UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes
Tel: +254 2 622147
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 231 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 19 August 1997)
* In an effort to resolve the on-going ethnic conflict in Masisi, eastern DRC, the governor of North Kivu province is scheduled to arrive in the area on Thursday, the local radio in Goma reported yesterday. The radio also said that the governor ordered some 100 traditional chiefs and other local administrators from Masisi staying in Goma to return home today under military escort in order to participate in the peace efforts. Chiefs and administrators who do not return today would be considered deserters, the governor was reported to have said.
At a meeting of provincial officials, Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) representatives and traditional chiefs in Goma on 16 August, the governor said that the insecurity in Masisi is nothing less than the "extension of the genocide of 1994". He said the conflict in Masisi has so far killed an estimated 50,000 people. The area, a mixed population of Hutu, Tutsi and autochtones, has been wracked by fighting involving the ADFL and Simba, Mai-Mai, ex-FAR and Hutu militia rebel groups. Masisi has traditionally been an ethnically sensitive region.
* Local sources report a spate of security incidents last week in the Kadutu area of Bukavu, eastern DRC. On the 12 and 13 August, gunfire was heard during the night in Kadutu, and at least 15 people were said to have been found dead in the area. On the afternoon of 14 August, a grenade exploded under a table in the Kadutu market and at least eight people were reported wounded.
* Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame said yesterday that human rights violations are being dealt with but must be viewed within the context of the ongoing fighting in the northwest region. Responding on Rwandan radio to a series of reports by international human rights groups condemning alleged civilian killings by the army in its counter-insurgency operations, Kagame said it is "as if there is no fighting happening. As if it is simply a violation of human rights." He stressed that the army was battling "groups that are bent on causing insecurity" and their "collaborators". He added, "these elements will have to be fought and will have to be defeated." Kagame however noted: "if there is any problem associated with our troops in the process of fighting these elements of instability, that also will have to be handled, because there are mechanisms to handle that ... The process is there. And the means to investigate are there, and that is all being done."
* The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday extended the detention of four genocide suspects by 30 days to give the prosecution time to finalise its investigations. The four are Sylvian Nsabimana, the former prefect of Butare, Aloys Ntabakuze, the ex-commander of the para-commando battalion, Belgian journalist Georges Ruggiu who worked at Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, and Col. Gratien Kabiligi who served on the Rwandan army's General Staff until July 1994. The tribunal will rule later in the week on a defence counsel request for the provisional release of Hassan Ngeze, a former editor-in-chief of the monthly 'Kangura'. All the suspects were arrested in Kenya last month. According to ICTR rules, they can be detained for a maximum of 90 days after which the indictments must be confirmed or the accused released.
* Burundi's Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama singled out Tanzania as being behind the decision over the weekend by regional foreign ministers to maintain the embargo on Burundi. "We regret that, for undeclared reasons, the Tanzanian delegation is trying to impose its views on other countries," Rukingama told Radio Burundi after the meeting Saturday of regional foreign ministers in Kampala. "We wish to inform the national and international community that obstinately seeking to keep sanctions in place on the Burundian people amounts to irreversibly blocking the peace process and encouraging extremists opposed to dialogue," Rukingama said. He however confirmed that the Burundian government would attend all-party peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, on 25 August.
Meanwhile, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere has backed the Kampala meeting's recommendation for the maintenance of sanctions on Burundi. Speaking from the DRC today where he is on a visit at the invitation of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, Nyerere said "Major Pierre Buyoya's regime has not satisfied the conditions for lifting the sanctions," AFP reported. The sanctions were imposed as a response to the coup that bought Buyoya to power. "For the time being, the Burundian parliament is not functioning because the constitution which governs its activities has been repealed. The activities of the political parties have been suspended," Nyerere said. Nyerere serves as the Burundian peace process mediator. The sanctions recommendations will be presented to a regional summit of heads of state after the 25 August all-party talks.
* Angolan government and UNITA negotiators agreed yesterday over the restoration of state administration in 40 areas controlled by UNITA beginning today, Angolan TV reported. The initial stage does not include the tense Lunda Norte and Lunda Sol provinces. "We can only hope that the process will go ahead as promised - without any disturbances at all - and that difficulties will be of a logistical nature only," Acting Prime Minister Pedro van Dunem said.
* Sudanese rebel leader John Garang has been accused of planning a major offensive to strengthen his hand in future negotiations with the government, a member of a Khartoum allied southern faction has alleged. Arok Thon Arok said in a statement published by local papers that Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Army was preparing "a new military offensive after failure of his recent attempt of occupying Juba (south Sudan's main city) so as to strengthen his negotiating position," AFP reported.
Nairobi, 19 August 1997, 15:00 gmt
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Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 17:50:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 231 for 19 Aug 1997 97.8.19 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970819174917.11274A@dha.unon.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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