U.S. Representative McKinney Calls High Level
Talks With Alliance of Democratic Forces "Extremely Successful"
May 13, 1997
As the new Zairian government begins to take shape, it is extremely
important that Mr. Kabila understand the advantages of implementing
democratic reforms and to having an open economy. Foreign aid and
foreign investment can only occur in a free and democratic Zaire,"
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-4th-GA)
arrived in Washington today from Zaire. While in Zaire, she met with
Mr. Laurent Kabila, leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of the Republic of Congo-Zaire. Ms. McKinney's
diplomatic mission stressed the need for political and economic
stability in Central Africa -- especially Zaire. She strongly
emphasized to Mr. Kabila the need for a commitment to free and fair
elections and to gain a promise that human rights abuses against
Rwandan refugees will stop immediately.
Rep. McKinney, traveling under authorization from the U.S. Department
of State and the House International Relations Committee, met with
Mr. Kabila on Saturday, May 11, 1997. (Rep. McKinney is the only
African American woman on the House International Relations
Committee.) The closed door session lasted more than one hour and
proved "Very fruitful," according to an optimistic Rep. McKinney.
The lively, but frank, conversation centered around U.S. interests in
Zaire and humanitarian issues. McKinney delivered a strongly worded
message to Mr. Kabila, indicating that refugee assistance and
evacuation should be a "priority" for his new government.
Furthermore, she stated that Kabila should mandate "safe passage" for
refugees wanting to leave Zaire and return to Rwanda. She also
stressed that aid workers should not be threatened but given
protection. Reports in the Western press indicate that Kabila's
forces had intimidated aid workers in the past. McKinney pushed for
free and fair elections as soon as possible -- a two year time-frame
would be the ideal. "This time frame would allow for a smooth
transition of power," she said.
Mr. Kabila is on the verge of seizing power in Zaire after 32 years of
dictatorial rule by U.S. sponsored President Mobutu Seso Seko. It is
reported that Mr. Kabila's forces now control more than 85% of the
land area of Zaire and he is amassing forces both East and West of the
Capitol of Kinshasa. President Mobutu seized power after Patrice
Lumumba, the democratically elected leader of Zaire, was reportedly
assassinated by CIA operatives. Mobutu has a history of using U.S.
supplied weapons and technology against his own people. Reports
indicate that Mobutu used his position as President to strip Zaire of
his country's vast natural resources and convert those resources into
an immense personal fortune.
Rep. McKinney, the only African American woman on the International
Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights,
indicated that her concern for Zaire, its people and the Rwandan
refugees is consistent with her position as a proponent of human
rights both in the United States and abroad. The reported human
rights abuses and possible bloodshed over the Capitol of Kinshasa,
made the need for the trip "Urgent," according to McKinney.
Zaire's importance to the United States and to the overall stability
of the African continent cannot be overstated. Zaire is situated in
the heart of Central Africa, is bordered by nine other countries and
is roughly the size of Western Europe. Political and economic
stability in Zaire could have a positive rippling effect across the
rest of the African continent.
"The civil war in Zaire is nearing an end and reaching a very pivotal
point. As the new Zairian government begins to take shape, it is
extremely important that Mr. Kabila understand the advantages of
implementing democratic reforms and to having an open economy.
Foreign aid and foreign investment can only occur in a free and
democratic Zaire," asserted McKinney.