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IRIN Emergency Update No.192 on the Great Lakes (11 June 1997)
* Congolese President Pascal Lissouba today ordered his troops to observe an immediate ceasefire after six days of fighting in the capital Brazzaville between government troops and militiamen loyal to former president Denis Sassou Nguesso. In an announcement on state radio, Lissouba said he wanted to give mediation a chance. Nguesso earlier said he was open to a ceasefire if the army stopped shelling areas controlled by his forces. The Mayor of Brazzaville, allied to Nguesso, is reported to have liaised between the two men. A Reuters correspondent in Brazzaville said shooting could still be heard in the city after the president's radio message. Aid workers said the city was calmer than yesterday. Gabonese President Omar Bongo, who is related by marriage to Nguesso, today repeated his offer to mediate in the conflict. The fighting has cast considerable doubt over the holding of elections scheduled for 27 July. Supporters of Nguesso yesterday accused government forces of carrying out ethnic cleansing in the capital Brazzaville, AFP reported. In a radio broadcast, Nguesso's "Cobra" militia said government troops were firing mortars into heavily-populated working class districts to kill civilians and that bodies were being counted in the hundreds.
* France today began flying in 400 paratroopers from Chad and Gabon, AFP reported, to bring French troop strength in Brazzaville up to 1,200. Their mission is to assist in the safe evacuation of foreign nationals. In Paris, AFP reported the arrival this morning of an Air France plane carrying 320 French nationals, who described scenes of destruction and bodies littering the streets in Brazzaville. American planes yesterday flew 94 people, including 30 Americans, out of Brazzaville to Libreville in Gabon.
* Fighting has grounded relief operations to assist thousands of Rwandan refugees in the Liranga and Lukelela area. UNHCR said it is looking into the possibility of using Bangui in Central African Republic (CAR) as a base for operations.
* A civil society meeting on the reconstruction and democratisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is to be held on 16-20 June in Kinshasa, organised by Synergies Africa, International Human Rights Law Group, and the Zairean National Council of Non-governmental Organisations (CNONG). It is intended to strengthen civil society in DRC and promote dialogue between civil society leaders and other national leaders.
* Tanzanian army instructors have won a contract to train new recruits to DRC's new national army, according to a report in today's Kenyan 'Daily Nation.' The report quotes a reliable source in the ruling Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) saying 40,000 recruits will be trained at a military base at Kamina, near the Angolan border.
* Armed men in uniform carried out a robbery at an international aid agency house in Goma on Monday night, stealing money and electrical items. Two military policemen, who discovered the stolen goods close to the Rwandan border crossing point, were killed in a shoot-out with the bandits. A number of robberies have recently been carried out in the same Quartier St. Esprit area of town.
* Congolese television said yesterday a cabinet meeting was cancelled because of a student protest in the capital Kinshasa. Students of the Higher Institute of Commerce took to the streets to demand the release of their director-general who, according to the television station, was not in detention as was believed. Around 20 students were arrested.
* The UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, Sergio Vieira de Mello, yesterday began his second visit to the Great Lakes region in less than a month. He is due to visit Kinshasa, where he is expected to meet President Laurent-Desire Kabila. If security permits, he will also visit Congo. * The UNHCR is continuing searches for Rwandan Hutu refugees in various parts of DRC. On Monday, a train returned from Obilo, south of Kisangani, with 27 refugees, while another 20 were flown from Ubundu to Kisangani. On Tuesday, two flights to Amisi and Punia brought 61 refugees to Goma. A river barge set out on Tuesday from Mbandaka in the northwest to Ingende to pick up the first of some 300 refugees there. In the Mbuji-Mayi area, UNHCR is planning to travel to three sites around the city where the presence of several hundred refugees was reported by local officials. An airlift for 620 refugees at Kapanga, east of the Angolan border, is due to start on Thursday. Local authorities say 14,000 refugees are gathered in small groups around Shabunda, Katshungu and Lungungu. UNHCR is looking at ways of collecting and repatriating them.
* Aid agencies have withdrawn staff from towns in eastern Angola threatened by fighting, Reuters reported yesterday. Government troops launched an offensive three weeks ago in areas controlled by the former rebel UNITA. Observers say it threatens Angola's fragile peace process.
The UN Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, met UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi yesterday in Bailundo. A UN spokesman said Savimbi gave renewed assurances of co-operation which had become necessary because of recent events in neighbouring DRC and the disputes over diamond-producing areas. Tensions have escalated in Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces on the Angola-Congo border. The UN says its efforts are now focussed on keeping the peace process active and preventing tensions in the north from escalating into serious military conflict. The force commander of the UN mission to Angola, UNAVEM, visited Andrada, 50 kms from the Congo border in Lunda Norte, last week and confirmed that heavy fighting had occurred. * Rwandan soldiers are holding villagers in a football stadium in Ruhengeri in an attempt to flush out Hutu rebels in the area, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed diplomat and local residents as sources. The report said soldiers had conducted house-to-house searches in three villages in the area, and had found some internally fortified houses that may have been used by Hutu fighters from the former army and Interahamwe militia.
* More than 15,000 Burundian refugees arrived in the Kigoma region of Tanzania during the month of May, according to the UNHCR. The current total of Burundian refugees in Kigoma now stands at 202,539. Approximately 100,000 Burundians are also in camps in the Ngara region.
The UNHCR announced yesterday that it had stopped its activities in Cibitoke province after an ambush of a humanitarian convoy under military escort on Monday.
* The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Pierre Sane, today repeated his criticisms of the Kenyan government's human rights record. At a press conference in Nairobi, Sane said torture and the abuse of freedoms of association and expression were widespread. He called on foreign countries to send monitors to observe the elections due later this year.
* The Ugandan army has released 234 rebels from the West Nile Bank Front who surrendered themselves, the Ugandan 'New Vision' reported today. An army commander told them they should go "home to dig." Nairobi, 11 June 1997, 14:50 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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, 11 Jun 1997 18:25:05 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 192 for 11 June 1997 97.6.11 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970611182448.8273Y-ength: 8022
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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