.


The Rwandans were already thinking along these lines. In the days following the fall of Mobutu, Emmanuel Ndahiro, one of the chiefs of the Rwandan external Secret Services, sent a message[54] to important Tutsis in the Diaspora intended to consolidate Rwandan influence in Kivu. This message already anticipated the return of Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Ndahiro called for “urgent and appropriate measures to safeguard our project”:

When we met in Kisoro (Uganda) from 3 to 5 June 1997, right after the victory that led to the fall of Mobutu, we high-lighted the necessity to back up our promise by assigning our best people to those services charged with taking care of security, the economy, finance and the administration, especially in the provinces of North and South Kivu, which are an integral part of our homeland. The strategy should facilitate our control of the Democratic Republic of Congo and further consolidate our influence in the Great Lakes region [. . .]. While we are awaiting your concrete proposals to be submitted for approval at the meeting to be held in Mbarara, Uganda, from 17 to 19 July 1997, we must call upon all of our leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo to remain vigilant, day and night, because Kabila is a Lumumbaist.

Clear and prescient, this message goes on in the form of a warning:

You know very well that the Lumumbaists are Nationalists. They could, one day, turn on us and drive us from Congo. The Congolese are like the Hutu. They are ingrates. . . .

And passing for a conclusion:

Finally, we wish to inform you that certain of our friends have begun to turn their backs on us and to discredit us. They call us “war mongers”, even “genocidaires”. They threaten to withdraw their support for us. We must immediately find strategies to deal adequately with this situation.

It did not stop the new Kinshasa strongman from trying, in the summer of 1997, to carry on the work his sponsors had started against the influence of France in Africa, by bringing the neighboring Congo into his camp. But Congo/Brazzaville was run by the unpredictable Pascal Lissouba, whose term ended on 31 August. Lissouba had learned the previous April from a survey he commissioned that he did not stand a chance of winning free, fair and transparent elections and that if voting went off democratically he would have to cede his presidency to his ruthless enemy, Denis Sassou Nguesso. For more than three months, Lissouba did everything possible to eliminate Sassou and keep on running Congo/Braz; he bought arms, hired mercenaries—financing all his corruption with money from Elf—and all in a totally capricious fashion. Seen from outside, he looked like a bee in a bottle. After taking Kinshasa, Kabila and his Rwandan minders scorned Lissouba because of his support for Mobutu until the last days of the Maréchal’s regime.

On 5 June 1997, Lissouba sent his tanks to surround Sassou Nguesso’s residence. Sassou, with the help of his loyalists, as well as some former-Mobutuist troops and, especially, some former FAR [Forces Armées Rwandaises] soldiers, Hutu refugees from the camp at Kintele, forty kms north of Brazzaville, resisted and turned back Lissouba’s troops. The ex-FAR played a determining role in this battle. They aided Sassou reflexively, exasperated as they were over Lissouba’s hostility to their plight. In fact, Lissouba had threatened forcibly to return them to Rwanda in response to orders from Kigali. Moreover, his army shelled the Rwandan refugee camp at Kintele.

Lissouba then vainly tried to mobilize support from France, which no longer had any intention of intervening directly, but was following the situation attentively and supported the mediations of Gabon’s President Omar Bongo, who was backed by the OAU, the UN, and other friendly heads of state.

Then Lissouba committed a grave error: he called on Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola], which waved a red cape in front of Angolan president, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. To understand the complicated history of Central Africa, one must always give primary consideration to the fratricidal war waged between Dos Santos and Savimbi until the latter’s death in February 2002. Washington, which had supported Mobutu and Savimbi at the same time, dropped the UNITA leader in 1993. Greatly weakened, Savimbi joined his old adversary in signing the Lusaka Accords in 1994. Everyone hoped that this would mark the end of an Angolan civil war that left at least 500,000 dead, 100,000 wounded and 4 million displaced. But despite the presence of UNITA representatives in the government, the hostile confrontation continued.

It was in this context that Dos Santos threw his support behind the AFDL, because Mobutu continued to back Savimbi. From the moment Lissouba gave his support to Savimbi, Dos Santos could not remain uninvolved: So, he decided to step in—secretly at first—against Lissouba. The Angolan secret service would rather have burned the whole place down than given it up to the regular army. Sure of the support of its Rwandan and Ugandan allies, the brand new Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) gradually moved closer to Lissouba as they saw him being abandoned by France. Pascal Lissouba seemed to remain more open than Sassou Nguesso to an American presence in Central Africa. Had he not already tried, in 1993-94, to approach the Americans, and had not his militias been trained by Israeli specialists at the Loudima camp, under the supervision of Col. Boro, posted in Kinshasa?

During the negotiations held in Libreville, Pascal Lissouba, who refused to give up power, accused Gabon and France of backing Sassou Nguesso and his rebels. After a meeting with Lissouba on 16 August 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila offered to send an interposition force made up of troops from other East and Central African countries. Radio-Congo accused Bongo of favoring Sassou Nguesso, whose oldest daughter was Bongo’s wife, and charged the two men with being too tightly connected to French interests in Congo. Bongo “gave in to pressure from France and Elf-Aquitaine”, causing “the failure of International mediation” from Libreville, was the refrain from Lissouba’s radio network. Kabila and Lissouba found themselves agreeing on one point, a shared anti-French sentiment:

“France is a modern parasite of which Congo must quickly rid itself,”

said Radio-Congo. And Kinshasa repeated,

“The French reaction shows just how obsolete are the relations between France and Africa.”

Some emissaries continued to shuttle between Libreville and Brazzaville to set up a summit meeting for eight African heads of state on 14 September. The night before, Lissouba sent a message to Kigali, where he had recently been honored by Paul Kagame, saying he would surely be in Libreville the following day. But the next day he did not show up, and instead paid a visit to Kabila. The President of Congo, himself, had grown very weary of an inconsistent Lissouba, who did not hesitate to shell Kinshasa, the twin-capital city to his Brazzaville, just on the other side of the river, in attempts to make the assaults seem to be coming from Sassou. . .

Finally, on 15 October 1997, Sassou definitively got the upper hand on Lissouba. Congo/Brazzaville would not join the new Anglo-Saxon camp.[55]


End Notes:

[1] This is an allusion to a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, entitled “Mapping,” about the crimes committed in the RDC between 1993 and 2003, made public in August 2010, see Annex 2, pp. _____.

[2] In mid-February 1997, Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, while visiting the makeshift camp at Tingi-Tingi, stated that she could guarantee neither the survival, nor the security, nor the protection of the refugees and could offer only humanitarian aid, on the condition that they fill-out the forms for immediate repatriation.

[3] An interview with the writer in Barcelona, 25 February 2008.

[4] Juan Carrero continued his fight. He is key to the investigation led by the Spanish Justice system against 40 close collaborators of Paul Kagame’s into war crimes and crimes of genocide, an investigation from which were issued 40 arrest warrants.

[5] Gracchus Babeuf, Du système de depopulation ou la vie et les crimes de Carrier, Paris, Imprimerie Franklin, year III of the Republic (1794).

[6] Among them: L’APR et les Réfugiés rwandais au Zaire, 1996-1997: Un génocide nié, by Gaspard Musabyimana, L’Harmattan, 2004; A Continent for the Taking, by Howard French, First Vintage Books Edition, April 2005; On ne piétine pas les étoiles, by François Lefort, Fayard, 1999; Ces teueurs tutsis: Au Coeur de la tragédie congolaise, by Charles Onana, Éditions Duboiris, 2009.

[7] L’Harmattan, 2000.

[8] Order to issue the 40 arrest warrants for members of Kagame’s inner circle by the National Court of Spain.

[9] Le Monde of Thursday 2 July 1998 featured a long article under the six-column headline, “A UN Report accuses Kinshasa and Kigali of ‘Crimes Against Humanity,’” see annex 2, pl 566.

[10] From an exchange with Robert Bourgi, in the documentary L’Afrique en morceaux: La tragédie des Grands Lacs [Africa in Pieces: The Tragedy of the Great Lakes], by Jihan El Tahri and Peter Chappell, produced for Capa and ARTE,

[11] After French President François Mitterand’s speech in June 1990 at La Baule, most of the French-speaking African countries created national conferences, constituent assemblies with the objective of introducing the countries to democratic rule and instituting a new sharing of power.

[12] Reported by Honoré Ngbanda in his Crimes organizé en Afrique centrale [Organized Crimes in Central Africa], op. cit.

[13] Information about the intelligence obtained by the French Secret Services was laid out in an article for Valeurs actuelles (30 August 1997), compiled and corroborated by a former high official from that period.

[14] A COIA file entitled: “Point de situation au COIA.” [Where are we in the COIA situation?]

[15] A COIA file from 8 November 1996.

[16] See the Memorandum of the Itwari Partnership [Mémorandum du Partenariat-Itwari], cited above.

[17] Foreign Minister in the government of PM Alain Juppé (1995-1997).

[18] In two hearings before the US House of Representatives, 4 December 1996.

[19] The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region.

[20] Béatrice Umutesi, Fuir ou mourir au Zaïre, Le vécu d’une réfugiée Rwandaise, Paris-Montréal, L'Harmattan, 2000. [English version: Surviving the Slaughter:The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire,.
Translated by Julia Emerson]

[21] Made famous by her coverage of the Gulf War of 1990, this American journalist specialized in reporting from conflict zones. She garnered many awards and countless accolades. In 2006, Forbes magazine named her the 79th most powerful woman in the world.

[22] Jean Daniel, Avec le temps (With Time). Carnets 1970-1998.

[23] On 21 November 2002 in Paris and reported in Philpot’s book, Ça ne c’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali. [In English translation as Rwanda 1994: Colonialism Dies Hard, available on Phil Taylor’s web site, The Taylor Report, http://www.taylor-report.com/Rwanda_1994/

[24] At the 2007 ceremonies for the 13th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide, Paul Kagame expressed regrets at not inflicting greater punishment on the Hutu ‘genocidaires.’

[25] Reproduced in a Memorandum sent 15 February 2008 to the Secretary General of the UN by the president of the Intwari Partnership, Emmanuel Habyarimana.

[26] Béatrice Umutesi, Fuire ou mourir au Zaïre . . . , op. cit.

[27] This note was also included in the memorandum sent to the UN Secretary General on 15 February 2008 by the Intwari Partnership.

[28] The Mobile Satellite Company

[29] Reported by Hubert Coudurier in Valeurs actuelles, of 30 August 1997.

[30] So as not to alienate Jacques Foccart, when Jacques Chirac became French PM under Mitterand, he appointed Foccard his personal representative to the African Chiefs of State. At the same time, Michel Dupuch, former French ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, was Chirac’s official advisor on African Affairs. In fact, during this period of cohabitation [1987-1988, a Socialist president with a RPR/UDF {Right} PM], there was an official Africa desk, manned by Jacques Foccard, and an unofficial desk, manned by the former ambassador to Chad, Fernand Wibaux. Two desks that often opposed one another.

[31] Article by Jacques Isnard, from Le Monde of 28 March 1997.

[32] On this subject, see Honoré Ngbanda’s book, Crimes organizes en Afrique centrale, op cit.

[33] French acronym for Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre. In English, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo.

[34] It was at US insistence that Angola and Chad joined the coalition against Mobutu.

[35] In May 1978, 600 French Foreign Legionnaires of the 2nd Parachute Regiment, jumped into Kowezi to drive Katangist rebels back into Angola because Zairian forces were unable to fight them After the intervention of Mobutu’s troops, the Gendarmes Katangais massacred about a thousand civilians.

[36] See the work of Jean Guisnel, Les Pires Amis du monde. Les relations franco-américaines à la fin de XXe siècle, Stock, 1999. [The Worst Friends in the World. Franco-American relations at the end of the 20th Century.]

[37] Especially in notes coming from Michel Pouly, a specialist in the African Great Lakes for the DRM.

[38] Jean-Raymond Boulle, born on the Ile de Maurice, is a British citizen who now lives in Monaco. During the war of liberation, he got to Goma, the rebel stronghold, on 27 March 1997. Along with an associate, he bought up the diamonds produced from the Zairian territory under Kabila’s control. In April 1997, he returned to Europe, having gained concessions in two very important mineral zones.

[39] He gave Kabila his personal plane and a million dollars.

[40] Forbes 10 August 1998.

[41] See the Memorandum of the Itwari Partnership cited above, which speaks of covert actions led by or with Lady Chalker.

[42] The reader will notice that I am unsure of the dates of these two Defense Council meetings.

[43] During a 31 May 2010 interview, former-President Chirac vigorously denied that he had changed his mind because of US pressure.

[44] An article in the 13 March 1997 edition, entitled “Les hyporcrises occidentales paralysent tout plan d’aide aux refugiés.” [Western hypocrisy paralyzes all plans to aid the refugees.]

[45] And the cute little play on words that is “Françafrique”: “France” and “Africa” as “France à fric” or “France to the ‘fric’ [‘money’].”

[46] Sylvie Kauffmann, “Les Etats-Unis a entrainé l’armée rwandaise au combat et à la guérilla” [The US trained the Rwandan Army for combat and guerilla warfare], Le Monde of 28 August 1997.

[47] Former Rwandan Tutsi living in Zaire/Congo.

[48] Honoré Ngbanda, Crimes organizes en Afrique centrale [Organized Crime in Central Africa], op. cit.

[49] Howard W. French, A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, First Vintage Books Edition, 2004.

[50] Robin Philpot, Ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali {English version: Rwanda 1994: Colonialism Dies Hard—See The Taylor Report] op. cit.

[51] Colette Braeckman, L’Enjeu congolais. L’Afrique centrale après Mobutu. [The Stakes in Congo. Central Africa After Mobutu] Fayard, 2009

[52]See In Congopolis, 15 October 2002.

[53] From the film by Jihan El-Tahri, with the collaboration of Peter Chappell, L’Afrique en morceaux [Africa in Pieces]

[54] See the memorandum sent on 15 February 2008 by the president of the Intwari-Parternship, General Emmanuel Habyarimana, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

[55] For more information on this war, see: Gérard Prunier, Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, Oxford University Priss, 2010; René Lemarchand, The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009; Thomas Turner, The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Zed Books, 2007.