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IRIN Emergency Update No. 105 on the Great Lakes for 20 February 1997
* Representatives from the Zairean government and the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) have reportedly arrived in South Africa, but the South African government says no details will be released at this stage. In Johannesburg, President Nelson Mandela's official spokesman, Parks Mankahlana, would only say that South Africa's role was to "consult with various parties involved in the conflict". Reuters reports South African Director General of Foreign Affairs, Rusty Evans, as saying that there was great reluctance from both parties to acknowledge a willingness to negotiate.
* There are at least four initiatives to resolve the Zairean and Great Lakes crises which came to the fore today. They are:
o anticipated face-to-face talks today between representatives of the Zairean government and the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) in South Africa, hosted but not brokered by President Nelson Mandela. US embassy officials confirmed that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose, and US National Security Council Senior Director for Africa, Susan Rice, were in Cape Town to "bolster the process", reports Reuters.
o a returning mission today of African Foreign Ministers from Kinshasa, who have been mandated by a regional summit (Nairobi II) and a ministerial meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, to follow up on the Great Lakes crisis. The delegation consisted of Foreign Ministers from Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim, and representation from Cameroon and Congo. In a joint statement issued today, the delegation said they had discussed the possibility of a "Nairobi III" summit, and had up-dated the Zairean authorities on issues raised in regional summits on territorial integrity, inviolability of national borders, immediate cessation of hostilities, and withdrawal of foreign troops. The statement said the UN-sponsored peace plan could be discussed within the context of an "enlarged regional summit".
o the five-point peace plan, endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 1097 (February 18) which is being pursued by Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, who was in Kigali, Rwanda, today. He is scheduled to pass briefly through Nairobi tonight before flying on to Geneva. The plan calls for: immediate cessation of hostilities; withdrawal of all external forces, including mercenaries; reaffirmation of respect for the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Zaire and other States of the Great Lakes region; protection and security of all refugees and displaced persons and facilitation of access to humanitarian assistance; and, rapid and peaceful settlement of the crisis through dialogue, the electoral process and the convening of an international conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region. There has been a mixed regional response to the UN peace plan, which has strong international backing.
o Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is in Cape Town, South Africa, has called on parties to the conflict to declare a cease-fire and make preparations for elections in Zaire. Museveni says it was his idea that representatives from the Zairean government and rebels should meet, reports AFP. President Museveni was in Cape Town after holding talks with Presidents Mandela of South Africa, Chissano of Mozambique, Masire of Botswana and Mugabe of Zimbabwe (February 19) on regional issues, including the Zaire crisis.
* UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the efforts by South African President Nelson Mandela to arrange face-to-face talks between Zairean government representatives and the rebel ADFL. He expressed hope that the meeting "would actually take place". AP reports Western diplomats saying that the South African government had been seeking a role in the crisis for some time; it is the first time Mandela has accepted the mantle of African statesman in a conflict outside South African borders.
* Zairean Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo told Reuters on Wednesday that he was "unaware" of any emissary sent by President Mobutu to meet the rebel leader. Kengo wa Dondo has been resolutely opposed to negotiations with the rebels. Diplomatic sources anticipate Honore Ngbanda - a close security advisor to President Mobutu - will attend the talks. South African newspapers have reported that Ngbanda is in Cape Town in preparation for talks. The representative of the ADFL reportedly left by private plane from Kigali for Cape Town on Wednesday night, but it is now thought unlikely that Laurent-Desire Kabila will himself represent the ADFL in the talks. * The Chairman of the Regional Sanctions Co-ordinating Committee (RSCC) confirmed in writing yesterday that the RSCC meeting in Lusaka on 14 February 1997 approved requests for "defined" fuel importation to Burundi for the use of UN agencies and NGOs. The Committee approved diesel, petrol and Jet A-1 fuel supplies amounting to 485,950 litres per month. The Committee said importation would have to be done "strictly through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania". No other expansion of exemptions has been granted.
* Thirteen people were killed when gunmen attacked a town in southwestern Burundi on Monday night, state-run Burundi radio reported on Tuesday. Most of those killed were women and children. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said about 50 gunmen entered Mugara town late on Monday when most of the male residents were out on a security patrol.
* On Tuesday, United Sates State Department spokesman Glyn Davis condemned Zairean government air raids on rebel-held centres. In a news briefing, Davis condemned air raids and other acts of violence saying it would only serve to perpetuate the conflict, reports Reuters. The death toll from air-raids in Bukavu has risen to 19; Reuters says more bodies have been pulled from the rubble since the original death toll of nine on Monday.
* In Rwanda, three people were shot dead in Kibuye prefecture, commune Mabanza, on February 17, after a group of 30 armed men stopped two public service vehicles. According to sources in Rwanda, people from the vehicles were separated, Tutsi from Hutu. Three Tutsis were killed. The vehicles were burnt and money stolen from travelling traders; a driver was wounded. Unconfirmed reports from the prefecture said the group of uniformed armed men said they were fighting for "a takeover" and announced the names of two people they were targetting in the military and the local administration.
* The Rwandan government has responded to an Amnesty International (AI) report (February 19) saying its allegations are "unfounded" and questioning its research methods. The AI statement placed most of the blame for recent killings on human rights violations by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). IPS quotes political advisor to the Rwandan government, Claude Dusaidi saying AI was "on record as defending genocide criminals" - a reference to the recent report released by London-based African Rights critisising AI for calling a man charged with rape, murder and mutilation, a "prisoner of conscience".
* Lieutenant-Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, former commander of military operations in Rwanda's Gisenyi prefecture, and Ferdinand Nahimana, former director of Radio Television des Milles Collines, pleaded not guilty to all charges against them in the Arusha International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda yesterday. Nsengiyumva is said to have presided over a meeting in Gisenyi prefecture, during which he ordered the killing of civilians. Nahimana is, among other counts, charged with having control over broadcasts designed to "achieve inter-ethnic hatred and encourage the population to kill and commit other acts of violence".
Nairobi, 20 February 1997, 16:10 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1997 19:22:08 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 105 for 20 Feb 1997 97.2.20 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970220191400.681Gemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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