IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 47

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 47


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 47 covering the period
20-26 November 1999


DRC: "Organised battles" reported in Equateur
DRC: Possible hitch in rebel meeting
DRC: Mayi-Mayi attack Butembo airport
DRC: Mayi-Mayi "not controlled" by Kabila
DRC: Kabila accused of rearming
DRC: Resolution would "equip" 500 UN observers
BURUNDI: Three dead in grenade attack on Bujumbura market
BURUNDI: Rebel attack repulsed in Bujumbura Rural
BURUNDI: Choice of new mediator critical, report warns
BURUNDI: Main parties push for Mandela mediation
RWANDA: Request for Barayagwiza review welcomed
RWANDA: IMF approves loan
UGANDA: Army hunting Ikondere killers
ROC: Systematic rape of girls in "forgotten war"
SUDAN: WFP warns of "looming crisis" in the south
DJIBOUTI: Guelleh seeks IGAD endorsement for Somali peace plan
ERITREA: Boycott of Djibouti-hosted IGAD summit
ETHIOPIA: Government denies mistreating Eritreans, seizing property
SOMALIA: MSF suspends activities in Kismayo
CAR: RDC members killed in Kembe

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: "Organised battles" reported in Equateur

Both sides in the DRC conflict have reported serious fighting in Equateur
Province on Wednesday and Thursday, with each blaming the other for
violating the ceasefire agreement signed in Lusaka. Regional analysts told
IRIN there seemed to be a committed government offensive underway in the
northwest, "in line with its pledge to liberate the country by the
millennium", but its allies were less involved and didn't want to be too
involved in a major breach of the Lusaka ceasefire. All the indications
were that "organised battles, not just skirmishes" were underway in the
province, the analysts said.

Meanwhile, an official of the UN Observer Mission to the DRC (MONUC)
observed that "if all the reports are correct - and we do not have the
witnesses to be sure - but if it's the case of a major offensive, then the
Lusaka agreement is in danger of becoming part of history."

DRC: Possible hitch in rebel meeting

A planned meeting next week between the three rebel groups in the DRC
faces a possible hitch after the leader of the Rassemblement congolais
pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) Ernest Wamba dia Wamba
said he would not attend. Wamba told IRIN on Wednesday he was not involved
at the consultation level and was "not aware" of the meeting. "You cannot
call a consultation meeting without first discussing it with those
concerned," he said. The Ugandan daily 'The Monitor' on Wednesday quoted
the rival RCD-Goma faction leader, Emile Ilunga, as saying the three rebel
groups would meet next week in an effort to resolve their differences.
Leader of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba,
meanwhile confirmed to IRIN he would attend the meeting. "We are trying to
come together and forge a united front," he said.

DRC: Mayi-Mayi attack Butembo airport

Mayi-Mayi fighters early on Tuesday attacked Butembo in northeastern DRC
and briefly occupied the airport, RCD-ML leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba
told IRIN on Wednesday. He said about 30 assailants were killed and a
number wounded, while a further 20 escaped following the attack which
lasted 10 minutes. According to Wamba, the DRC government promised the
assailants US $10,000 each if they captured the airport, after which
President Kabila would send reinforcements. "But how can people control an
airport with machetes?" Wamba said. "These people are so hungry they can
fall for any lie and go ahead and lose their lives for no reason.

DRC: Mayi-Mayi "not controlled" by Kabila

The Mayi-Mayi militia forces have denied they are under the control of
President Laurent-Desire Kabila, saying they have "never belonged to an
individual or a group". In a statement, received on Monday by IRIN, the
Conseil politico-militaire des forces Mayi-Mayi, said they simply shared
the desire to "render harmless the invaders". The statement announced the
Mayi-Mayi's "new strategy" of "urban ungovernability", in which they
sought to attack military targets in "occupied" towns. One example of this
was the attack against Ugandan troops in Beni earlier this month, the
statement said. It claimed Ugandan commander Colonel Reuben Ikondere was
"captured, tried and sentenced to death". He was then "executed" along
with two of his bodyguards. Their bodies were returned to Beni, so they
could be repatriated to Uganda, the statement said.

DRC: Kabila accused of rearming

Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused DRC President
Laurent-Desire Kabila of taking advantage of delays in the implementation
of the Lusaka ceasefire by rearming his forces. "Kabila is rearming. He
has been purchasing a lot of military equipment, he has been reorganising
his forces," Reuters reported Kagame as saying. Ugandan security sources
and Congolese rebels have claimed that Kabila received two shiploads of
arms and equipment from China, India and an unknown Arab country, as well
as buying six modified Mig-21 fighter jets, the semi-official Ugandan 'New
Vision' newspaper reported on Wednesday.

DRC: Resolution would "equip" 500 UN observers

A draft resolution to "equip" 500 military observers for the DRC was
circulated by some members of the UN Security Council at an informal
meeting on Wednesday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. The resolution would
authorise UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to equip the observers "with a
view to future deployment," the spokesman said. "I believe the members are
trying to come up with something that would be acceptable to all of them
and keep the United Nations role in the Congo moving forward, the next
step being the deployment of these 500," he told journalists in New York.
Meanwhile, Eckhard confirmed that four UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs)
arrived in rebel-held Gbadolite on Wednesday afternoon.

BURUNDI: Three dead in grenade attack on Bujumbura market

At least three people were killed in a grenade attack in Bujumbura's
central market on Tuesday. Burundi army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani
told IRIN the attack occurred around midday, and about 20 more people were
wounded. An unidentified man threw two grenades into the teeming market,
and in the ensuing panic he was able to run away. Only one grenade
exploded. Minani said the authorities did not yet know who was
responsible, but an investigation was underway. Regional analysts point
out this type of attack was fairly widespread during the violence of 1994
and 1995.

BURUNDI: Rebel attack repulsed in Bujumbura Rural

Minani also said about 15 rebels were killed when they attempted to stage
an attack on two army posts in Bujumbura Rural earlier on Tuesday.
However, the army was aware of the impending assault and managed to
repulse the attackers, he added. One Burundian army soldier was killed and
two injured. Minani added that security in the volatile province was
improving, but was unable to give a timetable for the return of regrouped
people to their homes.

BURUNDI: Choice of new mediator critical, report warns

Burundi analyst Jan van Eck of the South Africa-based Centre for Conflict
Resolution (CCR) has warned that unless a "genuinely new and acceptable"
mediation for the Burundi peace process is agreed upon at a regional
summit later next week, the prospects for durable peace will be extremely
remote. In his latest report, van Eck said the choice of mediator was
critical and the wishes of the Burundian government must be taken into
account. He noted increasing opposition among President Pierre Buyoya's
support base to continuing the Arusha process in view of the fact it had
produced few results, particularly in the field of security and economic
development. "Unless the new mediation is seen as more non-partisan and
produces results in these areas - especially security - this opposition is
likely to intensify and will eventually leave the government with no
choice but to withdraw from the mediation process," the report warned.

BURUNDI: Main parties push for Mandela mediation

Representatives of Burundi's influential Convergence nationale pour la
paix et la reconciliation (CNPR) - which groups together 10 parties within
the country including the main FRODEBU and UPRONA parties - have been
travelling in the region ahead of next week's Arusha summit to explain
their position on the peace talks mediation and their support for a team
of three facilitators, headed by former South African president Nelson
Mandela. FRODEBU leader Augustin Nzojibwami, who is also president of the
CNPR, told IRIN on Friday he believed they had the support of the
sub-region, although he pointed out they had only visited Uganda, Rwanda
and Kenya, whereas the summit would group 10 countries. "But it is
difficult to turn down Mandela," he said. Meanwhile, Jerome Ndiho
spokesman for the rebel CNDD-FDD - which has so far been excluded from the
peace process - told IRIN his group favoured a team of mediators, but
stressed there must be no dominant personality in the team. [For further
details please refer to separate IRIN item: "IRIN Focus on the Arusha

RWANDA: Request for Barayagwiza review welcomed

The Rwandan government on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the Prosecutor
of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Carla Del Ponte,
to request a review of the decision to release genocide suspect Jean-Bosco
Barayagwiza. "We welcome any attempt to ensure that the people responsible
for genocide and massacres in this country are brought to justice, so we
welcome the proposal of the Prosecutor to apply for a review of the
Barayagwiza decision," Prosecutor-General Gerald Gahima stated on Radio

However, there was no softening of Rwanda's stance that del Ponte would be
denied an entry visa while the Barayagwiza decision stood. "As long as it
is not reversed, we are not open to discussion. Their incompetence should
not be at the expense of justice for the Rwandese," the Internews agency
quoted foreign affairs spokesman Seth Kamanzi as saying.

RWANDA: IMF approves loan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a US $32.7 million loan
to support Rwanda's economic programme. In a press release, the IMF said
the loan, approved on Friday, was the second payment under the country's
three-year US $98 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF).
IMF directors "commended the authorities for maintaining macroeconomic
stability, improving fiscal management and transparency, and making
progress with structural reforms...despite a difficult security
environment", the release said. Rwanda had achieved "solid economic growth
and low inflation" and its recovery from the 1994 war "now seemed to be
almost complete", the IMF said. However, it stressed the importance of
improving tax administration, reducing defence outlays and proceeding
promptly with civil service reform, among other things. The impact of the
DRC conflict on Rwanda's economy has been limited, it added.

UGANDA: Army hunting Ikondere killers

State Minister for Defence Steven Kavuma on Tuesday said the Uganda
People's Defence Forces (UPDF) was searching for those responsible for the
14 November killing in eastern DRC of Lieutenant Colonel Reuben Ikondere.
"We are hunting for them inside Congo and we will bring them to book," the
'New Vision' quoted Kavuma as saying. "But this does not mean the UPDF
should pull out of Congo because a person has been killed, we are in Congo
because of our security concerns," he told the parliamentary committee on
defence and internal security. "It is very easy to fly from Gbadolite and
bomb Kasese, we have to protect those areas," he added.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Systematic rape of girls in "forgotten war"

Congolese children are facing "terrible suffering" in the country's
"forgotten war", the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict, Olara Otunnu, said last Thursday. There were reports of
widespread atrocities, including the systematic rape of young girls,
children returning to Brazzaville were malnourished, and many were
severely wounded, he said. Otunnu, speaking to journalists in New York on
the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, urged
the international community to give the Congo's humanitarian crisis "the
attention it deserved," a UN statement said. Meanwhile, humanitarian
sources told IRIN this week that the number of serious human rights abuses
reported against returning internally-displaced persons (IDPs) had
increased. Those abuses included summary executions and rapes, the sources

SUDAN: WFP warns of "looming crisis" in the south

WFP has warned of a "looming humanitarian crisis" in southern Sudan
because humanitarian agencies were being denied access to vulnerable
populations by government restrictions on humanitarian flights and
inter-factional fighting. Humanitarian agencies could not get access to
many areas of Western Upper Nile in October and November, "and 140,000
targeted and vulnerable people could not get their emergency food
assistance", the WFP representative in Sudan, Mohamed Saliheen, said on
Wednesday. "If this combination of factors continues, we could face the
same horrifying tragedy that happened in Bahr al-Ghazal last year,"
Saliheen said, referring to the famine which cost thousands of lives.

DJIBOUTI: Guelleh seeks IGAD endorsement for Somali peace plan

The Djibouti peace proposal for Somalia is scheduled to be a key item on
the agenda of an Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD)
summit meeting set for Friday, diplomatic sources told IRIN on Wednesday.
A document outlining peace proposals for Somalia is expected to be tabled
by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who is seeking endorsement from
IGAD heads of government. If Djibouti secures IGAD's endorsement, it would
then seek implementation of the arms embargo on Somalia, establishment of
a standing committee to consider an implementation plan and the creation
of a trust fund to support the peace process, the sources said.

ERITREA: Boycott of Djibouti-hosted IGAD summit

One of the IGAD members, Eritrea, will not be attending the organisation's
summit meeting this week because it claims the host country Djibouti "has
been making all sorts of accusations against it", its Nairobi embassy
spokesman Kidane Woldeyesus told IRIN. Djibouti President Ismail Omar
Guelleh last week warned of deteriorating relations between his country
and Eritrea, and said there was "almost a state of war" between the two.
"It would not be appropriate for us to take part in this context," Kidane
said on Tuesday. Eritrea is considered a key regional player in relation
to Somalia, not least because it has been consistently accused of arming
anti-Ethiopian factions there - a charge it has repeatedly denied.

ETHIOPIA: Government denies mistreating Eritreans, seizing property

Ethiopia has denied allegations of mistreating deported Eritreans and
confiscating their property. The Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi told IRIN
Eritrean citizens were "not subjected to any form of inhuman treatment"
and their rights to property were in no way affected. Ethiopia adhered to
international humanitarian laws and the ICRC had "full access to follow up
the whole exercise" of Eritreans being sent back to their country, the
embassy stated. "No property that belongs to any Eritrean has been
expropriated. Eritreans have been allowed to name legal agents of their
choice to take care of their property," it added.

SOMALIA: MSF suspends activities in Kismayo

The humanitarian relief NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is to
officially hand over management and responsibility of Kismayo hospital to
the Regional Health Board on Tuesday, 30 November, after suspending its
operations in the area due to sustained insecurity, a press release from
the agency stated last Friday. MSF said that, with insecurity preventing
the return of expatriate staff evacuated in June amid deteriorating
conditions, it could no longer fulfill its "fundamental principle of
guaranteeing the quality of healthcare through direct supervision" and had
to suspend its activities in Kismayo.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: RDC members killed in Kembe

Seven members of former president Andre Kolingba's opposition
Rassemblement democratique centrafricain (RDC) party were killed last week
by unidentified armed men in the eastern city of Kembe, some 450 km from
Bangui, diplomatic and media sources said. Those killed included an army
lieutenant, the head of the local gendarmerie and a vice-president of the
RDC youth movement, but the motive for the killings remained unclear. The
bodies were dumped in neighbouring towns and villages, one source told
IRIN. "Troops are being sent in Kembe and Dimbi today to protect the
civilians from this new wave of acts of banditry," Defence Minister
Jean-Jacques Demafouth said on state radio on Monday.

Nairobi, 26 November 1999, 13:45 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN
humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views
of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax:
+254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or
subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please
retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include
attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW
at: . Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

Item: irin-english-2049

[This item is delivered in the "irin-english" service of the UN's IRIN
humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views
of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or
to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post
this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Keyword: IRIN

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific