Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #20, 7/29 - 8/4/96

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #20, 7/29 - 8/4/96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 441125
Fax: +254 2 448816

This is number 20 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN agencies, NGOs, other international organisations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.
Weekly Roundup of Main Events in the Great Lakes region
29 July - 4 August 1996

# Regional leaders agreed this week to exert maximum pressure, including economic sanctions, on Burundi in response to the 25 July army-backed coup d'etat by former Burundian president, Pierre Buyoya. In a joint communique issued at the end of the second Arusha Regional Summit on Burundi on 31 July, the leaders of the region condemned the coup and called on the Bujumbura regime to immediately undertake specific measures to return to constitutional order. These included the immediate restoration of the National Assembly and unbanning of political parties. The Summit also called on the regime to undertake immediate and unconditional negotiations with all the parties to the conflict, including parties and armed factions outside the country. The Presidents of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zaire and Ethiopia were joined at the Summit by the Minister of External Relations of Cameroon, representing the current chairman of the OAU, the Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim and the facilitator of the Burundi peace talks, former Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere.

Tanzania has suspended all trade and other economic ties with Burundi and blocked loading of oil on trucks for Burundi at its port of Dar es Salaam and at Kigoma. An Air Tanzania flight was also cancelled on Sunday. Most of Burundi's oil and fuel is from Tanzania.

Reaction to the sanctions has been mixed. Nyerere said that he was optimistic that sanctions were the most effective method of international coercion and Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku expressed his support to the measures. Belgium called the action "premature". Burundi's opposition group, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) also said on Sunday that it welcomed sanctions. Burundi's new Prime Minister, Pascal-Firmin Ndimira said that sanctions were a harsh reaction by countries "that do not understand the situation in Burundi" and other Burundi diplomats called the measures "draconian". The outgoing President of the Security Council, Alain Dejammet of France said that Security Council members would examine "very attentively" the impact of sanctions against a country facing "such humanitarian distress". The US said on Thursday that the sanctions could be effective but that Washington had not yet decided whether to follow suit.

During the Second Arusha Summit, the regional leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Arusha Summit conclusions of 25 June and noted with appreciation the task undertaken by the Technical Committee mandated with reviewing the modalities for proving security assistance as requested by Burundi's legitimate government. No concrete actions, however, were taken to revive the plans. The security situation in Bujumbura, meanwhile, continued to be calm throughout the week and the dawn to dusk curfew imposed after the coup was lifted on Thursday. The new curfew extends from dawn to 10pm. The Army is reported to have killed on Thursday an unspecified number of former Hutu soldiers who deserted during the coup.

# The new government for Burundi, announced nine days after Burundi's coup d'etat, has received cautious approval in Bujumbura but political observers appear to be divided over whether the new government can save Burundi from ethnic bloodshed. The new government is led by Hutu Prime Minister Pascal-Firmin Ndimira and includes 23 ministers and two secretaries of state. The ethnic mix between Hutu and Tutsi is reported to be about even.

Several of the new government are little known but others are ministers staying in their pre-coup posts. There are several Hutus from the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) the party to which ousted President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya belongs. President Ntibantunganya remains in the US Embassy residence in Bujumbura where he took refuge just prior to the coup. FRODEBU's president, Jean Minani has denounced FRODEBU members who have joined the government and said that it was "politically and technically useless". Jean- Baptiste Bagaza, the principal Tutsi rival to Burundi's leader Pierre Buyoya, has said that the new government would take the country nowhere.

# South Africa's Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, and Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo will visit Tanzania and Ethiopia from 5 August for talks on Burundi. Mbeki and Nzo will be briefed by Nyerere in Tanzania on Wednesday's Summit in Arusha before travelling to Addis Ababa for a meeting with the OAU. President Nelson Mandela has been under increasing pressure from the UN, OAU and regional leaders to become directly involved in the search for peace in Burundi. In an interview earlier this week, Mandela said that he was anxious to support an African peace initiative in Burundi but that this should be done through existing structures such as the southern African Development Community (SADC), the OAU and regional leaders. Mandela has resisted pressure from other southern African countries to commit troops to an African peace-keeping force and is known to be cautious about a South African military role in Burundi.

Baroness Lynda Chalker, the British Overseas Development Minister, was also expected in Uganda on Monday 5 August at the start of a regional tour.

# Burundian refugees have continued to flee to Zaire in significant numbers to escape fighting in Burundi's Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces. As of the end of July, some 12,508 refugees, mostly Burundian, had arrived in Uvira during the month. An additional 881 Burundian and 23 Rwandan refuges arrived in the first two days of August. Burundians also continued to arrive in Bugarama, Cyangugu Prefecture at the rate of about 15 a day in the second half of July, bringing the total at the end of the month to 3,719. There has been no official designation of a medium term camp for the population.

Following the suspension of the forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees from camps in northern Burundi, UNHCR reports that all of the 15,112 returnees have been returned to their home communes in Butare. UNHCR, in conjunction with IOM, provided transport upon their arrival in Rwanda and two month food packages were supplied by WFP. UN Human Rights monitors have followed the process and reported that as of 29 July, 68 returnees were detained in four communes in Butare and that a Conseiller de Secteur had been arrested in connection with the death of a returnee in Nyaruhengeri commune.

The closure of Kibezi and Ruvumu camps leaves two other camps in northern Burundi. The largest, Magara, has swollen to over 53,000 by the end of the month with the addition of some 11,000 fleeing forced repatriation mainly from Ruvumu. Voluntary repatriation from Magara resumed 29 July and initial reaction from refugees was very positive. 653 refugees returned to Rwanda on UNHCR convoys on 1 August, with 1,833 following the next day. Although there were expectations that as many as 4,000 would return on Saturday, only 305 arrived back in Rwanda. UNHCR sources said that "something had happened overnight to convince people not to go". Although the new regime in Burundi has agreed not to force refugees to return, it was announced this week that non-essential services in the camps in Burundi would be suspended.

# A UN report which investigates those responsible for the 1993 assassination of Burundi's president Melchior Ndadaye has been delivered to the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council. A date for its release has not yet been set. The CNDD recently denounced reports that the document may be kept under wraps because of possibilities that it may inflame the situation in Burundi.

# The High Commissioner for Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda has reported that well over 100 people were killed between 5 and 13 July in military operations by the RPA in Karago, Giciye and Ramba Communes of Gisenyi Prefecture and Nyamutera Commune of Ruhengeri Prefecture. Some of those killed were former members of the Rwandese Armed Forces of the previous government, Interahamwe militia or other infiltrators or insurgents. However, many of those killed are reported to have been unarmed civilians.

Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) have condemned the killings. In a report issued 26 July, the two groups said that although officially attributed to infiltrators, some of these attacks appear to have been carried out by RPA soldiers. (Full texts of the 25 July Human Rights status report and the Human Rights Watch/FIDH report are available via IRIN. Please note that in last week's weekly round-up a figure of 300 killed attributed to HRFOR was quoted. This was based on early newspaper reports and is not correct).

# A report released on 31 July by Human Rights Watch and the FIDH charges the Zairian Government with complicity in the ethnic violence in northern Kivu in eastern Zaire. The report says that the violence in North Kivu has been perpetuated largely by the militias from the Hutu and Hunde ethnic groups, sometimes with the participation of Zairian soldiers. Amongst its recommendations the report calls for the international community to hold the Zairian Government accountable for actions against the Tutsi population in north Kivu and other attacks against civilians. It also urges the Government of Zaire to launch an immediate investigation into the complicity of military and civilian personnel in the attacks and prosecute those responsible.

The EU has also expressed serious concern about what it called the deteriorating ethnic violence and arms smuggling in eastern Zaire. A statement by the EU mission in Kinshasa said that it had asked the Zairian Government for assurances on measures it had taken or planned to deal with the situation.

A 40 per cent increase in the number of children being treated for severe malnutrition has been reported from camps in Goma in eastern Zaire. The increase has been linked to movement into refugee camps of people who fled conflict-affected areas of Masisi in North Kivu.

# The South African government has ordered police, army and intelligence services to probe reports that former apartheid agents are illegally selling arms to troubled Burundi and Rwanda. The Chairman of the South African National Conventional Arms Control Committee vowed the Government would punish South Africans involved in deals in contravention of a government ban. Johannesburg's Sunday Independent newspaper reported last week that small arms, explosives and equipment are flowing out of South Africa to Hutu extremists in Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire. In the past few weeks the newspaper said that weapons on Tadjiki and Uzbeki cargo planes, piloted by Russians, have come into Zaire from South Africa and Angola.

# Zaire announced that it has stepped up security checks on aid consignments after saying that it had found a consignment of weapons for the Rwandan Army in a cargo plane chartered by aid organisations. Zaire's information minister Boguo Makeli said on Friday that a Liberian-registered DC-8 had been seized on Thursday while en route from Osstende to Uganda's Entebbe airport. The plane had been regularly used by UNHCR and other relief agencies to transport cargo to Zaire. UN officials said that the plane was held temporarily by government authorities in Goma after military style caps were found on board.

An Air Zaire Boeing 737 seized by the Rwandan authorities in April continues to be stranded at the Rwandan town of Kamembe. Zaire said that the plane had been on a flight from Kinshasa to Bukavu via Goma and was forced down in bad weather. The Rwandan authorities say that the plane was carrying weapons. Zaire's foreign and defence ministers were in Kigali on 29 July for talks on border security and on ways to persuade Rwandan refugees in Zaire to go home. The stranded Zairian aircraft was also discussed during their meetings.

# Zaire's deputy Foreign Minister said yesterday that the US Ambassador to Zaire had exceeded his authority by criticising the slow pace of progress towards promised multi-party elections in Zaire. President Mobutu Sese Seko, who seized power in a 1965 coup, introduced a multi-party system in 1990 but Zaire's transition has lagged well behind that of other states in the region. U.S. Ambassador Daniel Simpson criticised Mobutu's supporters and opponents for not agreeing power sharing arrangements for the transitional period.

# The Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) has rescued more than 30 children abducted by the fundamentalist Christian rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in on-going operations in the north of the country. The LRA is said to be abducting mostly young people during attacks on villages in the Gulu and Kitgum districts allegedly to recruit them.

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-> The material contained in this communication may not be taken
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From: Pat Banks <> Date: Mon, 5 Aug 1996 18:46:17 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #20 29 July - 4 August 96.8.4 Message-Id: <>

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

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