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IRIN Emergency Update No. 221 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 31 July 1997)
* Tanzania and Zambia have called for lifting economic sanctions against Burundi, but said a regional arms embargo should remain alongside the ongoing peace process, Tanzanian radio reported. A joint statement by President Benjamin Mkapa and his visiting Zambian counterpart Frederick Chiluba issued yesterday said an end to the economic embargo was necessary to ease the burden on Burundi citizens. The two presidents also urged the international community to render essential aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help rebuild the country.
* A spokesman for members of Burundi's opposition FRODEBU party, exiled in Tanzania, told BBC radio that investigations were underway to find the perpetrators of alleged assassination attempts against party leaders. The spokesman, Simba Rushatsi, described those responsible as "politicians opposed to FRODEBU efforts regarding peace and democracy". He said they were also against Nyerere's mediation efforts and attempts to bring the peace process to Arusha rather than continue with the ongoing talks in Rome. By attempting to kill FRODEBU leaders, they were trying to show there was no stability in Tanzania, he claimed. He refused to say categorically who was responsible because of the investigation. Yesterday, Tanzanian radio reported a FRODEBU statement as saying opponents within the party were behind the attacks.
* Meanwhile, Burundi's Institutional Reforms Minister Eugene Nindorera, who earlier said that next month's Arusha talks had been postponed, yesterday asserted that the Rome talks between the government and CNDD had been temporarily suspended. He told the BBC's Kirundi service it had become apparent that talks between the two sides had been unable to stop the war, and thus the dialogue should be extended to include all parties. However he pointed out that the Arusha meeting on August 25 faced serious problems "because we cannot hold serious talks while the war is continuing".
* Local press reports in Burundi claim CNDD has again launched a recruitment drive in the southern Makamba province and attempted to create parallel administrations in the communes of Mabanda and Vugizo. Heavy fighting between rebels and the military has been reported in Vugizo over the last few days.
* Six Burundians, convicted of taking part in ethnic massacres, were executed by hanging at Bujumbura's Mpimba prison early today, AFP reported. The six defendants - three Hutus, two Tutsis and one Twa - had all lost their appeals after receiving the death sentence. AFP said these were the first executions in Burundi since the early 1980s.
* An FAO/WFP report on the food situation in Burundi says food security has been deteriorating steadily since 1993 due to civil war, large population displacement and reduced agricultural production. The situation was further aggravated by the regional economic embargo imposed last July. The report, which is based on an assessment mission between 18 June and 1 July 1997, noted that malnutrition among adults and children was widespread and hundreds of cases of kwashiorkor and marasmus had been admitted to therapeutic units in the most affected areas. The report predicted that the food situation would deteriorate throughout the country in the coming months.
* Representatives from Burundi and DRC have followed up a meeting between the two countries' interior ministers which led to the opening of the common border earlier this month. Burundi radio quoted DRC's director-general of immigration, who was in Bujumbura, as saying there was already some free movement of people between the two countries. Uvira residents could cross into Burundi for a period of 72 hours without needing a visa in order to buy basic commodities. He also said that immigration officials from North and South Kivu would soon receive training in Burundi.
* The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has described as "premature" a decision by the UN Secretary-General to nominate a special representative for the country. AFP quoted diplomatic sources as saying DRC International Cooperation Minister Thomas Kanza assessed that the "time was not right" for the arrival of Robin Kinloch, who was appointed special representative by the Secretary-General earlier this month.
* The local authorities in North Kivu have expressed concern over increasing incidents of banditry in the province. According to the official Congolese Press Agency (ACP), provincial governor Leonard Kanyamuhanga Gafundi told a security meeting earlier this week that all "irregular" military activity should be resisted, including any arrests without a warrant after 6pm. Soldiers were ordered back to barracks and members of self-defence committees would henceforth be armed, he said. The governor expressed concern over the proliferation of arms in the province, alleging "beyond doubt" that this was due to the prolonged presence of Rwandan refugees in the area. According to ACP, Kanyamuhanga's concerns were echoed by the mayor of Goma, Kisuba Shebaeni, earlier this month who ordered that night patrols should be strengthened.
* A Rwandan official has announced the forthcoming resumption of discussions with Burundi over the issue of repatriating some 4,000 Burundian refugees from Rwanda. The sub-prefect of Butare province Vincent Ngezahayo told AFP that Rwanda was seeking a speedy solution to the matter as it believed the camps constituted a security problem in the south of the country. UNHCR has said it will not promote or facilitate the repatriation of Burundian refugees because of the security situation in their country.
* SPLA radio has broadcast a denial that pro-government south Sudan forces have recaptured some areas under SPLA control. Sudan People's Liberation Army spokesman, Commander Deng Alor, described the claim by Riak Machar, leader of the pro-government south Sudan parties, as "mere lies...in order to give the people the illusion he [Riak Machar] was capable of doing something". He denied that any battles had taken place with Machar's troops.
In another broadcast, the radio quoted Deng Alor as saying the SPLM/A was ready to begin talks with the Sudanese government but only if these were based on the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) declaration of principles.
* Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has described the situation in western Uganda as a "military challenge requiring a military solution". Ugandan radio said that during a tour of the western Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts this week, Museveni promised to "flush out bad elements of former governments" from the area. He said the government had devised a plan involving the deployment of 3,000 extra troops and liaison with neighbouring countries. Museveni also ruled out peace talks with the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
* Ugandan police said two explosions in Kampala yesterday killed six people and injured over 40 others. A police statement issued today said the grenade blasts occurred last night near the Kibuye roundabout. The motive was unclear but enquiries were underway, police said.
* Kenya's High Commissioner to Uganda, Peter ole Nkurayia, yesterday denied Ugandan charges that its citizens in Kenya were being detained and harassed. According to PANA, he said the current security operations in Nairobi targeted all illegal immigrants, alleging that foreigners had been involved in recent rioting in the country. He said the Ugandan government was "over-reacting" to the measures. Uganda's state minister for foreign affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, on Tuesday summoned Nkurayia to protest against the detention of Ugandans in Kenya. * Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos yesterday rejected any outside involvement in arranging a meeting with former rebel UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi. According to PANA, presidential spokesman, Aldemiro Vaz Da Conceicao, said any such involvement was "untimely and uncalled-for". On Monday, Savimbi - who was on a visit to Cote d'Ivoire - had asked the Ivorian authorities to intervene in arranging a meeting with dos Santos. The spokesman said this was unnecessary because dos Santos had agreed to meet Savimbi in Angola.
UNITA radio today claimed five civilians were killed in Angolan army operations in Huila province over the last few days. It said 30 Angolan soldiers "invaded" the Ngongo area three days ago, killing the five and wounding many others. UNITA urged the UN observer mission (MONUA) to intervene.
Nairobi, 31 July 1997, 14:45 gmt [ENDS]
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Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 17:55:09 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 221 for 31 July 1997 97.7.31 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970731175022.14018A@dha.unon.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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