UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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This is number 21 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
5 - 11 August 1996
# Burundi's new government became totally cut off from its neighbours at the weekend after Zaire became the last state in the region to impose sanctions. As more and more African governments announced sanctions, the United Nations and aid agencies expressed concerns about the impact of sanctions on Burundi's vulnerable groups and appealed for special dispensation for humanitarian cargo. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yasushi Akashi and Marrack Goulding, Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs have written to the OAU expressing their concern. UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF have made calls for exemptions for humanitarian cargo. The non-governmental organisation, Medecins sans Frontieres said in a press release that the blockade was drying up medical supplies and that hospitals and health centres may have to close.
# Kenyan port authorities said on Friday that they were holding 19 containers and nine other cases of cargo destined for Bujumbura. More than 45,000 tonnes of Burundian imports and 3,000 tonnes of exports were handled at the port of Mombasa last year. Most of Burundi's trade, however, goes through Tanzania. By the weekend, around 9,500 tonnes of goods, including 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, were blocked at Kigoma on the Tanzanian shore of Lake Tanganyika.
Tanzania was the first country in the region to implement the agreements reached at the 31 July Arusha Summit, with an announcement in early August that all trade and other economic links with Burundi had been cut. Kenya, Uganda and, after some conflicting signals, Rwanda followed suit. On Friday Zaire announced that air, land and water links with Burundi had been suspended. Other countries applying sanctions include Ethiopia, Malawi, Cameroon and South Africa. South Africa also agreed on 7 August to send a special envoy to help coordinate multilateral efforts to end the crisis in Burundi. The OAU announced on 5 August that it was withdrawing its contingent of 40 military observers from Burundi.
The UN Security Council has yet to take a stand on whether it will support the sanctions. So far, Canada is the only western government which has expressed unreserved support. In a statement issued on 8 August, Canada praised "the firm and courageous stand" of the region's heads of state and said that Canada stood ready with other donors to support reconstruction in Burundi, but that there must be stability and peace for this effort to succeed. British Overseas Development Minister Lynda Chalker cancelled a visit to Burundi saying that it was "not prudent" for her to travel to Bujumbura in view of the sanctions. Chalker made a three day visit to Rwanda and also visited Uganda. On 9 August the US Embassy in Bujumbura advised US nationals to leave. France has said that it did not want to comment on the measures agreed by neighbouring countries as it was "a private responsibility".
Belgian airline, Sabena, the only airline still flying to Bujumbura, announced on Saturday that next Tuesday's flight may be the last for several weeks. Air France cancelled its weekend flight from Paris to Bujumbura via Nairobi. Rwandan Air and Ethiopian Airlines have also suspended flights to Bujumbura.
# Hutu rebels have been accused by the Burundi Army of killing as many as 32 civilians and wounding 28 more in Cibitoke province on Friday night. No independant reports of the new massacre have yet been received. Last week Amnesty International released a report claiming that the Burundi government killed at least 110 unarmed civilians on 26 July in Carama, near Bujumbura and an unknown number in Giheta in Gitega province a few days later. These charges follow allegations in a UN report that the Army killed thousands of Hutu civilians between April and July. The Army has denied the accusations, but a minister in the new government admitted that there were people in the army "who did not have clean hands".
# Burundi's new President Pierre Buyoya said that he was ready to talk with rebel groups if they showed signals that they are ready to denounce "the violence and ideology of genocide" and lay down their weapons. The leader of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD/FDD), Leonard Nyangoma has said that he is prepared to meet with the President if he (Buyoya) is not implicated in the assassination of Burundi's first democratically elected president in October 1993. The UN has prepared a report identifying those responsible for the assassination of former president, Melchior Ndadaye during a failed coup, but the report has not yet been published.
The Burundi regime, meanwhile, announced at the weekend that it will set up a transitional National Assembly that will include members of the previous legislative assembly which was suspended following the 25 July coup. A bill creating the transitional assembly is expected to be adopted during the next ministerial meeting.
# Rwandan refugees continued to head home from northern Burundi last week, but movements slowed down considerably on Saturday when only 50 refugees signed up for repatriation. By 10 August, UNHCR reports that more than 23,000 Rwandan refugees had returned to Rwanda from Burundi since the beginning of the month - some 8,600 or so returning on Thursday. UNHCR also says that it expects large numbers of refugees to continue repatriating in the coming week. In July, 15,000 Rwandans were forcibly expelled from camps in northern Burundi by the Burundi government. About 45,000 Rwandan refugees remain in Burundi.
# Rwanda's National Assembly passed a bill on 9 August that opens the way for trials of more than 80,000 detainees accused of participating in the genocide. The bill, which covers the judicial treatment of inquiries into genocide, has been the subject of much debate and dozens of revisions. The bill was adopted by 47 votes in favour, with one against and five abstentions. The legislation must now be put before the constitutional court before it is promulgated by Rwanda's president.
# The publishing director of a pro-Hutu Rwandan newspaper has been arrested by the Rwandan government one week after a journalist with the same publication was detained by the authorities. The press freedom organisation, Reporters sans Frontieres have denounced the arrests.
# Fourteen bus passengers were killed and another 30 injured in two separate attacks outside the northern district capital of Gulu. Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are accused of the killings. The group is also reported to have killed at least 24 more people during a clash with Government forces in the Gulu area. Earlier this week Uganda announced that it had stepped up its fight against the rebel group by making sweeping changes in top military ranks and increased defence spending.
# A court in Kinshasa has given two year jail terms to two Russian pilots whose plane crashed into a Zairian market in January killing more than 300 people. The two pilots were found guilty of manslaughter. The court ruled that the Zairian firms, African Air and SCIBE Airlifting, as owner and charterer were legally responsible for compensating the victims.
# Zaire's supreme court was scheduled to begin hearing
a challenge on Friday to the legality of the Government
of Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo. Opposition leaders
say that President Mobutu Sese Seko acted illegally
when he named Mr. Kengo to head a government two years
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From: UN DHA IRIN <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 18:54:53 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #21 5-11 August 1996 96.8.11 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.91.960812185210.13874Cfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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