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IRIN Emergency Update No.197 on the Great Lakes (19 June 1997)
* The Ugandan army says it has killed over 200 rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in fighting which has been raging since Monday when the rebels overran Bundibugyo township in the west. The state-owned 'New Vision' reported that the rebels were killed during a battle to dislodge them from the area. According to the newspaper, two senior local policemen were also killed in the fighting. The armed forces also reportedly managed to break up the rebels' command posts in the Sempaya and Ntandi areas. The Anglican bishop of Rwenzori diocese, who was reported missing, turned up in Fort Portal last night after two days of captivity in Bundibugyo, the paper said. Local residents said a German doctor with the aid agency GTZ, who was abducted by rebels, was released yesterday.
Four people, including a four month-old baby were killed and eight others injured when ADF rebels ambushed six vehicles in the Kasese area last night, the 'New Vision' reported. Local police told the newspaper the attackers shot at the vehicles one by one as they reached Mweya Gate in Queen Elizabeth National Park, a few kilometres from the Kikorongo-Bwera-Kasese junction.
The Ugandan army's Fourth Division Commander, Col. James Kazini, has declared new army deployment and mobilization strategies in a bid to end the civil war in northern Uganda. "We found it prudent to re-deploy the army in counties to enable people go back to their rightful jobs. They have been wasting time in town, it's time they went home," Kazini told a security meeting in Gulu on Monday. According to the 'New Vision', he said the new strategies would mark the end of the war. He claimed Lord's Resistance Army rebels in Uganda were no longer receiving supplies from Sudan because their headquarters had been destroyed.
However, according to another newspaper, a senior army official claimed the LRA has established three new bases in southern Sudan after their original base in Aru was destroyed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army. The independent 'Monitor' newspaper yesterday quoted the Ugandan army's military intelligence director Col Fred Tolit as saying the new bases were now located 34 miles south of Juba. He added that the Sudanese government had flown LRA rebels including leader Joseph Kony, Otti Lagony, Omona and Nyeko Yadil to Khartoum to regroup. The LRA, he said, was planning to fight the SPLA in southern Sudan.
* Humanitarian workers who visited regroupment camps in the northern Burundi provinces of Kayanza, Karuzi and Bubanza have expressed concern that people are going without food. It appears there are no aid workers based in the camps themselves, due to lack of funding and objections to regroupment. MSF in Karuzi is collecting malnourished children from some camps and taking them to feeding centres. Particular concern has been expressed over camps in Bubanza where access is limited and the close proximity of returnee, displaced and regroupment centres is causing conflict among residents. Aid workers have also reported severe malnutrition in people emerging from the Kibira forest in Bubanza and Kayanza provinces.
* The authorities in Burundi have reiterated a call for political dialogue, ahead of the July 1 independence anniversary. In comments broadcast by Burundi radio yesterday, Information Minister Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye called on Burundians to be "adaptable" and said the government would introduce a peace-building programme based on political dialogue. He described the peace process as "rejuvenation and moral rearmament". On July 1, Burundi will celebrate 35 years of independence.
* The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will soon launch economic reforms, including a review of the country's mining and investment rules, Reuters reported. Mines Minister Florent Mututulo told a sub-Saharan oil and minerals conference in Mauritius on Tuesday that the government intended to renegotiate the $US5 billion debt inherited from ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko. Restoring investor faith was one of the government's main priorities, he said. Mututulo appealed for foreign investment, saying the objective was to create a prosperous mining industry which would assist the country's economic recovery.
* The government of DRC leader Laurent-Desire Kabila is to nationalise a popular private television station and impose hefty taxes on other private media. According to Congolese state radio, Tele Kin Malebo will become the second channel of the Television of the People. In addition, non-religious broadcasting institutions will have to contribute 40 percent of revenue to the treasury, and religious stations 20 percent.
* Ousted president Mobutu Sese Seko has moved from his Rabat hotel in Morocco to a specially requisitioned hotel in the northern resort of Tangier. According to the hotel management, Mobutu and his entourage were expected to spend several weeks there. Heavy security was deployed around the hotel yesterday.
* Today's edition of the 'Washington Post', citing western and Congolese sources, has said Kabila is under intense pressure from Rwanda and Uganda to stymie a UN human rights investigation in eastern DRC. At a rally in Bukavu last weekend, Kabila reportedly warned local government officials not to direct investigators to any mass grave sites nor to potential witnesses. An advance team of investigators, led by Georg Mautner-Markhof, is due in Kinshasa tomorrow.
* The authorities in Central African Republic say some 50,000 Zaireans have crossed the border into the country, 9,000 of whom have registered with the authorities. Less than 300 have registered with UNHCR, and 250 of these have already been accommodated in Buka camp, a four hour drive north of the capital Bangui. Most of the Zaireans come from Equateur province and refuse to be registered as refugees. Many of them are well-off and are staying with relatives in border areas. UNHCR has also registered about 800 Rwandans, 600 of whom have been taken to Buka. Collection teams organised by UNHCR travel along the CAR-DRC border, where there are about six transit centres, to seek out refugees and see if they are willing to go to the camps. Humanitarian sources have expressed concern that the fighting in neighbouring Congo (Brazzaville) will further destabilise the unsteady situation in CAR, where army mutinies are frequent. In addition, many of the arrivals in CAR are believed to be ex-FAZ and ex-FAR members. The town of Bangassou on the border with DRC is reportedly insecure due to the presence of armed ex-FAZ elements.
* A three-day ceasefire agreed by opposing forces of Congolese (Brazzaville) President Pascal Lissouba and ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso appeared to be holding today, as diplomatic initiatives continued to find a solution to the conflict. The truce came into effect at midnight on Tuesday. Yesterday, the OAU-UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Mohamed Sahnoun held separate meetings with Lissouba and Sassou Nguesso, during which he backed the idea of an African peacekeeping force for Congo.
* There were riotous scenes in the Kenyan parliament today, after opposition MPs tried to prevent Finance Minister Musalia Mudavadi from delivering the 1997-98 budget speech. Eyewitnesses told IRIN a planned rally outside parliament was called off because the sheer number of ruling party supporters made confrontation inevitable. In addition, there was a heavy security force presence in town and particularly around the parliament building. Inside parliament, opposition MPs created a commotion every time the minster tried to speak, culminating in an attempt to lift the mace. Eventually fighting broke out between both sides of the House, with several MPs knocked to the ground. Some opposition MPs were finally thrown out of the building and IRIN's sources say the situation in town this evening is very tense with large numbers of paramilitary forces and riot police on standby. Some scuffles have broken out. By midday, most businesses had pulled down their shutters.
* The UN Consolidated Inter-Agency appeal for the Great Lakes Emergency stands at $US 213,532,668 as of 9 June 1997, covering 65.8 percent of needs.
Nairobi, 19 June 1997, 15:15 gmt [ENDS]
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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 197 for 19 June 1997 97.6.19 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970619183545.3255B-MIME-Version: 1.0
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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