UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No.208 on the Great Lakes (9 July 1997)
* Rwanda's Vice President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame told the Washington Post in an interview published today that the Rwandan army planned, led and directly fought in the rebellion that toppled Mobutu Sese Seko. He said that not only did Rwandan troops spearhead the final assault on Kinshasa, their presence was critical in the capture of three other major cities - Lubumbashi, Kenge and Kisangani in the then Zaire. Kagame claimed that Rwanda effectively created the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) of Laurent-Desire Kabila. He said the plan for the rebellion was hatched in 1996 in response to international indifference over Hutu militia attacks on Rwanda launched from the refugee camps across the border. He noted Rwanda's first goal was to "dismantle the camps." The second was to "destroy the structure" of the Hutu army and militias based in and around the camps. The third broader goal, Kagame said, was to topple Mobutu. It would have been "more suitable" if Congolese rebels had done most of the fighting, Kagame said, but "I don't think they were fully prepared to carry it out alone." And, he added, "we thought doing it halfway would be very dangerous. We found the best way was to take it to the end." The Washington Post stated that Kagame, answering allegations of human rights abuses did not deny "the possibility of individual atrocities" by Rwandan troops, but criticised the United Nations for trying to "deflect the blame". He argued that "their failure to act in eastern Zaire directly caused these problems, and when things blew up in their faces, they blamed us".
* DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, on a state visit to Namibia Monday, accused Western governments of a smear campaign over allegations of massacres by the ADFL in eastern Congo. Botswana radio, reporting his visit, said Kabila claimed France was among those responsible for the campaign. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that he was replacing an investigation by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission led by human rights rapporteur Roberto Garreton and will instead dispatch his own team of experts. The new team, whose composition is yet to be announced, will have the same mandate as the commission's. In response to the UN announcement, Kabila noted that the probe's time frame remains contentious. According to the South African news agency SAPA, Kabila said the region is littered with mass graves. "If they have to start their investigation they must start... when the violations of human rights started in that area when (former President) Mobutu (Sese Seko) was in power." * Jacques Matanda ma Mboyo, a former senior member of radical opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi's Sacred Union, called Tuesday for a "popular front of armed resistance" to the Kabila regime, AFP reported. Matanda ma Mboyo, in Paris, urged the formation of "armed combat cells" to overthrow Kabila's "neo-Mobutuist" regime. He said he was "open to any alliance aimed at establishing the rule of law and the eradication of Tutsi militias and genocidal armies" which, according to him, are "occupying" the former Zaire. He stressed, however, that "a fundamental disagreement on the way to fight" the new regime separated him from Tshisekedi. A long-standing opponent of Mobutu, Matanda ma Mboyo was also part of an attempted rapprochement with Kabila earlier this year which was rebuffed by the ADFL leader. He said the role of the "armed combat cells" would be to paralyse the economy and eliminate "from our territory the Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundian forces which occupy it".
* The US government would help reorganise and train the army of the DRC if asked, the Washington Post reported today. William Twaddell, assistant secretary of state for African affairs said "there may be a role for us on advising on the structure and perhaps even providing at a later date assistance on how they can go about training and organizing their military." Acknowledging that the ADFL has been accused of atrocities against Rwandan Hutu refugees, he said discipline remained a serious problem. He added that "the United States has a clear stake in the policy decisions taken by the new leadership in the Congo" and that US relations with the DRC will depend on progress in creating a broad-based transitional government, respect for human rights, and cooperation with the UN-led probe into the alledged massacres.
* Sudan accepted a framework for negotiations to end the nation's long-running civil war at the IGAD summit today, clearing the way for a resumption of talks, Reuters reports. "The summit welcomed the acceptance by the government of Sudan of the declaration of principles as the basis for discussions and negotiations," the five regional leaders said in a statement. Peace talks between Sudan's president, Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and southern Sudanese rebel leader John Garang, mediated by regional states, broke down in September 1994 when Sudan refused to sign the declaration of principles. "The summit requests the chairman of the IGAD peace initiative to take the necessary measures aimed at a speedy resumption of the negotiations," the IGAD communique said.
* Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni boycotted the IGAD summit in Nairobi today in protest over Sudan's failure to return a group of schoolgirls abducted by Ugandan rebels, the New Vision claims. The 24 schoolchildren were kidnapped from St Mary's College, Aboke, last year by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and are allegedly being held in Sudan. "Museveni said he could not come to Nairobi unless he won the release of the schoolgirls" the paper quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying. Kampala accuses Khartoum of backing the LRA.
* Retreating rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), battling the Ugandan army along the DRC border since June, have taken over President Yoweri Museveni's former bush headquarters in western Uganda, The Crusader reported Monday. The paper said hundreds of civilians have been fleeing Kabalore district since July 1, heading to both Kasese and Fort Portal.
* Senegal has agreed to contribute 520 troops and lead an African peacekeeping force in Congo-Brazzaville, AFP reported yesterday. The planned 1,800-strong mainly African force has still to be formally approved by the UN Security Council and resolve logistical questions. When deployed, the peacekeepers are expected to secure Brazzaville airport, the scene of fighting between forces loyal to President Pascal Lissouba and the militia of his predecessor, Dennis Sassou Nguesso.
Meanwhile, heavy firing reverberated through Brazzaville last night forcing the city's Mayor Bernard Kolelas, the chief mediator, to postpone negotiations called for today. Sassou Nguesso rejected the talks after Lissouba refused to accept a transitional government to organise elections due July 27. Instead, Lissouba argues that the constitution allows him to govern for three months beyond his original mandate, during which time elections would be held. Sassou Nguesso however wants a 'political' rather than a 'constitutional' solution.
* AFP reported the start of reconciliation talks today in Bangui between army mutineers, the military and African mediators to reintegrate the rebels into the Central African Republic's regular army. A ceasefire has held since last week. The fighting erupted in January over pay arrears but escalated into an all-out campaign to oust President Ange-Felix Patasse. A series of army mutinies have broken out in the capital since May 1996. * President Pierre Buyoya fears he has made more foes than friends after a year in power in an ethnically polarised Burundi. "I am concerned for my safety," Buyoya told AP Saturday, "we are in a situation of civil war." The threats he faces includes potential coup attempts by members of his own Tutsi ethnic group, concerned that he is willing to make too many concessions to Hutu rebels as the price for a peace settlement. An assassination plot was foiled in March, leading to the arrest of five people including two soldiers. Buyoya believes he needs two more years before Burundi is ready for a return to constitutional order.
* A Kigali court sentenced a former city official to death on Monday on genocide charges and ordered him to pay the equivalent of around six million dollars in civil damages, AFP reported. The court found Amuri Karakezi, the former head of Kigali's Biryogo sector, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was accused of having organised the killings of Tutsis and Hutu opponents of the then Rwandan regime in the Moslem Nyamirambo district of Kigali, traditionally a less ethnically divided community. Karakezi is to appeal against the sentence. Special courts set up to try genocide suspects in Rwanda have so far sentenced more than 50 people to death.
* A group of exhausted and malnourished Rwandan refugees have managed to cross Congo-Brazzaville and make it into Gabon. At least 365 refugees, including 24 children, left their camp at Bilolo, 30 kms north of Brazzaville, to escape the fighting around the capital. A UNHCR team has been sent from Kinshasa to assess the situation. Gabon is the sixth country known to be sheltering Rwandan refugees. The others are Angola, CAR, Congo-Brazzaville, DRC and Malawi.
* Around 314 Congolese refugees crossed back into the DRC from Zambia as of June 22. [This item corrects IRIN Update 207].
Nairobi, July 9 1997, 15:30 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 18:46:51 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 208 for 9 July 1997 97.7.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970709184424.7244Memail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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