Great Lakes: IRIN Update 146, 4/9/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 146, 4/9/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 146 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 9 April 1997)

* Zairean Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi was dismissed by President Mobutu Sese Seko, seven days after his appointment on 2 April, and picked up by soldiers amidst street demonstrations by thousands of Tshisekedi supporters today in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi was attempting to enter the building which houses the office of the Prime Minister. BBC World Service reports state that Tshisekedi, slightly injured, has been returned to his house. Police and soldiers with armoured cars had sealed off the building and fired tear gas as Tshisekedi approached the building. Security forces beat demonstrators and, according to some sources, injured foreign journalists. Sources in Kinshasa say that some roadblocks have been set up by Tshisekedi supporters. President Mobutu Sese Seko has immediately appointed another Prime Minister, former Defence Minister and deputy Prime Minister, General Likulia Bolongo.

President Mobutu announced a nationwide state of emergency last night, state radio reported today. A state of emergency (announced last year) covering North and South Kivu had been extended, the report said. Mobutu also appointed military governors to the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Zaire, Equateur, Kasai Occidental and Kinshasa. The constitutional implications of today's events are still unclear.

* BBC radio reports that rebels of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) have entered Lubumbashi to a "tumultuous" welcome. Government troops were reported to have fled, after commandeering vehicles. The heaviest fighting was reported to have taken place at Mount Simba, on the southern outskirts of the town. Rebels of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) had captured Likasi, about 100 kms northwest of Lubumbashi, AFP reported today. Zairean state radio yesterday claimed that the Zairean Armed Forces (FAZ) had successfully defended Kipushi, the border town southwest of Lubumbashi, contrary to rebel claims, and further denied that mortar fire was heard near Lubumbashi airport yesterday morning.

ADFL leader Laurent Desire Kabila admitted yesterday that his forces had encountering "fierce resistance" from Special Presidential Division (DSP) troops at Lubumbashi. He told journalists in Mbuji-Mayi that the Alliance would have "taken the country" when "Kinshasa has been cut from its richest territories," AFP reports. He also claimed to have an army of 40,000 men.

* Quoting a Belgrade daily newspaper, AFP reports that an unspecified number of dead or wounded Serbian mercenaries were flown to Belgrade, Serbia, on a Ukrainian aircraft last Sunday.

* US diplomats have indirectly called upon President Mobutu to resign. George Moose, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs told Congress yesterday that "Mobutu, his regime is a thing of the past." Today, State Department spokesman Mike McCurry said today that Mobutu is about to become "a creature of history." The US had supported Mobutu for most of his period of rule.

* UNICEF have identified 460 unaccompanied minors amongst the refugees between Ubundu and Kisangani who are without any adult supervision, and are taking care of them. UNHCR reports a decline in mortality amongst the refugees from 180 on Sunday to about 70 deaths on Tuesday thanks to medical and other interventions by aid agencies.

* According to diplomatic sources, talks are underway between representatives of Rwanda, UNHCR and the ADFL in Kisangani to discuss the planned air repatriation of refugees from Kisangani to Rwanda. Dr Ephraim Kabaija, the President of the Rwandan repatriation commission, is reported to be representing the Rwandan government.

* A UN-contracted truck carrying relief biscuits and therapeutic milk destined for refugees was looted by local people just outside Kisangani on Monday. A further five trucks were held up at the same point by the local population yesterday. The situation was resolved with the intervention of the local authorities. Sources say the killing of Zairean traders at Lula last week, allegedly by refugees, and general resentment on the part of the local population towards the refugees contributed to the holdup.

* Talks in South Africa were adjourned yesterday between the Zairean government and the ADFL and a communique was issued listing five "points of convergence". Joint UN/OAU Special representative Mohamed Sahnoun said that further consultations were taking place. While agreeing on the "need for a ceasefire", no actual cessation of hostilities was announced.

The five points in the communique are summarized as follows: the urgent need to address serious issues of political structure and governance; negotiations to bring about a peaceful, political solution to the conflict; a committment to the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty; the need for fundamnetal democratic change in Zaire and a process of transition leading to transparent, fair and inclusive elections; ways and means of promoting good inter-state relations for regional stability.

* The ICRC has confirmed that the organization has registered 102,446 detainees in Rwanda. Of these, 63,920 were held in prisons and 38,526 in communal lock-ups. In a report issued from Geneva yesterday, ICRC estimates that the actual number of detainees is "several thousand" higher, as there is a delay between the time of arrests and registration. Overcrowding is "growing worse by the week", especially in the lock-ups, reports ICRC. The ICRC supports prisoners at the request of the Ministry of Justice with food, soap, blankets, jerrycans and plates and cups. Other ICRC activities in Rwanda include care and tracing for unaccompanied children, a housing project for genocide survivors, income-generating projects and school feeding.

* Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu in a speech on the anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide said that the international community "should also contribute in the reconstruction of Rwanda as some of its members contributed to make genocide possible." He said, according to Radio Rwanda that "part of Rwanda was being buried with the victims of genocide in the hope that the country would regain its positive cultural values and nationhood."

* Amnesty International has raised "grave doubts" about the fairness of trials conducted in Rwanda on charges of genocide. In a 25-page report released yesterday, the human rights organization states that while the fact that trials are taking place "represents a significant step in restoring justice in Rwanda, the serious flaws in both law and practice put at risk the lives of those charged..." Amnesty raises concerns about the Organic Law (see IRIN Special Feature on Rwandan trials 19 Feb 97), the conduct of the first trials, the appeals process and sentencing, including the death penalty. The limited training of judicial officials and the lack of facilities for defendents to prepare a defence also come in for criticism in the report. "The establishment of an adequately trained, permanent body of Rwandese defence lawyers is essential" the report says, observing the trials in which defence lawyers are present, are "characterized by greater respect for proper procedures."

* Radio Burundi reported yesterday fighting in Mabanda commune, Makamba province bordering Tanzania. Rebels attacked military positions at Gihoro and Mugina military positions. Gihoro was attacked on Friday 4 April and Mugina on Sunday 6 April. Fighting between a reported 1,000 rebels ("genocidal terrorists") and the third and sixth commando battalion continued on Monday, the report stated.

Insecurity is also reported in Rumonge commune (southwest Burundi) and Radio Burundi reports that the bodies of 12 "assailants" were found on Sunday after an attack was repelled on Saturday night. Again on Saturday night, a displaced people's camp at Busaga in Burambi commune was attacked and two people killed, the report stated.

Burundi radio further reported that two anti-tank mines, four anti-personnel mines, two grenades and two guns had been seized by security forces during house-house searches in Bujumbura. Bujumbura's mayor, Pie Ntiyankundiye said "the work continues."

Nairobi, 9 April 1997, 16:15 GMT


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Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 19:27:37 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 146 for 9 Apr 1997 97.4.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970409192249.6919V-Length: 9038

Editor: Ali Dinar,