Mobutu's Return

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ROQUEBRUNE-CAP-MARTIN, France: President Mobutu Sese Seko made his long-anticipated return to Zaire Tuesday. But after four months abroad, no one seems to know what awaits the ailing President. A heavily armed convoy escorted Mobutu to one of his residences at Camp Tashatshi military base."This is certainly a significant event, but signifying what, no one is really sure," says TIME's Peter Graff. Sources say that Mobutu has weeks, possibly months, to live, but if he has an agenda for his last days other than trying to fight off prostate cancer, he isn't saying. Government officials say Mobutu's return will revitalize the army and restore Zairian pride, and turn the tide against the rebellion in the east. Yet although the evening news Monday reported that rebel leader Laurent Kabila had been "trembling" since he heard of the President's return, Mobutu brings no army with him. The outgunned Zairian forces have been consistently beaten and humiliated, and it seems unlikely that leadership alone can halt the rebel advance. What Mobutu's arrival is generating so far is a maximum of fuss. State-run television and radio Monday proclaimed it a "great event" and urged Zairians to "show solidarity" with Mobutu by lining the streets from the airport to Camp Tashatshi, a military encampment with a presidential residence in Kinshasa. There, Mobutu is to make a rare broadcast address. Anyone who comes deserves one hell of a speech.