US-trained Libya mercenaries to be flown to Zaire

Mark Huband in Abidjan

The Guardian, 15 December 1990

LIBYAN dissidents trained by the United States in Chad to destabilise the Gadafy regime are being flown to Zaire, Zairean radio reported yesterday. It said they were being taken to a US-run base at Kamina, 375 miles northwest of Lubumbashi.

The radio said the dissidents were being ferried from an undisclosed location, but Nigeria has said it had agreed to accept them temporarily.

The 700 dissidents, who were among 2,000 Libyan troops captured by Chad during its war with Libya in the mid-1980s, but who later renounced their support for Colonel Gadafy, were evacuated from Chad by the US last weekend, following the overthrow of Hissene Habré’s anti-Gadafy regime by rebels.

In an interview with Agence France Presse, Zaire’s President, Mobutu Sese Seko, said that the mercenaries would be given a choice about returning to Libya.

Libya’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed al-Bechari, flew to the Zaire capital, Kinshasa, on Thursday to ask President Mobutu to allow the mercenaries into the country. He claims they were held in US-run camps in Chad and forced to train as anti-Gadafy terrorists.

Col Gadafy accused the US of “piracy” when the Libyans were flown to Nigeria after President Habré’s fall. On Wednesday, Libya offered Zaire new and regular oil supplies, which would significantly ease its fuel shortage and would not have to be paid for until 1992, government sources said.



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