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Three days before Zairian President Mobutu Sese Suko is scheduled to speak at Harvard, the Cambridge City Council last night became the latest group to protest the planned visit.
In a unanimous vote, the council passed Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci's resolution condemning Mobutu, who is slated to speak at the Kennedy School of Government Thursday. The bill, which passed with no debate, charged Mobutu's government with numerous human rights abuses and said that he had denied basic political rights to the people of Zaire.
"Therefore be it resolved, that this City Council go on record as opposed to the welcoming of Mr. Mobutu Sese Seko and further that this City Council consider Mr. Seko as a Persona NonGrata in the City of Cambridge," theresolution stated.
The resolution also cited Amnesty Internationalinformation which shows that Mobuto's regime hasoverseen arbitrary arrests and jailings, tortureand other human rights abuses.
The planned speaking engagement by the Zairianpresident has drawn protest from groups like thenational Rainbow Lobby, who argue that he is notfit to speak at an Institute of Politics eventcalled "Peace and Progress: The Future of SouthernAfrica." But Kennedy School officials havedefended the choice of Mobuto, saying he isworking to bring about an end to the Angolan civilwar.
University administrators and officials at theZairian embassy in Washington could not be reachedfor comment yesterday.
The Harvard-Radcliffe Black StudentsAssociation (BSA) has also joined the groupsprotesting the Mobutu visit, according to itspresident, Erica E. Marsh. She said in aninterview that the Council's action was"definitely justified."
"Harvard's allowing him to come on campus isdefinitely not a good thing," Marsh said.
Jeff P. Aron, national canvass director for theRainbow Lobby, said that legislation similar tothe Cambridge City Council's may be introducedinto the Boston City Council and MassachusettsState House later this week.
"We're here to take away the enormous publicrelations value given by Harvard to amass-murderer who has for 24 years plundered hiscountry and abused his people," Aron said in aninterview
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