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Berman, Eric G and Louisa N. Lombard. 2008 ‘Indirect Transfers from Regional Armies and Armed Groups - Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire).’ The Central African Republic and Small Arms: A Regional Tinderbox, pp. 58-61. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 1 December

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Indirect Transfers from Regional Armies and Armed Groups - Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire)

In 1997 and 1999 fighting in Zaire resulted in large numbers of armed men crossing into CAR. The first wave came in the first half of 1997, when members of President Mobutu's presidential guard, police, and gendarmerie and the Forces armées zaïroises (Zairian Armed Forces, FAZ) retreated across the border to escape Kabila's advancing Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo-Zaïre (Democratic Alliance Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, AFDL). Kabila's forces swept westward through the provinces of Haut-Zaire (now Orientale), Equateur, and Bandundu, eventually seizing the capital in May 1997. A similar exodus occurred in 1999, when forces loyal to Kabila fled across the frontier with CAR to evade Bemba's MLC and the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF).

Upward of 10,000 soldiers and other police and security forces of the central government in Kinshasa were involved. In the case of Mobutu's forces, by one account there were thought to be around 30,000 armed personnel in Haut-Zaire and Equateur provinces. It has been estimated that one-third would have entered CAR with the rest crossing into the RoC and the Sudan, or remaining in Zaire/DRC - either alive or dead…

These troops appear to have brought more than 10,000 weapons into CAR. Conversations with former members of FAC and FAZ who now reside in CAR revealed that they and their compatriots traversed the Ubangui River with numerous types of small arms, but few heavy weapons. Weaponry included a large number of pistols (mostly Belgian 9 mm models), sub-machine guns (largely Israeli Uzis, plus some Egyptian Port Saids), assault rifles (Belgian FN-FALs, German G-3s, Israeli Galils, US M-16s, and Kalashnikovs manufactured in the Soviet Union and elsewhere), and anti-tank weapons (Soviet RPG-7s).

Most of these weapons have not been accounted for. Mutinous FACA soldiers seized many of them; the government also procured thousands…

Libya provided transport aircraft to fly many Congolese troops back to Kinshasa, but without their weapons. The Central African government admitted keeping 3,328 light arms belonging to FAC in safe storage until the war in the DRC was resolved. Of the 3,250 light arms that the Central African government collected from Congolese soldiers via MINURCA, the central authorities destroyed some 500 in 2000. Of the remaining 2,750 or so weapons, Demafouth said that approximately 300 were M-16s, 200 were Galils, and 100 were Uzis. Most of the others were Kalashnikovs. Though there is some confusion as to what exactly happened to these weapons, there is apparently consensus that they were never returned to Kinshasa.

[CAR = Central African Republic; DRC = Democratic Republic of the Congo; FAC = Forces armées congolaises; FACA= Forces armées centrafricaines; MINURCA = United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic; MLC = Mouvement de libération du Congo; RoC = Republic of the Congo]

ID: Q5242

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