UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No.195 on the Great Lakes (17 June 1997)
* Peace talks in Libreville, Gabon aimed at ending the conflict in Congo ended in failure yesterday. Gabonese President Omar Bongo had arranged talks between representatives of President Pascal Lissouba and his opponent, ex-Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso. Also present was joint UN-OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun, who later vowed to redouble mediation efforts. In Brazzaville itself, fighting continued between government troops and Sassou Nguesso's "Cobra" militia for control of the airport, as France continued pulling its troops out of the city. CNN said today the USA is closing its embassy in the city and withdrawing its staff.
* The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have rejected accusations by the national human rights organisation, the Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO), that over 640 people were killed in the fight for Kinshasa last month. According to Gabonese radio, government spokesman Raphael Ghenda described the allegations as malicious and intended to harm the new regime. In its report, AZADDHO also condemned the "downward drift into a totalitarian state and a democracy that destroys freedom". It accused the authorities of indifference to summary justice meted out by some soldiers of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) and recommended that international aid be conditional on respect for human rights and democracy.
* Another potential conflict is brewing in Sudan where parliamentarians from western areas have called for self-determination, following an agreement signed between southern rebel factions and the government earlier this year. The news agency, Inter-Press Service, said a memorandum sent by 47 legislators to President Omar el-Bashir this month congratulated the southerners "for gaining their rights". However, the accord did not address the situation in other parts of Sudan, the memo added. The westerners' demand is likely to be rejected by the Khartoum authorities, and Riak Machar, leader of the southern rebel United Democratic Salvation Front alliance, has already said any concessions to the west would violate the accord. According to Machar, the west has not been oppressed by the authorities. The parliamentarians claim that oil and agriculturally-rich areas, which should belong to the west, are to be handed over to the south under the terms of the pact.
* The Sudanese authorities have called on Khartoum residents originating from Bahr el-Ghazal province to mobilise to defend their home areas against attack by John Garang's SPLA. The SPLA has reportedly been making significant advances in the province. Sudanese Vice-President George Kongor Arop, who comes from the region, has ordered the formation of a mobilisation committee to arrange to send people to training camps, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Sudan has called for a summit meeting with Egypt whom it accuses of supporting Sudanese rebel movements.
* Amnesty International has accused Lord's Resistance Army rebels in northern Uganda of "gross abuses" against children and adults, and called on Sudan to stop supporting the insurgents. After a two-week mission to the area, Amnesty's team leader told AFP he was "shocked" by the findings. He also expressed concern over the activities of the Ugandan army, saying ill-discipline among some soldiers went unchecked. There was also a pattern of alleged rebel collaborators being mistreated and sometimes killed, he said. But he added that the army's human rights record was an improvement on 1992.
The state-owned 'New Vision" today reported that five senior officers with responsibility for northern Uganda were suspended following alleged irregularities in their operational areas. They included the 2nd Division Commanding Officer, Col. Peter Kerim and his deputy Lt. Col. Napoleon Rutambika. No further details were available, the newspaper said.
Another article in 'New Vision" said a large number of rebels had overrun the western town of Bundibugyo yesterday, after the army had been deployed elsewhere following reports of an imminent invasion in the Basunga, Kakuku and Butogonyamya areas along the border with DRC. According to a 'New Vision' reporter, mortar and gunfire could still be heard at Ntanda, 14 kms from Bundibugyo. A government official told AFP rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces mixed with Rwandan guerrillas and former Zairean soldiers were responsible for the attack, but they had been repulsed by the Ugandan army. Minister of State for Defence in charge of Training, Col Jeje Odong, said five rebels were killed and two Ugandan soldiers wounded.
* Two people were killed and three others wounded when an armed gang launched an attack in Gihanga, western Burundi on Sunday night. According to Burundi radio, a similar attack occurred the same night in Mitakataka zone, Bubanza commune. A child was hit by bullets and is undergoing hospital treatment.
* The UN's annual human development index has placed Rwanda and Burundi as the second and seventh least developed countries respectively. Also in the bottom third of the table are other countries of the region, notably DRC, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda. The Human Development Report 1997 notes that a quarter of the world's population is still living in poverty reflecting "inexcusable failures" of national and international policy. The greatest proportion of people below the poverty line live in sub-Saharan Africa, where continuing conflict in many countries and the rise in diseases such as AIDS/HIV threaten to exacerbate the problem. The report proposed action including conflict prevention, debt relief for developing countries and further aid.
Nairobi, 17 June 1997, 15:00 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: email@example.com 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".]
Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 195 for 17 June 1997 97.6.17 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970617174212.15984A@dha.unon.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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