Great Lakes: IRIN Update 186, 6/3/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 186, 6/3/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.186 on the Great Lakes (3 June 1997)

* Following a weekend of rioting after clashes broke out between police and demonstrators in Nairobi, Amnesty International called for an end to Kenya's "oppressive laws", which it said were a legacy of colonial times. During a rally on Sunday to mark Madaraka Day, or self-governance, President Daniel arap Moi announced that the controversial Public Order Act would be replaced by a Peaceful Assembly Act. Amnesty welcomed the move, but pointed out that even with the amendment the president would still have extensive powers to limit human rights. The statement was released yesterday by an Amnesty International team whose visit to Nairobi coincided with the unrest in the capital. Under the current law, meetings and rallies must be licensed by the government. Saturday's planned oppostion rally aimed at pressing for constitutional reform was deemed unlawful by the authorities as a permit had not been issued.

However opposition leaders dismissed the new act as "mere window-dressing", reiterating that minimum constitutional reform must take place. Addressing a news conference in Nairobi yesterday, they stated there would be no elections this year without the required reforms and stressed they were determined to pursue their cause. Nairobi was still tense today as members of the paramilitary General Service Unit patrolled the city. Anti-riot police yesterday evicted hawkers from the city centre after a government statement blamed them for the unrest. Some arrests were made. Today's 'Daily Nation' said people were warned against standing around in groups. Many businesses remained closed.

* Violence broke out on the Kenya-Uganda border last week after Pokot tribespeople crossed into Uganda to escape a security operation in the West Pokot district, the 'Daily Nation' reported yesterday. Quoting local police, it said over 50 were killed by Karamojong cattle-rustlers near the Amdat trading centre on Wednesday and 24 were seriously injured. The attackers used guns, bows and arrows and spears. According to the newspaper, the dead included 32 children who had their throats slit. The Kenyan government launched the security operation after suspected Pokot cattle-rustlers raided and killed several members of the Marakwet community, the newspaper reported.

* UNESCO has launched an initiative entitled "Building the future in Burundi" aimed at bringing together representatives from various political spectrums, civil society both inside and outside the country and concerned international institutions. In a press release, UNESCO said the meetings were designed to provide a forum for dialogue and discuss the role education, culture, science and communication should play in the country. The first meeting is due to be held at the end of this month.

* Reports from Bujumbura indicate that fighting around the city has intensified over the last couple of days with mortar fire and machine-gun fire clearly audible. The Burundian army has been using planes to attack rebel positions on the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, the dean of Bujumbura university closed the establishment after continuing student protests against negotiations between the government and rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). The closure, two months before the end of the academic year, affects some 1,500 students in their third and fourth years. First and second year students are undergoing compulsory military service.

* Humanitarian sources in Burundi estimate there are now more than 600,000 people not living in their own homes. These include displaced, regrouped and repatriated people living in sites across the country. Of these, 275,846 are living in regroupment camps. The worst affected province is Karuzi where 37 percent of the population are living outside their homes.

* Laurent-Desire Kabila, leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was among 30 African heads of state, including President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, to attend the opening session of the 33rd OAU summit in Harare yesterday. The session elected Dr Salim Ahmed Salim for an unprecedented third term as the organisation's secretary-general. Addressing the meeting, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the military coup in Sierra Leone, saying Africa could no longer tolerate the "illegal seizure of power by military cliques". Kabila and Annan are due to hold talks in Harare.

* The DRC authorities have announced a reconstruction plan for the country, Gabonese radio reported on Saturday. At the end of its first cabinet meeting, the new government said that in the economic sphere, pipelines would be laid to supply all regions of the country with oil. The road infrastructure will be renovated and a computerised office will take charge of centralising labour supply and demand. The health system is to be overhauled, including the construction of new hospitals. The government expressed its determination to put an end to the "criminal activities of saboteurs" bent on destabilising the country.

* The commissioner of Uvira zone in southeastern DRC has said his entire administrative area is calm, Congolese radio broadcasting from Bukavu reported yesterday. His remarks follow reports of violent unrest in the town last week in which at least 30 people were said to have died during clashes between the army and local people. Humanitarian sources concurred that the town was now tranquil.

Elsewhere in DRC, there were anti-government protests last week in Mbuji-Mayi, stronghold of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. More details came to light of Sunday's demonstrations in Kisangani triggered by the murder of a local trader on Saturday night, apparently by soldiers trying to steal his motorbike and demanding money. Young people came out into the streets shouting anti-government and anti-Rwandan slogans. A student demonstration planned for yesterday was stopped after soldiers surrounded the university and fired in the air. Local sources point out that most of the students at Kisangani university are pro-Tshisekedi and object to his exclusion from the government.

* WFP announced it was phasing down its air operation in and out of eastern DRC. In a news release today, WFP said the initiative known as the "food in-people out" airlift was one of its most complex operations. Some 45,000 refugees had been airlifted back to Rwanda since the repatriation began on April 30, with over 50 percent of them flown back on returning WFP food planes at limited added cost to the UN, the statement said.

* A press release issued by Save the Children yesterday called on the DRC government to conduct an investigation after one of its local workers was killed in Karuba near Goma on Thursday. The statement said the worker was killed as he was taking a group of unaccompanied Rwandan children for repatriation, adding that local reports suggested the attackers were members of the ADFL. One of the children was also killed in the attack. According to the statement, reports of soldiers roaming the area and attacking indiscriminately were a growing cause for concern. Reuters said UNHCR today urged Kabila and the OAU to take measures to protect Rwandan refugees.

* The government of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) has said it wants the repatriation of all Rwandan refugees currently at the Bilolo site, just north off Brazzaville, before more are brought down by barge from the Liranga area. However the authorities have not announced how this might be accomplished. More barges are due to leave the capital tomorrow for the northern areas where the refugees are gathered. Aid workers said a new concentration of 4,000-5,000 refugees has been discovered north of Liranga.

* Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame said yesterday he would give military assistance to the DRC if asked to do so but denied his forces had been involved in the ADFL takeover of former Zaire, AFP reported. He said people of Rwandese origin in DRC such as the Banyamulenge or Banyamasisi were always confused with Rwandan nationals. Asked about alleged massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC, Kagame replied that the information was not that accurate, saying refugees had been armed and trained in the former Zaire. "It was going to create a catastrophe for refugees and for other people as well in that area," he said. In an interview with Gabonese radio on Sunday, DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha stated there were hardly any Rwandan refugees left in the country.

On the volatile security situation in northwest Rwanda, Kagame said military operations against ex-FAR and Interahamwe members were going well. He claimed the situation was under control and command structures from the former refugee camps in eastern Zaire were "totally destroyed". "This is simply the last effort by some scattered groups still wanting to cause trouble," he said.

* A south Sudanese rebel faction yesterday accused the government in Khartoum of a bombing raid in the village of Aburoc aimed at scaring relief agencies out of the area. The bombing claim was corroborated by humanitarian sources who said a UNICEF plane, which had been on the ground at Aburoc since May 23 undergoing repairs, had apparently been targeted by a Sudanese Antonov plane which overflew the area several times on Sunday. The plane dropped five bombs and some smaller cluster bombs, one of which exploded in mid-air. However no damage was caused to the UNICEF plane and no casualties were reported. Three mechanics and four aid workers were evacuated from the area. The UNICEF plane had been undergoing repairs after it overran the runway while trying to take off and sustained damage estimated to take three weeks to fix. The rebel faction, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-United), alleged the government's plan was to "ensure that nobody comes to the rescue of the suffering civilian population".

Nairobi, 3 June 1997, 14:15 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: Tue, 3 Jun 1997 17:14:22 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 186 for 3 Jun 1997 97.6.3 Message-ID: <>

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

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