IRIN Emergency Update No. 223 on the Great Lakes, 8/5/97

IRIN Emergency Update No. 223 on the Great Lakes, 8/5/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 223 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 5 August 1997)

* Violent incidents continued in parts of Burundi as four people were killed when an anti-tank mine exploded in Nyaruhongo on a road between Bujumbura Rural and Bururi provinces. According to defence ministry spokesman Col Isaie Nibizi, the blast on Sunday was detonated by a minibus travelling along the road. Nine people were killed yesterday when an anti-tank mine exploded under a minibus carrying 21 people in the northwest Cibitoke province, Burundi radio reported. It said nine others were injured. In further violence, UN sources reported that 29 people were killed in battles between rebels and government soldiers in Kabezi commune of Bujumbura Rural during the last week of July.

According to Nibizi, people in the southern Makamba province were living in fear as rebel infiltrations from Tanzania continued. He added however that the incursions were less intense than before. Gunfire heard in the hills around Bujumbura last Friday was due to an army operation to flush out "assailants" crossing from Bujumbura Rural towards the south, Nibizi said. He stressed that the situation was now back to normal.

Nibizi also acknowledged that Burundi did not comply with a request from Tanzania to remove its troops from along the border, saying the "mission of all armed forces is to control borders". He said he was not surprised Tanzania had also stationed troops on its side of the border, neither was he worried. BBC radio pointed out that deteriorating relations between Tanzania and Burundi could have an adverse effect on the Burundi all-party peace talks, scheduled for August 25 in Arusha.

* The new bishop of Kigali diocese yesterday apologised to the Rwandan people, on behalf of the church, for its failure to openly denounce the 1994 genocide. Vice-President Paul Kagame who attended the bishop's inauguration ceremony told thousands of Rwandans that the government would cooperate with the church in fostering people's welfare.

* An article in South Africa's 'Mail and Guardian' newspaper last Friday reported that Rwanda's parliament was demanding the arrest of the newly-appointed governor of the troubled Ruhengeri prefecture, claiming he was involved in the 1994 genocide. The article said Boniface Rucagu was actually on the government's own list of genocide suspects, although President Pasteur Bizimungu has said the inclusion is a mistake. Genocide survivors allege Rucagu was appointed Ruhengeri governor two months ago as a political measure to quell unrest among Hutus, and say there is ample evidence he was involved in orchestrating the massacres. Rucagu has denied any participation in the killings.

* IRIN apologises for an item contained in yesterday's weekly update, taken from media reports which were erroneous. The item said Physicians for Human Rights estimated that 3,000-5,000 people had been killed in Rwanda's northwest region between May and June. The actual estimate, quoted in a PHR report, was 2,000-3,000. The Rwandan government has pointed out that the figures are exaggerated.

* An EU ministerial delegation arrived in Kinshasa yesterday for two days of talks with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leaders to discuss the democratisation process, humanitarian assistance and cooperation with the EU, AFP reported.

* UNHCR said its officials in DRC are due to visit Kigoma in Tanzania this week, along with the governor of South Kivu, to discuss the repatriation of DRC refugees. A return by boat of a first group of 300 people was postponed after the Tanzanian authorities stated that potential returnees should be officially welcomed back. According to UNHCR, after a comprehensive registration in the camps, the number of DRC refugees had dropped from 97,000 to about 75,000.

* The North Kivu provincial security committee has called on traditional chiefs to leave Goma and return to their villages in order to help combat rebel activity and restore peace. This would be carried out in conjunction with the military and national police, according to a statement broadcast by local radio yesterday. The statement also urged the international community to increase the size of rehabilitation programmes in the province.

* DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila was due in Luanda today for two days of talks with his Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Economy Minister Pierre Victor Mpoyo who arrived in Luanda Sunday to prepare for the visit told the Angolan news agency the trip was aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.

* The Kenyan government has sought to reassure investors and the Kenyan people that the situation is under control, after the IMF decided to suspend loans to the country. A cabinet meeting yesterday said the government would use available resources to implement priority programmes. It reaffirmed the government's commitment to the reform process. President Daniel arap Moi also held talks with religious leaders to discuss constitutional issues. A bill setting up the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission was published yesterday.

* Sudan is to resume food drops to inaccessible southern areas, the 'Akhbar al Youm' daily reported today. It quoted an unnamed official of the government's humanitarian aid commission as saying the drops had been stopped because of difficulty in obtaining rebel permission, the hijacking of aid and the "tolerance" of Operation Lifeline Sudan towards the south Sudan rebels. However, according to AFP, the official said OLS operations were now being run "satisfactorily". He added that the Sudanese commission was planning to add 16 new sites as aid recipients. Yesterday, the human rights organisation African Rights accused the Sudanese authorities of targeting the Nuba people in central Sudan, claiming that hundreds of civilians had been killed.

* The Sudanese army has warned of increased political instability following perceived moves by the authorities to vest more powers in the Supreme Court, the Inter Press Service reported today. It said senior officers viewed the measure as an effort to reduce the military's role which could plunge the nation into crisis.

Nairobi, 5 August 1997, 14:45 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".]

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

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