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IRIN Emergency Update No. 104 on the Great Lakes for 18 February 1997
* Representatives from Zaire's crisis government and the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) will meet in South Africa for talks this week, President Nelson Mandela. He said the talks may begin as soon as Thursday, reports Reuters. Mandela said South Africa would send air transport to pick up Zairean rebel leader, Laurent-Desire Kabila, from Kigali, Rwanda.
* Six foreign ministers from African countries are meeting in Kinshasa today to discuss the Great Lakes crisis. Ministers from South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Congo, Zimbabwe and Cameroon will be joined by representatives from the Organisation of African Unity.
* Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council unamimously adopted resolution (1097), in an emergency session on February 18. The resolution contains a five-point peace plan for the Great Lakes region, calling for:
o immediate cessation of hostilities o withdrawal of all external forces, including mercenaries o reaffirmation of respect for the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Zaire and other states of the Great Lakes region o protection and security for all refugees and displaced persons and facilitation of access for humanitarian assistance o rapid and peaceful settlement of the crisis through dialogue, the electoral process and the convening of an international conference of peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region
The resolution followed a peace plan proposed by Joint Special Representative of the Secretary-Generals of the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, and was based on a Security Council statement of 7 February 1997. Since being appointed Sahnoun has held talks with various parties in the conflict, including Zairean President Mobutu, members of his crisis government, and regional leaders.
Mohamed Sahnoun, who had extended his stay in Kinshasa, arrived in Kigali today. He is expected to meet with the President and Vice-President of Rwanda, members of parliament and aid representatives. When asked in a press briefing if he would meet with rebel leader Kabila, Sahnoun said he would not rule it out.
Although there has been no official Rwandan government statement on the resolution, Claude Dusaidi, advisor to Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame, said the UN peace plan had failed to take into account the views of the rebels: "This is clearly absurd because even if neighbours like us agree to the proposals, they would be useless without the agreement or consent of the rebel group".
* Zairean Foreign Minister Kamanda wa Kamanda today called the resolution "timid". He said there could be no cessation of hostilities without a withdrawal of all foreign troops, reports Reuters. Kamanda wa Kamanda told Reuters that the resolution did not specify how the withdrawal of foreign troops would be accomplished or monitored: "This is a timid advance. We sincerely regret that this resolution does not condemn the aggressors". Zaire's representative at the the United Nations had said it was essential that the peace plan was accepted by all the Great Lakes countries and not just Zaire. Zaire sees conflict in the east as a "war of agression" involving neighbouring states, not a "civil war".
* After threatening to continue air-strikes in rebel-held territory, eastern Zaire, a spokesman from the Zairean Defence Ministry yesterday called on citizens to leave the rebel zone to avoid bombing raids, reported Radio France Internationale.
* Local officials in Bukavu - bombed on Monday - have encouraged people to return through local radio broadcasts. Representatives of the rebel ADFL issued reassurances that the town would be protected by anti-aircraft weapons. Yesterday was described as "calm", though an alert was sounded when jets were heard flying over a town 30 kilometers from Bukavu. There has been no subsequent evacuation by humanitarian agencies; there has been no revision in security rating by the UN.
* United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said in a press briefing yesterday that UNHCR may have to consider flying weak refugees out of Tingi-Tingi camp, eastern Zaire. The death rate - of about 40 a day - consists mainly of children and infants. Ogata called for international pressure to be put on all parties to prevent an attack on or militarization of Tingi-Tingi camp. Tingi-Tingi camp, which holds about 150,000 Rwandans, is already suffering from military interference and the presence of armed Rwandans. UNHCR is under pressure to devise a way of separating out armed Rwandan militia from genuine refugees; failure to do this since 1994 is widely seen as one of the main reasons for the recent escalation of conflict in the Great Lakes region.
* Some 25,000 Rwandan and Burundian refugees four kilometres outside Kalima have been provided with basic structures and shelter. The refugees were prevented by the Zairean military from going into the town, and were offered a site to prevent disruption of local water and food supplies. A humanitarian source in the region described the refugees as "nervous" as the site was near to the front line.
* An Amnesty International press release said today there had been a significant increase in incidents of human rights abuses in Rwanda since the forced mass repatriation of refugees from Zaire and Tanzania, November and December 1996. An Amnesty International delegation reported killings "on an almost daily basis". It said the killings included an increase in unlawful executions by the Rwandese Patriotic Army, as well as killings of civilians by armed groups believed to be composed of soldiers of the former Rwandese army and Interahamwe militia. Amnesty International also says there have been killings of Hutu civilians by Tutsi civillians. Speaking on BBC radio, Rwanda government advisor, Claude Dusaidi, called the report "a figment of the imagination". The release comes at a time when other reports have focused on killings of genocide survivors and members of the Rwandan judiciary system.
* Rwandan security forces say they have arrested five of the suspected killers of four UN human rights monitors in western Rwanda, a UN human rights office spokesman said on Monday. Jose Herrero, spokesman for UNHRFOR, said two others suspected of the killings - including the ringleader - were shot dead by Rwandan troops. The four UN monitors, and their driver, were killed in an ambush on February 4.
* A court in Rwanda yesterday acquitted a suspect accused of genocide, the first acquittal of genocide charges in a Rwandan court. Radio Rwanda reported that Israel Nemeyimana, accused of murder, had been found not guilty. The court, in Gikongoro, southern Rwanda, sentenced six people to life imprisonment for their part in the genocide.
* A statement issued in Brussels by the European Union on February 17 said it fully supported current mediation efforts of African leaders, and called on all parties to the eastern Zaire conflict to negotiate an immediate cease-fire and facilitate humanitarian access. The European Union stated five principles which referred to: respect for territorial integrity of borders; respect for the rights of citizens; voluntary repatriation of refugees in complaince with humanitarian law; compliance with the principle of non-agression between States; and, democratization of all countries in the region, including free and fair elections.
Nairobi, 19 February 1997, 15:35 GMT [ENDS]
[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 18:37:42 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 104 for 19 Feb 1997 97.2.19 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970219183511.26356Ofirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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