UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No.185 on the Great Lakes (30 May 1997)
* Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called for the formation of an African Common Market now that the "big hole in the middle of Africa has been filled up". Speaking in Kinshasa yesterday after the inauguration of Laurent-Desire Kabila as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he said Kabila's forces had "liberated not only Congo but all Africa". "We want a common market from east to west and from South Africa to the west," he added. He dismissed the notion of Anglophone or Francophone countries, saying a preferred term would be Bantuphone. Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, who was also present at the inauguration, stressed the desire to transform central Africa into a region of peace and security, while President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi hoped for good relations with DRC, particularly in security and trade.
* A French official visiting Kinshasa said French expatriates in the city were not especially targeted, but France nevertheless decided to maintain its 300 troops across the river Congo in Brazzaville. Other foreign troops, who were stationed in the Republic of Congo for a possible evcuacation of expatriates, have started withdrawing from the country, but the French defence ministry said yesterday its forces would remain to reassure French nationals in Kinshasa. French troops are also now providing logistical support to the Congolese (Brazzaville) army and NGOs dealing with an influx of Rwandan refugees from DRC.
* Thousands of Rwandan Hutus yesterday arrived in the Congolese capital Brazzaville by barge from their swampy refuge further north. The barge convoy took a week to bring some 4,000 refugees down from the Liranga region but many more were still stranded in the marshlands. Reuters said 90 percent of the arrivals were young men. The refugees will be transported to a site at Bilolo, just north of the capital.
* The UN Security Council last night expressed support for DRC saying it opposed any interference in the country's internal affairs. It urged a peaceful transition leading to free and democratic elections and called for the withdrawal of all external forces from the country, including mercenaries. It also called for an end to violence against refugees in the county.
* Sources in South Kivu province allege 10 people were found shot dead in Uvira after killings and abductions on Sunday night. The discovery on Monday morning triggered an angry demonstration by residents of Uvira which was allegedly violently suppressed by the ADFL army, causing some 30 deaths. A further 100 people were reportedly wounded, including the commissaire de zone. Tensions have always been high in the area between the Bavira, Babembe and Bafulero people and the Banyamulenge who now dominate the local authorities.
A high ranking official of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), who arrived in South Kivu yesterday, warned of a "precarious" security situation in the southeast of the province. According to ADFL radio in Bukavu, Commander Anselme Masasu Nindaga, said some businessmen and politicians of the former Kivu were supporting "infiltrators and enemies of the liberation". He named former prime minister Faustin Birindwa, former Central Bank governor Cyprien Pay Pay Sykassighe and former National Assembly president Celestin Anzuluni Bembe Isinyonyi as among those involved in destabilising the province.
* DRC Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwanananga has announced a new currency to replace the new zaire. Speaking on Wednesday, he said no new bank notes would be printed until the introduction of the Congolese franc. However, he did not say when the new currency would come into effect but warned that there would be tough decisions and sacrifices ahead. He added that once the country knew what it owed, the government would discuss the way forward with creditors.
* As the trial of another Rwandan genocide suspect was adjourned in Arusha yesterday, an international conference of western nations agreed to push for the extradition of suspects wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The court adjourned the trial of Georges Rutaganda, a high ranking member of the Interahamwe militia, until June 9. In Geneva, the two-day conference on increasing the effectiveness of the ICTR also stressed the need for beefing up witness protection. US Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck told reporters after the meeting that the pace of trials and indictments should rise "but we have to put this in the context of starting from zero".
* A security meeting yesterday in the southern Rwandan town of Butare between officials from Rwanda and Burundi noted the need for enhanced border controls. Civilian and military officials from Gikongoro and Butare prefectures in Rwanda and Ngozi and Kayanza provinces in Burundi agreed that people crossing the border must carry indentification and use official checkpoints only. They also called for greater information exchanges on security issues.
* There has been a spate of death threats against NGOs in Burundi, according to humanitarian sources. Catholic Relief Services was forced to evacuate two staff members after they received written threats and Population Services International had to evacuate an employee who was also threatened.
* Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa is in Kenya on his first visit to the country since taking office in November 1995. Mkapa, who arrived yesterday, will spend four days in Kenya during which he is to meet government leaders and visit various development projects. At a state dinner last night, Mkapa called on the West not to interfere in DRC's democratisation process.
Nairobi, 30 May 1997, 13:00 gmt
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Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 16:18:35 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN UPdate 185 for 30 May 1997 97.5.30 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970530161515.694Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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