The Kabilla Effect

  • Share
  • Read Later

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo: “Now that full-fledged mayhem has crossed the Congo River to Brazzaville,” reports TIME’s Peter Graff, “Africans are opening speaking about the Kabila effect.” They are wondering whether the rise of Kabila in Kinshasha has invited a new round of would-be revolutionaries to make their moves. The basic instability that has taken hold in the region was caused in part by France’s weak diplomacy. After a half-century of virtual and actual French control in the region, new-look, new-hope African leaders like Kabila, Uganda's Museveni, and Rwanda's Kagame are speaking English and cutting all the old ties. On Tuesday, locked in a battle with an old rival for control of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo President Pascal Lissouba was hinting that he might call in the cavalry. "It would be for the French authorities to decide the necessity of enforcing the legitimacy and above all the consolidation of a democratic regime in a country to which they are connected," Lissouba said. But if France decides to add to the 850 troops that were in Brazzaville Tuesday in order to try to save Lissouba from Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, it will reverse a remarkable trend of French retreat from the region. France failed notably in its anemic support of Mobutu Sese Seko in the face of Kabila’s rebel campaign. New French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin refuses even to allow the ailing former dictator into the country, a privilege accorded in the past to ousted Francophone strongmen ranging from Bokassa to Baby Doc. As Lissouba clearly has realized, he’s on his own, and he’d better find a new retirement haven.