Lissouba pledges to assist Congo regain freedom

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Exiled former Congolese President Pascal Lissouba has reaffirmed his readiness to work for peace, liberty and reconciliation so as to foster harmonious development in his "marvellous country.
" Lissouba said this in a telephone interview with PANA from Johannesburg, where he is currently on a tour at the invitation of the South African Parliament.
"While in exile, helping this marvellous country to regain peace and liberty is more important than myself.
The love I hold for my country is difficult to replace," added the former president was ousted in October 1997.
Lissouba explained that there are times when he fails to eat when it crosses his mind that bombs were being used to destroy houses, farms and to massacre the Congolese people.
"As this happens, would you like me to do as they are doing, that's keep on dancing and having fun.
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?" On his relations with the exiled former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas, Lissouba said the former Mayor of Brazzaville was a an "old friend" he had asked to work with.
This collaboration was disrupted following the coup d'etat staged "Mr Sassou", whom Lissouba refused to refer to as president throughout the telephone interview, asserting that he was still Congo's democratically-elected head of state.
"Kolelas is still with me today.
When I went into exile, I did not ask anybody to follow me.
However, young people and senior personalities like Prime Minister Kolelas also decided on their own to go out into exile," he said.
"Kolelas and myself are involved in the same struggle," said Lissouba, commending the politician who unsuccessfully attempted to participate in last April's national dialogue in Brazzaville.
According to Lissouba, the former Prime Minister still wants to return to Congo because "the masses are suffering and he wants to suffer with them.
" "To me, he is a friend and we are fighting the same battle for democracy in our country, democracy with peace and freedom.
If these are missing, you can't talk of anything in Africa.
" The former President insisted that it would be illusory to talk about development in Africa if peace and liberty do not prevail.
"Even if democracy does not mean the same thing to everybody, peace and liberty are fundamental because they are underlying factors for creativity and innovation.
These are prerequisites for development.
" Meanwhile, Lissouba rejected the notion that civil war had occurred in Congo because no pitched battles had occurred between the country's 25 ethnic groups.
According to him, foreign troops, which are still occupying the country were to blame for the blood-letting that had occurred in the Congo.
"Congo has been occupied by foreign troops for the past four years," said Lissouba, adding the UN, the EU, the OAU and of many others were aware of this.
He insisted the need to liberate Congo from the foreign occupation.
"These people should be blamed if there is turmoil and war.
They loot, manipulate and systematically kill young people.
They systematically rape young girls, particularly those below the age of 12.
And you still tell me there is a civil war?" Lissouba accused Sassou Nguesso of bringing Angolans, Rwandans, Chadians and "Mobutu's people" to cause havoc in Congo, after they had caused devastation in their respective countries of origin.
The former president said that Nguesso was "giving those people identity cards so that they will vote for him.
" "With all these people present, no one can tell me that it is the Congolese people who are waging a civil war? "Let's not joke, once again it's a coup d'etat, the dirtiest of its kind.
We have never experienced such a murderous coup d'etat.
You know, perhaps one million people have been killed in our country.
"

22 june 2001 21:45:00




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