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IRIN Emergency Update No. 126 on the Great Lakes for 13 March 1997
* A plot against Burundi leader Pierre Buyoya - possibly planned by hard-line Tutsi military officers - appears to have been thwarted. Burundian state radio today announced that two military officers and four civilians have been arrested, charged with attempting to assasinate or overthrow the regime of Pierre Buyoya. It is not immediately clear when the arrests were made. Interior Minister Epitace Bayaganakandi said on state radio that the government "is in total control of the situation", and that an investigation was under way. Army spokesman Isaie Nibizi said that among the arrested people were a deserter of the Rwandan Patriotic Army and an executive committee member of PARENA, reports AFP. PARENA is the party of former president Jean Baptise Bagaza, who had until recently under house arrest in Bujumbura since mid-January. AFP today quoted an anonymous military source as saying that the planned "coup" was backed by officers in four military camps.
Three anti-tank landmines exploded in Bujumbura last night. Initial reports indicate at least four people were killed and two wounded when vehicles ran over the mines, hidden in potholes or on dirt roads. One went off outside a military base in central Bujumbura. The second explosion took place in Rohero II, a residential area. The third mine blew up in Kwijabe area. Some exchanges of fire were reported by local sources on the outskirts of town last night. A heavy military presence was reported around the town this morning. Mines have not recently been reported inside Bujumbura. No group has taken responsibility for the mines, and AFP reports Buyoya's spokeman, Jean-Luc Ndizeye, saying "I doubt the Hutu rebels are capable of laying mines in Bujumbura". The most serious recent insecurity in Bujumbura, resulting in at least seven deaths, occurred in Kamenge district during the night of February 24, report UN sources.
* The Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) claims it has taken control of Kongolo, situated on the Zaire river and the Lubumbashi-Kindu railway line about 150 km west of Kalemie.
Fighting continues on the road to Bafwasende. But in Kinshasa, Zairean Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo yesterday vowed to defend Kisangani. The Zairean defence ministry yesterday said it was "in control of the situation", and that rebels were no closer than 40 kilometres of Kisangani. Kengo claimed that "Kabila has won battles, but he has not won the war", reports Reuters. Zairean military authorities have sent reinforcements to Mbuji-Mayi and Lubao in Kasai, according to AFP.
* Refugees amassed at Ubundu are crossing the river from east to west in large numbers. Humanitarian sources indicate anywhere between 200 to 1,000 per hour are crossing the river and heading towards a new site, known only as Kilometre 95, 25 km north of Ubundu town on the west of the river. The Federation has taken up responsibility for some camp services, including establishing a field hospital and running distributions with Red Cross volunteers. About 75,000 Rwandan refugees, mainly from Tingi-Tingi have arrived at Ubundu so far.
The French Secretariat for Humanitarian Action Emergency Cell has sent the second of a planned three flights to Kisangani today with relief supplies for the refugees in Ubundu. A later flight will include a Zodiac boat for use in operations around Ubundu. Xavier Emmanuelli, French Secretary of State for Humanitarian Action, was quoted yesterday by AFP as saying "whole populations cannot be allowed to disappear under the pretext that they are in the way". France continues to urge an international humanitarian operation to relieve the plight of the refugees, but the US State Department has said it sees little "useful purpose" in attempting another military intervention and that intends to concentrate on promoting the ceasefire and helping the refugees. An EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels today is also expected to tackle the Zaire issue.
New logistics routes have been established by WFP to supply refugees in Ubundu and displaced people in Kisangani. The first IL-76 flight from Mwanza, Tanzania to the smaller municipal Kisangani airstrip carrying 30 tons of food succeeded today. This airstrip is better located, less militarized and more secure for relief supplies than the main airport outside the town. From Kisangani, delivery can be made by rail to Ubundu along the western side of the river. UNICEF has also used the rail route to deliver nutritional biscuits.
French NGO Action Contre la Faim has accused the international community of "totally abandoning hundreds of thousands of refugees" in eastern Zaire. In a statement issued yesterday, ACF said it the international community "seems to be dealing with the problem by letting them [the refugees] die." ACF also criticized both sides in the war, the rebels for denying access to populations in need, and Serbian mercenaries for threatening humanitarian teams on the Zairean government side.
Figures from UNHCR Kigali indicate that an average of 220 "new caseload" refugees returned to Rwanda every day in the first week of March.
* The state-run Kenya Times reports that authorities have "smashed" a "racket" in which "hundreds of foreigners" found their way illegally into Kenya. The report said that the Kenyan Immigration Department had cracked down on the practice, and that as well as Rwandans fleeing Zaire, Somalis had also been involved in similar schemes. Four Somalis were convicted yesterday of illegally entering Kenya and sentenced to a year in prison or a 40,000 Ksh fine, followed by deportation. See also IRIN Update 109 for background.
* Pabbo (total population about 30,000), a "protected village" 20 kilometres from Gulu in northern Uganda was attacked by rebels thought to be members of the Lord's Resistance Army, according to AFP. Eight people were reported killed, including two children. Up to 280,000 people are grouped into protected villages in northern Uganda, a figure which includes the resident populations of those settlements, in addition to displaced people. The settlements are defended by the Ugandan People's Defence Forces.
OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Gulu yesterday, according to the state-owned New Vision newspaper.
* Rwanda has again expressed scepticism about a proposed Great Lakes international conference, the idea of which has been supported most recently by the UN Security Council. Justice Minister Faustin Nteziryayo, speaking in Geneva at the UN Commission for Human Rights, said "we must not mix up the issues". He also accused Kenya of failing to extradite suspects in the 1994 genocide, and the International Criminal Trinubal for Rwanda of ineffectiveness, reports AFP.
* AFP reports that Rwandan authorities have given permission for Spanish police to go to Rwanda to investigate the deaths of three Spanish aid workers with Medecins du Monde in Ruhengeri in January.
* The total number of refugees in Tanzania is about 359,000. In addition to the 254,000 described in Kigoma region in IRIN Update 125, there are also about 105,000 in the Ngara region.
* Reports in the Uganda's Government-owned New Vision newspaper claim that the SPLA have captured Morobo, described as a strategic garrison town 13 kms north of Zaire's border with Sudan, along with a smaller garrison town at Tamala. The report says that Morobo and Tamala fell in the early hours of Wednesday morning after fighting between the SPLA and Sudanese Government troops, backed by West Nile Bank Front rebels. The Sudanese troops are reported to have retreated towards Yei, a garrison town further north which remains under Sudanese Government control. The SPLA's offensive, which began in earnest during the weekend of 8/9 March, has reportedly resulted in the SPLA capturing several towns along Sudan's border with Uganda: Kaya, Gumuli, Kajo-Keji, Foki, Kimba and Bazi.
Nairobi, 13 March 1997, 15:15 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 18:19:34 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 126 for 13 Mar 1997 97.3.13 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970313181600.14365S-ength: 8789
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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