The United States has ordered all nonemergency government employees and the families of embassy personnel to leave Congo because of renewed fighting and "the uncertain political and security situation."
In a travel warning Tuesday night, the State Department also warned American citizens to avoid the country, formerly called Zaire, and urged those already there to leave as soon as they can safely, saying they "run the risk of attack or detention.""There has been sporadic fighting in Kinshasa, the capital, as well as in the eastern towns of Kisangani and Bukavu," the department said. "There continue to be reports of unofficial armed groups operating in parts of the country, as well as pillaging, vehicle thefts, carjackings, extrajudicial settling of differences, ethnic tension and continued military operations."
While urging Americans to get out, the department gave a mixed review to Congo President Laurent Kabila's 15-month rule, citing some successes but also "significant setbacks" in human rights and other areas.
"Kabila's rule has been a mixed bag," department spokesman James P. Rubin said Tuesday.
He noted that Kabila has released Congo's foremost opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, and has set a schedule for elections.
On the other hand, Kabila denied access to U.N. human rights officials who had sought to investigate reports of massacres in eastern Congo, Rubin said.