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IRIN Emergency Update No. 125 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 12 March 1997)
* Contacts between Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) rebels and the Zairean opposition are increasing. Jacques Matanda, a key member of Tshisekedi's entourage arrived in Kampala a week and a half ago, according to well-placed sources in Uganda. Since his arrival, he has allegedly had regular meetings with representatives of the ADFL stationed in Kampala. According to a Zairean opposition paper Umoja, Joseph Olenghankoy, leader of the opposition group in the HCR-PT parliament and the national leader of the FONUS party, is out of Zaire and is reportedly meeting with ADFL representatives. Olenghankoy is also considered to be a key member of Tshisekedi's entourage. At a press conference last Saturday, FONUS called for tripartite negotiations between Mobutu, Kabila and Tshisekedi to end the current crisis. The UDPS opposition paper, Tempete Des Tropiques, reported that the national secretary of Tshisekedi's UDPS party, Ms Justine Mpoyo Kasavubu recently meet with rebel leader Laurent Kabila in Goma. Ms Kasavubu is the daughter of Zaire's first President Joseph Kasavubu and has not returned to Zaire since the death of her father. She represents the UDPS in Europe. Her arrival in Goma apparently occasioned the "red carpet treatment" from the ADFL. UDPS claims this visit is part of their peace initiative aimed at solving the current crisis.
* As the siege of Kisangani continues, Zairean rebels allegedly associated with the ADFL have been reported on other fronts. Recently, members of the Gendarmes Katanganist have allegedly been spotted in Bukavu with the ADFL forces, according to Zairean press and other sources. They are members of the former Shaba seccessist forces who were defeated by Mobutu in the 1977 and 1978 Shaba wars. Following their defeat, the Gendarmes joined forces with the Angolan government. Their numbers, according to Zairean newspaper Le Palmares, between 1,500 to 4,000 strong, have since been reinforced by new recruits from Zaire.
Military forces have also been spotted in Cabinda, an enclave annexed to Angola and located on the Atlantic coast sandwiched between Congo and Zaire. According to the Zairean paper La Reference le Plus, General Estanislau Miguel Boma, the commander-in-chief of the Cabinda army (Force Armee Cabindist-FAC), claimed that there is a large concentration of well armed military personnel in Cabinda. These soldiers are reportedly Swahili speakers who do not speak a word of Portuguese. He claimed that they appear to be waiting for orders to move on Zaire.
* AFP reported today that the US State Department has authorised the voluntary departure of dependents of US Embassy employees in Zaire and has urged US citizens in Zaire to consider carefully their personal security. It has also advised US citizens to defer travel to Zaire.
* French President Jacques Chirac, denounced a "conspiracy of silence" on Zaire yesterday and appealed to the international community to force a ceasefire and undertake urgent humanitarian action. A spokesman for Chirac said that the humanitarian situation in eastern Zaire was tragic and that no-one can ignore it any longer. France has favoured the deployment of a multi-national force to restore order in eastern Zaire, a call which has been not well-received by both the US and Britain. The US State Department told correspondents yesterday that it shared France's sense of frustration with the situation in Zaire, but favoured "political persuasion" over the deployment of a multi-national force. Nicholas Burns, a spokesman for the Department said that the US is urging Kabila to accept a ceasefire and speed up the delivery of relief assistance. Canada, which took the initative in putting together the multi-national force last year is adopting a wait and see attitude. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Canada would consider the request if it were made by the Security Council. The President of Madagascar, Didier Ratsiraka warned yesterday that if Zaire were to break up, Nigeria and other African countries could follow suit. Following a meeting with President Chirac he said: "We must settle things as soon as possible to prevent (the troubles) spreading". * South African President Nelson Mandela will probably attend a summit with Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko and other African leaders, a presidential spokesman said. The summit which is tentatively planned for Wednesday or Thursday is scheduled to take place in Nairobi. South Africa, meanwhile, says it is pressing ahead with its efforts to bring peace to Zaire but says that "has no magic formula". Deputy Foreign Miniuster Aziz Pahad said that South Africa was in constant touch with the Joint OAU/UN Special Representative, Mohamed Sahnoun and its next course of action would be based on his advice.
* The first Rwandan minors accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda may go on trial in Kigali at the end of April, UNICEF reported yesterday. Special courts have been set up to hear the cases and members of the NGO Lawyers Without Borders have received special training in prosecuting and defending the cases. A UNICEF fact sheet said that some 2,000 minors were waiting to go on trial for offences connected with the 1994 genocide. None of the children will be tried under the first category of genocide crimes, which carries an automatic death sentence. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of December 31 1996, some 2,137 children, including 72 girls, were being held in Rwandan prisons. An additional 568 children are accompanying their mothers, who are in prison under charges of genocide. The figure also does not take into account 197 boys who were under the age of 14 at the time of the crime and are not considered criminally responsible, but are being detained nevertheless. Many are being held in a special wing of Kabuga prison and a number of detention centres, most of which have been rehabilitated by UNICEF.
* There are some 254,000 refugees in Tanzania. Since 1993, Kasulu district alone has seen a large influx of refugees from Burundi and now Zaire. Some 113,000 refugees are sheltered in 3 camps: Mtabila (27,000 Burundians), Moyovosi (40,000 Burundians) and Nyarugusu (45,000 Zaireans). Following the ADFL offensive in late 1996, some 1,000 to 1,500 refugees have arrived in the area daily. The Burundian refugees have been crossing directly from Burundi into Kasulu. However, around 80% of the new arrivals are Zaireans. They arrive along the shore of lake Tanganika from where UNHCR collects them by boat and transfers them to Kigoma transit centres. Many believe that there are an even greater number of Zaireans who have not made it to the refugee centres. Refugees from Zaire are thought to be still crossing the lake, although agencies believe that the numbers are declining. ADFL rebels now control almost all of the western shore of lake Tanganyika. Aid workers in the area have said that the opening of new camps has not kept up with the demand. Many of the new camps have only a limited capacity, which fill up quickly. Many of the transit centres in Kigoma town are overcrowded, some containing 2 to 3 times their normal capacity. The logistic capacity to transfer the refugees from the transit centres to the camps is also said to be inadequate to the need.
Nairobi, 12 March 1997, 15:30 gmt [ENDS]
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Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 18:57:17 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 125 for 12 Mar 1997 97.03.12 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970312185452.9455O-ength: 8174
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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