Misanet.com / The Namibian, 22 January - The main allies of slain President Laurent Kabila pledged yesterday to continue their military support for the new government until peace was restored in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The presidents of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola called for broader talks to end the civil war - in its third year - raging in the north and east of Africa's third largest nation.
- The heads of state ....decided to maintain their respective troops in that country and reinforce the security of the population, the government, foreign citizens ... until lasting peace and stability is achieved, they said in a joint statement.
Namibian President Sam Nujoma, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, and Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola condemned Kabila's assassination and called for an investigation. Officials said the Luanda meeting discussed how to shore up the huge war-torn Congo after the death of Kabila, who was shot by a bodyguard in Kinshasa last week.
His funeral is set for Tuesday, after which his 31-year-old son Joseph - the country's interim leader - is to be sworn in as president. "The new authorities have expressed willingness for us to continue our support. We are offering this support especially regarding the security of Congo and Kinshasa," Mugabe told reporters after the one-day meeting.
Dos Santos later told reporters in Luanda that Joseph Kabila's interim government had already won legitimacy as it had been recognised by the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations. "The president was killed but the regime continues," he said.
Rebel leaders have strongly condemned Joseph Kabila's appointment as interim president. "The allies are agreed that they will remain in the DRC but we have to define what kind of assistance the authorities in the DRC need, how we can help, and, at the same time, ensure how we consolidate the search for peace," an official told Reuters.
Diplomatic sources said southern African leaders were considering a full summit in Mozambique on Wednesday. DRC, Zimbabwean and Angolan soldiers threw a security net over Kinshasa yesterday as Kabila's body was flown in from his native Katanga Province ahead of a state funeral tomorrow.
Kabila's coffin reached the People's Palace in central Kinshasa late afternoon after a slow journey from N'djili airport along roads lined with hundreds of thousands of people, mourning the leader killed by one of his own guards last week.
The white coffin draped in the national flag, blue with white stars, was transported on a gun carriage to the people's palace, flanked by an honour guard of white-gloved soldiers, and led by an officer carrying a large portrait of the dead president.
The body is to lie in state until burial on Tuesday. Kabila's body returned to Kinshasa from his southern home town of Lubumbashi, where it rested briefly after its return from Harare. Kabila was taken to the Zimbabwean capital last week for medical treatment. The authorities say he died there.
Groups of police and crowds of people, many wearing T-shirts printed with Kabila's image, lined the 40-kilometre route from the airport to the People's Palace. Once at the Palace, army officers acting as pallbearers carried the coffin through a thick crowd of Kabila supporters, many of them women in traditional dress and carrying flowers.
Earlier, female relatives wailed and one woman had to be restrained by soldiers as the body was taken off the plane. Army generals saluted and wheeled the coffin along a red carpet as government ministers and dignitaries looked on. In the city, cars sported clumps of leaves under bonnets and windscreen wipers as signs of mourning, and some taxi drivers said they had been given free fuel to bring mourners to watch.
Little clarity has been shed on how Kabila died. In the first official account of Kabila's murder, Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo said on Saturday the president had "been talking to an economic adviser before the assassin came into the room, made as if to speak to Kabila, and shot him three times."
- One of the bullets went right behind the ear and came right behind the ribs. I think that's the one that killed him, Mwenze told a news conference.
Last week the country's influential Communications Minister, Dominique Sakombi, said Kabila was killed by one of his bodyguards. In yet another development, a group of DRC soldiers close to one of Kabila's former allies who disappeared in 1997 yesterday claimed the late president's slaying. A statement sent to AFP in Paris was signed by "the young militants of the National Council for Resistance and Democracy (NCRD)".
It was dated January 18 - the day the government said Kabila died from wounds suffered in a shooting two days earlier - and was said to have been written in the DRC capital Kinshasa. The statement said the previously unknown NCRD had been formed under the orders of General Ngandu Kisase, who fought alongside Kabila in the war that ousted the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from the then Zaire in 1997. Kisase disappeared later that year in circumstances that were never clarified.
Yesterday The Sunday Independent in South Africa said diplomats in the DRC suspect there was a more complicated explanation for Kabila's assassination - an inside job or a move by one of Kabila's allies. The report also said diplomats believed a violent shake-up was under way behind the scenes and that last week's assassination was a failed coup attempt.