October 13, 1997
Congo Leader Spreads Around Blame
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- The same nations and international bodies demanding investigations into alleged massacres in Congo must assume some of the responsibility for any killings that did occur, the president said Monday.
``All the forces who contributed in all forms -- including in the name of sending humanitarian assistance -- to the human suffering of our people, are responsible ... for these grave violations,'' President Laurent Kabila told reporters.
Kabila stopped short of conceding that his troops had in fact committed mass killings during their sweep across the country, which culminated in the overthrow of his predecessor, Mobutu Sese Seko.
The comments by Kabila, who often criticizes Western countries for supporting the long, brutal rule of the late Zairian dictator Mobutu, came amid increasing pressure by the United States and other Western countries to let a U.N. investigation to go forward.
The efforts of the U.N. team, which had been in the former Zaire to investigate allegations that Kabila's forces had killed thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees, have been temporarily suspended while team leaders are in New York for consultations.
While Kabila's government has repeatedly said it wants the investigation to go forward, the team was unable to leave Kinshasa because of differences with the government over details and conditions of the probe.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the team back to give the United States time to persuade Kabila and his allies in Rwanda and Uganda that the investigation is in their interests.
But on Monday, Kabila, who has changed the name of his country to Congo, accused those behind the investigation of ill intent.
``These posturings can only be prompted by the desire to cover up atrocities and human rights committed in the past, or other hidden agendas,'' he said.
He gave no details.
Kabila also urged that other Central African nations be allowed to work with the U.N. team.
``All the regional actors must have a primary and active role,'' he told reporters. He didn't specify which countries he was referring to, but appeared to be citing Rwanda and Uganda.
As he has in the past, he stressed that any investigation should also probe the abuses of the Mobutu era.
``The hard-won stability will remain precarious unless and until all the violations of human rights ... are accounted for in a comprehensive manner,'' he said.
In a report released last week, Human Rights Watch/Africa said most of the massacres were carried out by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Army and Congolese Tutsis allied with Kabila.
Their motive was believed to be revenge for the 1994 genocide of a half-million Rwandan Tutsis and Hutu moderates by Hutu extremists who ruled Rwanda at the time. The Hutu refugees had fled into the former Zaire to escape reprisals when Tutsi rebels overthrew the government in Rwanda.