Great Lakes: IRIN Update 176, 5/19/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 176, 5/19/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

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IRIN Emergency Update No.176 on the Great Lakes (19 May 1997)

* The leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, said in Kinshasa today it would set up a constituent assembly within two months to draft a new constitution. Deo Bugera, secretary-general of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), said the new government would derive its authority from village-level democracy. But correspondents say he did not set a date for elections and evaded the question of whether other political parties would be allowed to participate in the government. Self-proclaimed President Laurent-Desire Kabila remains at his headquarters at Lubumbashi. * Thousands of students marched through the capital Kinshasa today singing and cheering in celebration of the ADFL's victory, AFP reported. The BBC reported some "ugly scenes" of mob justice against looters and soldiers. CNN said soldiers from Mobutu's army who had not surrendered were being hunted down and there were some summary executions. Two newspapers, 'Reference Plus' and 'Potentiel' reappeared on the streets of the capital today. Certain articles urged Kabila to include leading opposition figures in his government and warned that Zaireans were wary of his support from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, AFP said.

* Uncertainty remains over the whereabouts of ousted President Mobutu Sese Seko. Journalists said the plane that brought him and his entourage to the Togolese capital Lome today took off again hours later without him on board. The plane's destination was not known and the Togolese authorities would neither confirm nor deny Mobutu's presence in Lome. A diplomat at the Zairean embassy in Paris told AFP Mobutu wants to settle at his villa on the French Riviera.

* South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki returned home today saying he was "satisfied" with his meeting yesterday with Kabila in Lubumbashi. He announced that South Africa would recognise the new government. Other countries who followed with their recognition of the new regime include Japan, Iran, Libya, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Sudan.

* The South African news agency SAPA reported today that the South African company De Beers has re-opened its diamond buying office in Mbuji-Mayi. The move signals an apparent change of approach by the ADFL, who last month said they were not happy with De Beers' monopoly position in the diamond industry.

* The UNHCR repatriated 1,975 Rwandan Hutu refugees on Saturday from Kisangani, eastern Zaire, bringing to 30,165 refugees returned to Rwanda. The temporary breakdown of the ferry across the Zaire river prevented a planned humanitarian mission to areas south of Biaro, 42 kms south of Kisangani, where thousands of refugees are believed to be stranded in the jungle.

* The Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR), representing Hutu refugees, today called on the international community to "demand" that the new Zairean authorities accept an inquiry into allegations of massacres of refugees. * UN agencies cancelled a proposed suspension of activities today in eastern Zaire after further talks with the ADFL authorities in Goma. UN security officers are to propose a series of recommendations for approval by the ADFL, which said it would provide a permanent military liaison officer to the UN. This follows an attack by armed men on a UNICEF house in Goma on 12 May.

* Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos warned last week of the danger posed by armed refugees fleeing Zaire who contine to concentrate along the Angolan border. Speaking on Angolan television, he said the refugees were threatening stability at a decisive moment in Angola's internal peace process.

* Burundi radio said today 63 people were killed and 12 injured in an attack yesterday evening at two regroupments camps in Buganda and Mugwi communes in the northwestern province of Cibitoke. The government said the attackers were members of the former Rwandan Hutu army and Interahamwe militia. However, a spokesman for the majority FRODEBU party blamed the attack on 2,000 Burundian Hutu rebels who had infiltrated Cibitoke from neighbouring Zaire.

Independent Studio Ijambo told IRIN that police in Bujumbura today broke up a demonstration of around 400 university students protesting against the government's opening of negotiations with the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). Soldiers circled the university campus to prevent more students from joining the protest. At least a dozen students were arrested. A student leader said they wanted President Pierre Buyoya to resign. They would support negotiations with parties with "clean hands" but not with "genocidaires." The President of the National Assembly, Leonce Ngendakumana, announced his support for the negotiations, as did the ambassadors of the United States and France. In a radio address on Saturday, Buyoya said the talks in Rome had been undertaken to achieve a ceasefire and put an end to the violence. His government had not yet made any commitment other than agreeing on an agenda for the next round of talks. Sources say tension in the capital has increased, with extremist Tutsi groups and certain elements within the Tutsi-dominated army opposing any talks with the Hutu rebels. A close associate of former president Jean-Baptist Bagaza died in prison in Muyinga last week, Studio Ijambo confirmed today. Former army colonel Pascal Ntako was arrested in March with four others accused of plotting to assassinate President Buyoya.

* Kenya has the second biggest gap between rich and poor in the world, according to World Bank figures quoted in the Kenyan 'East African' today. Ten per cent of Kenyans have 47.7% of the country's national income, the paper says, second only to Brazil where the top 10% have 51.3% of the wealth.

* The Ugandan 'New Vision' reports today that Zairean Banyamulenge soldiers killed two members of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Muramba hills overlooking Uganda's Kasese district. The paper earlier reported that 35 members of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) appeared in court on treason charges last Friday. They are accused of invading the Kasese district of western Uganda from Zaire last November. ADF rebels are said to be still operating inside Uganda, mainly in the Ruwenzori mountains on the Uganda-Zaire border.

* More than 200 people have been displaced from the Palabek area of Kitgum in northern Uganda following fresh rebel raids, the 'New Vision' said today. The Lords Resistance Army has been active in the area. The report says 48 people were killed in the attacks, 147 fled to Gulu town on 14 May and others are heading towards Kitgum or taking refuge with army units.

* The Sudanese news agency SUNA reported on Saturday that 80 political prisoners had been released from Sudanese jails, following an order by President Omar al-Bashir to release all political detainees.

* SUNA reported yesterday that Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi is to host a regional summit of members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) on May 27 to discuss the war in southern Sudan.

* Rwandan radio said today armed attackers shot dead two adminstrative officials and their driver in Gisenyi in the northwest on Saturday afternoon. * Basic food prices have increased by more than 50% over the past month, Rwandan radio reported last week. The radio said the increase was the result of the recent poor harvest and insecurity in food-producing regions.

* Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema has called for the World Bank and the Rwandan government to find a solution to the country's debt, Rwandan radio said today. Rwigema said the US$1.1 billion external debt, most of it owed to the World Bank, was "very worrying."

Nairobi, 19 May 1997, 15:05 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: Mon, 19 May 1997 18:14:58 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 176 for 19 May 1997 97.5.19 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970519181951.30898J-ength: 8648

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

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