Great Lakes: IRIN Update 212, 7/16/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 212, 7/16/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 212 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 16 July 1997)

* Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame was "misunderstood" in an interview he gave the Washington Post in which he allegedly claimed Kigali had planned and led the rebellion against ex-Zairean leader Mobutu Sese Seko. In a report by the BBC Kirundi/Kinyarwanda service yesterday, two of Kagame's advisors - Emmanuel Gasana and Claude Dusaidi - said Kagame had meant that Rwanda had supported what was an indigeneous rebellion and provided training to the AFDL. The goal was the dismantling of the refugee camps and the scattering of Hutu forces. Those objectives achieved, "Rwanda decided not to leave the work half done since doing so would have had a negative impact on Rwanda and other countries in the region," Gasana said. "This is why, as he (Kagame) had said during the interview, Rwanda continued to work together with Congolese liberators." AFDL leader Laurent-Desire Kabila, at a press conference in Kinshasa yesterday, announced: "last night Mr Kagame called me and said what was in the Washington Post is not what he had said so I don't really know what he did say but he must come and explain to me." He added there were "no Burundian soldiers, no Ugandan soldiers. Yes we had Rwandese advisers to train and provide technical support but that was it."

* AFP reports that 40 civilians died in crossfire during an army operation in Rwanda's northern Ruhengeri region over the weekend. According to the Rwanda News Agency, more than 100 Hutu rebels were killed in three days of clashes against a 400-500 strong rebel group attempting to set up bases in the area. The rebels were pursued into Kigombe commune. The army today was conducting house-to-house searches in the commune. The army claimed it lost three dead in the operation, but unofficial estimates put the toll at 20.

* Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame arrived in Nairobi for talks with Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi today. The visit is the first high-level contact between the two countries since Kenya closed down the Rwandan embassy in Nairobi 13 months ago after Kigali refused to waive the immunity of a diplomat implicated in an attempted murder of an exiled Hutu politician.

* More than 1,000 Rwandan refugees are sheltering in southeastern Gabon. They are camped in public buildings in Leconi village in a semi-arid region 60 kms from the city of Franceville, after leaving Bilolo on the outskirts of Congo-Brazzaville when fighting broke out in the capital. The Gabonese government has granted the refugees temporary asylum but has asked UNHCR to fly them to Rwanda as soon as possible. Only 50 of the arrivals say they want to return home. A UNHCR team is in Franceville.

* Washington is considering the allocation of around US$10 million to the DRC in financial year 1997 to assist in "key transitional priorities". USAID Chief of Staff Richard McCall, testifying before the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 8, said that "to not engage is to risk losing the opportunity to make a difference" in the DRC. "The Congo," he added, "is at a turning point. The US government, including USAID, believes that we must maximize the opportunities while not ignoring the tremendous challenges."

* Robin Kinloch was named UN Special Envoy to the DRC Monday. Mohamed Sahnoun remains as the Special Representative of the UN and OAU Secretary-Generals for the Great Lakes Region.

* The DRC reopened its border with Burundi yesterday in a further loosening of the regional embargo imposed in the wake of last year's coup in Bujumbura, the BBC reported. The frontier had been closed since 1993 following attacks into Burundi by Burundese Hutu forces in the then Zaire. Both countries expect the resumption of trade to improve relations. Kenya announced a unilateral lifting of fuel sanctions against Burundi two weeks ago, but Kenya Airways is still to resume flights into Bujumbura.

* The Burundian army announced five civilians were killed on Tuesday night when rebels attacked a northern suburb of the capital Bujumbura, Reuters reports today.

* An inaccuracy in Monday's IRIN Weekly Roundup stated that last year's UN International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi found that "genocidal acts were committed by both ethnic groups." Instead, the UN report, while accusing named Tutsi army officers of complicity in the overthrow and murder of President Melchior Ndadaye, used the term 'genocide' only in reference to the subsequent massacres of Tutsis. However, the 1994 International Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Burundi conducted by 13 human rights specialists from eight countries concluded that the murder of Ndadaye and senior members of the elected government "contributed to the atmosphere of terror that itself stimulated killings in the interior of the country." It noted that the predominantly Tutsi army and police "used excessive and unnecessary force" and in some cases introduced "the very violence they were supposed to be quelling."

Nairobi, 16 July 1997, 15:35 GMT


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Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 18:40:57 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 212 for 16 July 1997 97.7.16 Message-ID: <>

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

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