Great Lakes: IRIN Update 153, 4/18/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 153, 4/18/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.153 on the Great Lakes (Friday 18 April 1997)

* In a major operation, the Ugandan army says it has repulsed an attack by Sudanese troops, killing 60 Sudanese soldiers and capturing 114, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported today. It said 68 Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army were also killed in the fighting. The incident took place at Lelabur, on Uganda's border with Sudan. 'New Vision' quoted Uganda's State Minister for Defence Amama Mbabazi who denied claims by Sudan yesterday that 306 Ugandans troops, including the second-in-command of the UPDF's Fourth Division, Lt Col Nakibus Lakara, had been killed in a battle 44 miles south of Juba on Tuesday. He said Col Lakara was still alive and on a mission to northern Uganda. Mbabazi said Uganda's interest in Sudan was limited to intelligence gathering. Only two days ago, Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya was quoted as saying Sudanese President Omar Bashir was ready to resume diplomatic ties with Kampala.

* Today's planned repatriation of the first batch of Rwandan refugees from Kisangani was postponed amid security incidents and after the governor of Haut Zaire province expressed concern that an outbreak of cholera among the refugees could spread beyond the camps. UNHCR has already explained that the 80 Rwandan children, who should have been airlifted to Goma today, came from the Biaro camp which was cholera-free. The first repatriations were due to take place from this camp, but a UNHCR spokesman today said Biaro had been placed under quarantine by the local authorities and it was unlikely a repatration would occur imminently. UNHCR officials fear that by delaying the repatriation, the refugees are more susceptible to contracting the disease which has flared up in the nearby Kasese camp.

The situation also took a more sinister turn today as local Zaireans, angry over what they saw as preferential treatment for the refugees, stoned UN cars and tried to prevent aid workers from reaching the refugee camps. The incident, which apparently began due to false rumours that refugees had killed Zaireans, later resolved itself. There was some intervention by the local military authorities. Several cars were damaged and some food stores were looted, including WFP stocks. Two local Zairean staff working for WFP were injured in the unrest. WFP said it had been experiencing growing insecurity problems with regard to its food stocks in Kisangani over the past few days. Rebels from the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL)on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the exercise, which is expected to last several months.

* Rumours and allegations are rife in the capital. Some reports allege Mobutu has compiled a hit list of opposition figures in the capital whom he wishes to eliminate. Yesterday, ADFL rebels accused Mobutu's regime of plotting to kill expatriates in Kinshasa to provoke intervention by western troops and thus avert a rebel victory in the capital. "Mobutu and his henchmen are planning to kill expatriates in Kinshasa with the help of the Military Action and Intelligence Service (SARM) and Special Presidential Division (DSP)," Kabila's "finance minister" Mawapanga Mwana Nanga announced in Lubumbashi. He alleged the killings were an attempt to draw in Belgian, French and US troops stationed in Congo. Speaking on behalf of Kabila, Mawapanga said "the president is not joking. This plan is well conceived and is to be carried out soon". He added that the rebels did not want any violence in Kinshasa. Western troops are on standby in neighbouring Congo, ready to evacuate expatriates in case of trouble.

* The euphoria of thousands of Lubumbashi residents turned to disappointment yesterday when rebel leader Laurent Kabila abandoned plans to address a long-awaited public rally in the city. Rebel radio had announced that Kabila would talk to the people yesterday, but rebel sources said the rally was called off because of developoments in South Africa, where it was announced that Kabila and President Mobutu Sese Seko would soon hold face to face talks. The South African president's office today announced that the talks would probably take place early next week, possibly in Cape Town.

However reports from Lubumbashi today said Kabila had ruled out protracted talks with Mobutu, reiterating that his troops would march on Kinshasa if the Zairean leader refused to cede power. "The South African initiative is about transfer of power," he said. "When he is ready for this, I shall go and attend a short day's ceremony on the peaceful transfer of power." The rebel leader stressed that "there will be no protracted negotiations with Mobutu. Never, never. Maybe we have been misunderstood. The issue is about transfer of power, otherwise we march on Kinshasa". Mobutu's son and spokesman, Nzanga, has expressed his father's willingness to meet Kabila, but discounted Mobutu's resignation, saying this would bring chaos to Zaire. Diplomats nevertheless believe a face to face meeting is necessary to avoid a battle for Kinshasa, which is home to about five million people. Kabila has predicted the Alliance will be in Kinshasa in three weeks' time.

* The US yesterday continued piling on the pressure for Mobutu to resign after the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging him to step down immediately and leave the country. The resolution also called on the warring sides to allow full access to humanitarian organisations helping refugees in Zaire. Mobutu had "turned his potentially prosperous country into one of the world's poorest, where human suffering long has been widespread," the resolution added.

* Former Zairean premier Kengo wa Dondo, under allegations of fleeing the country with state money, yesterday expressed support for negotiations to end the conflict. Speaking in Geneva, where he says he is undergoing medical treatment, Kengo told AFP he believed "the Zairean army has shown its weaknesses. We must move towards negotiations". He said he hoped to stand as a candidate in elections, once peace was established. Kengo has repeatedly denied fleeing the country and says he intends to return to Zaire after his visit to Europe.

* Meanwhile, the current Zairean premier Gen Likulia Bolongo called for "bringing sanity" into the administration of public finances. Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of deputy premier Gen Mahele, who is also defence minister, Likulia pledged to continue the peace negotiations, defend national integrity and restore state and civil order. Mahele for his part stressed the need to improve conditions for the security forces. "They are looking up to us for the provision of their needs, namely adequate equipment and better living conditions to enable them to better execute the mission assigned to them," he said. "The people of Zaire want to see military justice rigorously applied by the due punishment of soldiers found guilty of all kinds of crime," he added. "It is at this price and only at this price, that we will benefit from the providence of the country."

* The Zairean government, expressing indignation over the signing of a billion dollar mine accord between the rebels and an American mining company, has annulled the deal. A government statement, read out live on Zairean radio yesterday by Information Minister Kin Kiey Mulumba said only the "legally-established government" was authorised to engage in any venture and therefore the agreement signed with the American Minerals Fields Company (AMF) was null and void. The statement added that AMF had "consciously violated the regulations governing the signing of mining contracts and conventions" so the government was annulling projects in which AMF was involved. Rebel "finance minister" Mawapanga claimed the Zairean government had asked Belgian banks to freeze the accounts of the Zairean mining giant, Gecamines.

* Reactions to the easing of sanctions on Burundi began filtering through with the extremist Hutu group, CNDD, expressing "complete disappointment" over the move. CNDD spokesman Jerome Ndiho said the measure "unfortunately favours a military solution" to the Burundi conflict. He said the sanctions had served to pressurise military leader Pierre Buyoya into accepting "genuine negotiations". Buyoya, in comments broadcast by Burundi radio on his arrival back in Bujumbura, noted that Burundians could now travel freely to other countries, with whom relations had now been "normalised". He was of the opinion that there had not been a total lifting of sanctions "because many interests are at stake. The issue is about preserving the image of some people". Buyoya stressed that the regional sanctions committee would no longer be responsible for discussions on sanctions exemptions, which would now be held at bilateral level with individual governments. Rwandan radio noted that the ban on air transport to Burundi was still in force, but Burundians wishing to travel abroad could use the airports of other countries. Observers say Burundians, who have been celebrating the partial lifting, believe the sanctions are all but over.

* Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigyema, speaking on his return from the Arusha summit, confirmed he held talks with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, during which they were able to tackle the two countries' delicate bilateral relations. According to the prime minister, relations were not as bad as all that. The two men discussed the possibility of reopening embassies in each other's countries. "So, things are going well," he told Rwandan radio. Asked about the presence of genocide perpetrators in Kenya, Rwigyema replied that Kenya was not the only country harbouring such people.

* UNHCR reports that scores of Burundian refugees have been returning spontaneously from Tanzania's Ngara region. In March, 4,136 spontaneous returns were recorded and 1,889 returnees have so far been counted this month. UNHCR said that because of the security situation in Burundi, it was neither facilitating nor encouraging repatriation but it was providing assistance to those who had returned.

* Tanzania is taking action to halt an influx of fake and substandard medicines, many of them from India, the 'Express' newspaper reported yesterday. It quoted Pharmaceutical Registrar Mercy Kimaro as saying all human and veterinary drugs would have to be registered, and samples and formulae submitted to the government. The newspaper wrote that many Indian drugs were coming into Tanzania bearing European labels.

Nairobi, 18 April 1997, 15:30 gmt


[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: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 18:25:23 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 153 for 18 Apr 1997 97.4.18 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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