Great Lakes: IRIN Update 229, 8/14/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 229, 8/14/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 229 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 14 August 1997)

* Regional cooperation and development was the theme of a two day mini-summit in Kinshasa between the presidents of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. At the end of the meeting Wednesday, the trioka agreed on a road construction project aimed at linking eastern DRC and western Rwanda/Uganda. The road would connect Beni, Rutsuru, Goma, Walikale and Kisangani in DRC to the two neighbouring countries, with work planned to start in September, Ugandan radio reported. DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila told a news conference that the project had already been approved by the EU but was put on hold after the EU suspended cooperation with the-then Zaire. Kabila also announced that the three countries' rail networks would be linked and joint border security measures would be taken, AFP reported.

* Amnesty International (AI) "is seriously concerned" for the life of DRC local NGO leader Bertin Lukanda, who was arrested by Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) soldiers and is reportedly being held in a military camp. According to the rights group, Lukanda, President of the Maniema branch of the Conseil Regional des Organisations Non-Gouvernmentales (CRONG), an NGO umbrella group, was arrested on 6 August in Kindu, eastern DRC. He was accused of spying for a UN Commission of Inquiry into allegations of massacres in eastern DRC and for having links with the main opposition party, the Democratic Union for Social Progress (UDPS), AI reports. "Human rights organisations in particular have been effectively prevented in many areas from independently investigating or reporting on human rights violations perpetrated by members of the (ADFL)," Amnesty alleges.

* A Burundian court passed death sentences on 14 people accused of taking part in ethnic massacres in 1993, AFP reported today. According to state-run radio the court, located in Ngozi in northern Burundi, pronounced the sentences last week. The 14 were among 40 defendants tried. Thirteen were sentenced to 20-year prison terms, while three were acquitted. The other 10 defendants asked for an adjournment until September so that they can seek the assistance of foreign lawyers.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burundi has expressed "deep concern" over the execution on 31 July of six people condemned to death for their part in the ethnic killings. Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said earlier this week that the executions were especially serious since the condemned had not been provided with any of the judicial guarantees they were entitled to. He noted that in the 150 cases examined by the three criminal chambers of Burundi, 89 death sentences had been handed down, although none of the accused had benefitted from the assistance of a legal adviser or lawyer during their trials. The human rights expert asked the government to cease the execution of persons sentenced to death as long as those conditions persisted.

* Five civilians and a rebel were killed in a guerrilla attack Tuesday on a village near the Burundian capital Bujumbura, AFP reported. One of the rebels was lynched by the villagers. According to a police spokesman, the village was targeted because it allegedly backed the government.

* Burundian Minister of the Interior and Public Security, Col. Epitace Bayaganakandi, has denied speculation of a brewing conflict between the government and the predominantly Tutsi Union for National Progress (UPRONA) led by former president Pierre Buyoya, Burundian radio said Tuesday.

* Tanzanian MPs accused the government of a lack of action over the death of four people allegedly killed by Burundian soldiers on the border, Tanzanian radio reported Wednesday. "What does the government want the Burundians to do to us before it can react?" the radio quoted one MP as saying. In the past two months Burundian soldiers have allegedly killed a woman and a family of three in the sensitive border area. Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete has again denied Burundian allegations that Tanzania is providing military training to Burundian refugees and had no intention of invading the country, radio Tanzania said today.

* Lugufu refugee camp in northwestern Tanzania is a "powderkeg" AFP reports, with tensions running high between those willing to return to the DRC and people opposed to repatriation. The majority of the 35,000 in the camp are Babembe, from the Uvira region, who resisted the advance of the Alliance for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) through the then eastern Zaire. They are allegedly bringing pressure to bear on those volunteering to go home. On 15 July a man was stoned to death in the camp because he was believed to be a DRC government spy.

* With total crop failure in some of Tanzania's key food producing regions WFP predicts a large food deficit "and possibly famine" in parts of the country from September this year to April 1998. Preliminary findings by a joint FAO/WFP and government Food/Crop Assessment Mission in late July in nine most affected regions "portray a black and grim season". Poor rains have forced farmers to replant with little success and adverse weather has also taken its toll in cash crops, hitting local income levels. WFP reports that household stocks in some villages are at nil or minimum and migration is already underway. Strategic Grain Reserve stocks have been depleted to "unprecedented levels" of 17,000 tons as of July. WFP says action to mobilise food imports is needed urgently. * Ugandan troops have deployed in force along the western border with the DRC to comb the Rwenzori mountains for rebels, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported Wednesday. The reinforcements, backed by heavy artillery, arrived at the weekend following President Yoweri Museveni's promise to send an extra 3,000 soldiers to stamp out the insurgency by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Three ADF rebels were killed Tuesday and two soldiers died in a 30 minute gun battle at Bubandi in western Bundibugyo district. Five soldiers were wounded and two rebels captured in the clash.

* Two international human rights groups Wednesday urged the Rwandan government to curb army killings of civilians, AFP said. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said they had written to President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice President Paul Kagame to condemn the reported deaths of between 2,000 to 3,000 civilians in army operations in the northwest of the country in recent months. "It is your duty to order that these indefencible civilian killings and other violations of international law cease immediately and to check that this order is carried out," the letter said in part.

* The UN Security Council Wednesday set out three preconditions for the deployment of peacekeepers to Congo-Brazzaville. There must be "complete adherence" to a "viable ceasefire", international control of the capital's airport and a "clear commitment to a negotiated settlement". A ceasefire signed in Gabon on 13 July between political rivals President Pascal Lissouba and Denis Sassou Nguesso has been repeatedly violated.

* AFP said the Congo-Brazzaville conflict was now widening beyond the capital following an attack on the northern town of Impfondo on Sunday. According to a defence ministry statement, militiamen loyal to ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso launched "guerrilla attacks" against the port, airport and town centre sowing "death and desolation" among the local population. The statement claimed ex-FAR forces were fighting alongside Sassou Nguesso's Cobra militia. Over 500 Rwandan refugees are located in Impfondo, some 900 kms north of Brazzaville. On 11 August UNHCR suspended flights from Kinshasa to northern refugee sites after the local authorities insisted that all flights have a stopover in Brazzaville, despite an earlier agreement with UNHCR.

* Angolan TV reported Wednesday the movement of UNITA troops and military equipment from Bie and Huambo provinces to northeastern Lunda Norte and Lunda Sol. The rationale behind the relocation was because UNITA was planning to shift its headquarters from central to eastern Angola, the broadcast suggested.

* Heavily armed assailants may have killed as many as 10 policemen and eight civilians in gunbattles last night in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, according to news agency reports. The attackers first raided a police station in the south of the city, ransacking its armoury and freeing suspects in police custody. They burnt down a Tourist Police Post Unit before engaging in a firefight with the para-military General Service Unit and regular police. They went on to torch other buildings in the city. The unknown assailants, numbering some 100 according to Kenyan radio, were said to be well-organised and monitored police communications from a radio taken from a dead policemen. The police today arrested 20 youths in connection with the violence and appealed for calm.

Nairobi, 14 August 1997, 15:20 gmt


[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".]


Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 18:16:39 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 229 for 14 Aug 1997 97.8.14 Message-ID: <>

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

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