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Police and soldiers did not intervene when Tshisekedi supporters later burne

June 27, 1997

Police and soldiers did not intervene when Tshisekedi supporters later burned a bus in protest. Supporters spent the night on the street in front of his home and scores of soldiers were posted nearby.

Jacques Mbila, a Tshisekedi aide, said the opposition leader had been approached earlier Thursday by soldiers who said they had been sent to escort him to a meeting with Kabila. Tshisekedi told them he was too busy to see the president, Mbila said.

Another supporter, Kongulo wa Tshimanga, said the soldiers who came to Tshisekedi’s home late Thursday said other top members of his party already had been arrested.

Kabila, who has promised elections within two years, rules by decree with the help of a Cabinet composed mostly of his supporters.

The president’s commitment to human rights has been questioned, in large part because his soldiers were accused of killing refugees from neighboring Rwanda during their campaign to oust Mobutu.

Kabila’s rebel troops were backed by Rwanda’s Tutsi-led government, which was angry that former Rwandan Hutu soldiers and militia were using refugee camps in Congo as a base from which to attack Rwanda.

During Mobutu’s nearly 32-year reign, Tshisekedi served three stints as prime minister at times when Mobutu sought to move toward democracy to satisfy critics. Each time, Tshisekedi was ousted after clashing with the former dictator.

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