In Brief…. (May 1997)
by Humanitarian Practice Network May 1997

… The rebel Alliance forces of Laurent Kabila, supported by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola, entered Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire, forcing President Mobutu to flee the country. Kabila subsequently formed a government excluding opposition leader Tshichekedi and proclaimed himself President. International aid officials have publicly criticised the Alliance for human rights abuses towards Rwandan refugees in east and central Zaire and for obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The country has now been renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

… A military coup in Sierra Leone reversed the peace process, overturning the civilian government and causing the suspension of committed rehabilitation and reconstruction funds. Nigeria, under the ECOMOG charter, is sending troops in support of the overthrown government.

… In Cambodia, in anticipation of forthcoming elections, tensions are rising between the parties of Prince Ranaridd and Hun Sun who have shared the role of prime minister in a coalition government since the UN-sponsored election of 1993. There is an increase in violence and human rights abuses, not least by the police and army, seldom investigated and punished.

… Government forces launched a full-scale offensive in northern Sri Lanka. The main advance has been northwards from Vavuniya, to establish a land route through the LTTE-held Vanni region, to the government-controlled Jaffna peninsula. Thousands of people internally displaced during earlier escalations in fighting in 1991-2 and 1995 are again forced to flee. LTTE ambushes and guerrilla attacks continue in the East.

… The commander of Faryab province northern Afghanistan apparently defected to the Taliban, taking over Mazar-i-Sharif into which the Taliban marched a few days later. Attempts to disarm the population and impose religious restrictions led to a popular uprising, forcing them to leave the city again. New forces are now mobilising in the south but developments remain uncertain. Despite no evidence of a major humanitarian crisis, aid agencies which evacuated their international staff are now considering returning.

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