Great Lakes: IRIN Update 203, 7/1/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 203, 7/1/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.203 on the Great Lakes (1 July 1997)

* A bodyguard was killed and the wife of Burundian parliamentary speaker Leonce Ngendakumana injured when her car detonated a mine in Bujumbura's hillside Kiriri suburb last night. Studio Ijambo radio told IRIN the blast occurred on a street inhabited by mostly FRODEBU officials, after a party given by FRODEBU's secretary-general Augustin Nzojibwami. FRODEBU is the main opposition party in Burundi, which celebrates its 35th independence anniversary today.

* Hundreds of students boycotted classes at Bujumbura university yesterday and staged a sit-in to demand payment of their grants for April to July, AFP reported. It said staff were blocked from leaving the campus. A student leader complained to AFP that there was no paper, no soap and no pens.

* One of the few Tutsi members of the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD), Stany-Claver Kaduga, has died in a Rome hospital. According to the BBC's Kirundi service, Kaduga who is a former vice-president of the national assembly, died last Thursday. He was a member of FRODEBU before joining CNDD in Uvira, where it is believed he sustained injuries during fighting between the ADFL and Zairean troops last year. The radio said Kaduga had been in Rome attending peace talks between the government and the CNDD.

* Humanitarian sources have described the overall situation in Burundi's Nyanza Lac area as alarming. The regular water supply is still cut off since rebels sabotaged the pipes at the end of April, health centres have been looted and no longer function, and most schools are closed. The sources point out that 80,000 inhabitants of Nyanza Lac, along with displaced people, need clean water. They are currently drinking contaminated water from Lake Tanganyika.

* FAO has pointed out that despite a good harvest in Burundi's 1997-B season, both retail and wholesale prices remain high. In Bujumbura, the weekly food expenditure of an average family was estimated at 10,425 Burundi francs (FBu), as of June 27. The pre-sanctions estimate was 5,228 FBu.

* Rwanda said it was behind the Democratic Republic of Congo's demand that the UN human rights investigation into alleged atrocities be modified. Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana told a news conference in Kigali yesterday that "certain members" of the proposed team had "preconceived ideas" about the newly-formed DRC. "Why is the commission just looking into what happened recently, forgetting that this explosive situation in eastern Zaire was created over a year ago?," he asked. Kabila has called for expanding the investigation to cover the period from March 1993 to May 1997, as well as for changes in the composition of the investigating team. Gasana rejected allegations that his country was involved in massacres of Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC.

* Belgium has called for a new type of cooperation with Rwanda, saying it prefers ties that are "more operational, more flexible and more coherent at the European level", AFP reported. Belgian Secretary of State for Cooperation and Development Reginal Moreels, who is visiting Rwanda, said bilateral cooperation was mostly in the domain of health, education, agriculture and justice. Moreels also said he had had constructive talks with Rwandan officials on alleged refugee massacres in eastern DRC. According to Rwandan radio, Vice-President Paul Kagame who met Moreels yesterday said Rwanda believed cooperation with Belgium was very important. Kagame said responsibility for the refugee problem lay "with those who organised the Zone Turquoise ... and with those who did not carry out their work of separating Interahamwe, ex-FAR and former politicians from innocent refugees."

* Refugees returning to Rwanda from DRC, interviewed by the BBC's Kirundi/Kinyarwanda service, claimed disease and hunger had killed a large number of their compatriots in the forests of eastern DRC. They said life in the jungle had been very tough. The radio also interviewed UNHCR's representative in Rwanda, Roman Urasa, who said it had become difficult to repatriate refugees because they were now so scattered and it was problematical to gather them together for repatriation. He added that some UNHCR activities in Ruhengeri prefecture, such as building houses for the returnees, had been stopped because of insecurity. WFP activities in Ruhengeri have been suspended until further notice.

* Uganda has poured cold water on efforts by Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to revive their economic grouping, the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), according to the 'EastAfrican' weekly. Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, said the grouping would probably fail because Rwanda had applied to join the East African Cooperation (which groups Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) and Burundi had expressed interest in joining. At the recent OAU summit in Harare, President Yoweri Museveni described any regrouping of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC as unnecessary, the newspaper said.

* On Sunday UNHCR led an inter-agency mission to Beni, north of Goma, in eastern DRC to confirm reports that up to 10,000 Ugandan refugees had crossed into the country to flee fighting between the Ugandan army and rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Bundibugyo area. The mission was able to establish that most of the refugees appeared to be located in a pocket of land surrounded by the Virunga National Park on one side and Uganda on the other. The bulk of refugees have reportedly gone to Beni, and are staying in outlying areas, with a smaller group going north to the Bunia area. Because of time constraints and the remoteness of the location the mission had few first-hand encounters with the refugees, but the local authorities report some refugees are suffering from malaria and gastrointestinal problems while others have knife or machete wounds. The local authorities are spreading the word that aid is available so that the Ugandans will come out of the inaccessible places where they have taken refuge. WFP said food aid has also reached the town of Bundibugyo, so the refugees may be tempted to return if the situation is secure.

* UNHCR is awaiting a response from the DRC authorities regarding the repatriation of some 13,000 DRC refugees from the Kyaka II and Nakivale camps in southwest Uganda. The repatriation, scheduled for August, may now be affected by the fighting in Uganda's Bundibugyo area.

* US troops are to travel to Uganda next month to train battalion-size military units in international peacekeeping, the 'Washington Post' reported yesterday. It said the mission was part of the Clinton administration's plan for an all-African military force capable of responding to unrest on the continent. Similar training is planned for troops in Senegal, to be followed by Tunisia, Ethiopia, Mali and Malawi later in the year.

* Uganda has told John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to leave the Karamoja area where they have reportedly been grouping. Today's 'New Vision' newspaper quoted Minister of State for Defence Amama Mbabazi as saying Uganda had told all Sudanese, both government and rebel troops, that they should respect its borders. The 'New Vision' noted that reports of several thousand SPLA fighters settling in Kidepo national park in northeastern Uganda first came to light in the Paris-based Indian Ocean newsletter on June 14.

* Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has declared a general amnesty for armed opponents of his government to mark the eighth anniversary of his rule, AFP reported. He announced that the amnesty covered "everyone from the south and the north who carried arms so that he can come back home". Bashir also said his government was willing to improve relations with neighbouring countries. In the next few days, a commission would be set up to draw up a permanent constitution for the country, he added.

An investigation is underway in Sudan after the security authorities detected a network engaged in subversive acts, Culture and Information Minister Ibrahim Mohamed Khayr announced. According to SUNA news agency, he claimed the network was administered by "remnants of the dissolved communist party supported by foreign circles". Several arrests had been made. The minister said the discovery came "within the context of a series of plots being woven by the Eritrean regime of Isayas Afewerki".

* The Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday celebrated its first independence day with Laurent-Desire Kabila as president. A number of African leaders, including Congolese President Pascal Lissouba, arrived in Kinshasa to take part in the festivities. A planned opposition rally failed to materialise after state radio and television warned potential demonstrators against taking to the streets. BBC Swahili radio said security was much in evidence with soldiers deployed throughout the city. According to the radio, turnout for the celebrations was not as great as expected. It said many people stayed at home in support of the opposition. In his address to mark the event, Kabila urged developed nations to help reconstruct his country.

Sudanese first Vice-President Lt.Gen al-Zubayr Muhammad Salih, who attended the celebrations, claimed relations between the two countries were solid. Sudanese radio also reported DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha as saying DRC was trying to support and develop relations with Sudan.

* The UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) which today replaces UNAVEM III (UN Angola Verification Mission) will initially have a four-month mandate until 31 October. In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Security Council decided to establish MONUA and urged both the Angolan government and UNITA movement to complete the peace process. It particularly called on UNITA to provide information on all armed personnel under its control to facilitate demobilisation, as well as for the speedy conversion of UNITA into a political party. The Security Council noted that MONUA's role would be to assist the Angolan sides in consolidating peace and national reconciliation. Meanwhile, Angolan radio yesterday warned that war could break out again in the country. "The signs are everywhere," it said.

Nairobi, 1 July 1997, 15:15 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, 1 Jul 1997 18:33:28 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 203 for 1 July 1997 97.7.1 Message-ID: <>

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

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