Great Lakes: IRIN Update 161, 4/30/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 161, 4/30/97

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No.161 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 30 April 1997)

* As Zairean rebels pressed on towards Kinshasa, diplomatic endeavours continued to bring about direct talks between rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila and President Mobutu Sese Seko. However, yesterday's hopes that the talks would finally be held appeared to be dashed today after Mobutu's son and spokesman, Nzanga, told BBC radio his father had rejected the meeting. The South African foreign ministry announced yesterday both sides had agreed to meet aboard a South African naval vessel in international waters, probably in the next few days, and the talks would be mediated by President Nelson Mandela. Apparently Mobutu objected to the ship as a venue. Nzanga pointed out his father had already accepted Gabon as a location.

US envoy to the UN, Bill Richardson, shuttling between Mobutu and Kabila, who leads the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), headed off to Lubumbashi yesterday to meet the rebel leader. He was due back in Kinshasa today for further talks with Mobutu, after an initial meeting yesterday morning. Richardson was also due to visit the refugee camps in Kisangani today. No statement was issued following the three-hour long talks between Kabila and Richardson, but the latter commented afterwards that no military solution was possible in Zaire. Richardson said he also discussed the refugee crisis with Kabila. The rebel leader said if it could be proved that his troops were responsible for killing refugees, they would be punished. According to Richardson, Kabila had said he was "flexible" over the deadline for repatriating the Rwandan refugees from Kisangani, after having given humanitarian workers 60 days to carry out the operation. Kabila reportedly added that he would facilitate the work of aid agencies. Richardson is due to arrive in Paris on Friday for talks with the French foreign ministry before returning to Washington.

The US State Department yesterday reiterated that it was time for Mobutu to go. "It is imperative that the Zaireans move onto something better and something more durable," spokesman Nicholas Burns said. The USA, he said, hoped this would be a democracy, via elections. Burns also expressed concern over reported killings of refugees by rebel soldiers, stressing that the ADFL "must bear responsibility for what happens to innocent people in the region that they occupy". Meanwhile, in Luxembourg Emma Bonino, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, spoke of a "deliberate strategy" to wipe out the refugees in Zaire. She told a news conference yesterday there was "little doubt that human rights abuses are being perpetrated against refugees".

* France has said it will pay for a UN investigation into alleged human rights abuses in rebel-held territory. The mission, set up by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission, is expected to travel to the area next week and intends to submit a report to the UN General Assembly by the end of June. France also joined the UN and USA in condemning Kabila's 60-day deadline for repatriating the refugees.

The human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, has urged the international community to pressure the Zairean government and the ADFL rebels to allow "full, unhampered, international investigations of the allegations of widespread civilian massacres in eastern Zaire". A report issued by HRW earlier this week said the Zairean government had failed to adhere to the agenda of democratisation and the ADFL had a "dubious record in establishing civilian administrations and regional governments" in areas under its control. It called on both sides to prevent attacks on civilian targets in military operations.

* More and more refugees, who fled their camps last week, are said to be emerging from the forests at Kilometre 41 around Biaro camp, south of Kisangani. The rebels have brought several hundred refugees by train from the camp to Kisangani in preparation for their repatriation to Rwanda. Emmanuel Kamanzi, who is in charge of ADFL relations with the UN, said this was the Alliance's reply to accusations that it had been prohibiting repatriation operations. "This is how we are showing that we can carry out the repatriation," he said. "If the UN isn't able to handle it, we are going to ask help from local Zairean agencies. We are going to do it without the UN."

A further 400-500 children arrived in Kisangani from Biaro by train today and UNHCR is making arrangements for two Ilyushins to fly them out to Kigali later in the day. A Twin Otter is scheduled to fly another 173 children to Gisenyi today, UNHCR said. The agency added that when the refugees saw its officials offloading plastic sheeting in Biaro yesterday, they pleaded to be repatriated to Rwanda, saying they did not want the camp to be set up. Four UNHCR trucks carrying food and commodities are due to head for Biaro today, although the road is reportedly very difficult after heavy rain in the area.

* On the military front, the ADFL claimed to have taken the strategic town of Kikwit yesterday, about 500 kms east of Kinshasa. A rebel spokesman in Lubumbashi said fighting lasted several hours and rebel troops were in control of the airport, said to be the scene of resistance by Zairean soldiers yesterday. A priest living in Kikwit told Radio France Internationale that 500 "very disciplined young soldiers...with sophisticated weapons" had entered the town and claimed FAZ troops had fled the advance, leaving behind food and weapons. As yet, there has been no government reaction to the claim.

* Reporters Sans Frontieres said the editor of the privately-owned Rwandan bi-monthly 'Umuravumba' was murdered by two unidentified individuals on Sunday. Appolos Hakizimana was shot dead as he was returning home in Kigali's Nyamirambo district after first being bound and gagged by his assailants. Hakizimana, who was the former editor of the privately-owned weekly 'Intego', was the target of an attempted kidnapping three weeks earlier, RSF said. Neighbours intervened as he was being forced at gunpoint to enter a waiting vehicle. On 30 July 1996, he was arrested and charged with being a member of the Interahamwe but was released a few weeks later.

* In Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has a new deputy prosecutor. The UN appointed Cameroonian lawyer Bernard Acho Muna to replace Honore Rakotomanana of Madagascar who resigned after strong UN criticism of his performance during the genocide trials.

* East African leaders launched a common flag and regional passport during a meeting in Arusha yesterday to discuss closer economic integration. Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda reviewed a comprehensive action plan aimed at guiding the integration process through to the year 2000. Moi said he hoped economic integration would lead to a political federation in East Africa.

* An outbreak of cholera in the Tanzanian capital Dar-es-Salaam has killed at leat 92 people since January. Regional commissioner Brig-Gen Hussan Ngwilizi said the disease was spreading rapidly due to poor sanitation in the city.

* Uganda's economic upturn continued as Italy agreed to reschedule 67 per cent of the 67bn Ugandan shillings owed to it by Kampala. Ugandan radio said the debt would now be repaid over 30 years at an interest rate that would ensure its net present value is reduced by 67 percent. Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that economic performance had been good, with a high rate of investments, earnings and growth. Major donors and financing agencies had accepted the government's 10-year road development programme, he said. As a result, the government would spend over 800bn shillings on road improvement over the next five years.

* A Sudanese newspaper reported yesterday that government troops had recaptured the town of Marasit, south of Tokar, from Eritrean forces. 'Al-Sudan Al-Hadith' did not say when the town was taken, but claimed the Eritrean forces had suffered "huge losses in lives and equipment". The "attacking Eritrean troops" were chased from the area, the paper added.

Nairobi, 30 April 1997, 14:00 gmt [ENDS]

[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: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 17:02:05 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 161 for 30 Apr 1997 97.4.30 Message-ID: <>

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

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