UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 235 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 26 August 1997)
* The Burundian government has again accused former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere of a pro-rebel bias, bringing into question his ability to continue as Burundi peace mediator. "Observers will see that the mediator has already chosen his side and that he is no longer capable," Burundian Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama told the BBC Kirundi service yesterday. Local sources say the intense distrust by the Tutsi establishment towards Nyerere's mediation effort means that, for the Burundian government at least, the Arusha process is effectively over.
Nyerere Monday postponed the all-party peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, to consult regional leaders, AFP said. But, according to IPS, Nyerere remains adamant over his continued role. "I will not pack my bag. I will continue to mediate ... because that is what I believe is the solution to Burundi's problem," he reportedly said. A spokesman for the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) told IPS that the government "is not interested in talks. They think they can win the war on the battlefield." CNDD representatives were present at Arusha. Former Burundi president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya stressed, "those who are using delaying tactics will finally lose the game," AFP reported.
The controversy surrounding the Arusha peace process has widened from an intra-Burundi dispute to one that has embroiled Bujumbura and Dar-es-Salaam in a bellicose exchange of accusations. Burundi claims that Tanzania is sheltering Hutu rebels and Dar-es-Salaam has alleged that President Pierre Buyoya is planning a military strike against refugee camps in the country.
* South African President Nelson Mandela yesterday defended DRC leader Laurent-Desire Kabila against allegations of ethnic massacres by his forces. "Kabila assured me these allegations were false," Mandela said according to Reuters. "At no time did his own people take part in so-called massacres." Kabila is on an official visit to South Africa.
* Caritas reports there are some 2,000 displaced people in the town of Kalamie, Shaba province, awaiting transport to return to their homes in South Kivu. Outside the town there are an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 who need assistance and their general condition is "poor" according to the Catholic relief agency. Since May, Caritas has returned 6,300 displaced from Kalemie to Uvira, South Kivu.
* While on a visit to DRC last week, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere called for the reintegration of Banyamulenge within the country. "Why? You have lots of unoccupied land and you don't know what to do with it (but) you refuse to accept your brothers who don't have any," 'La Tempeste des Tropiques' reported him as saying. Meanwhile, DRC civil servants are unhappy with the government's new salary scale and have threatened to strike this week unless their grievances are addressed, the paper said.
* Distribution has begun of 4,000 metric tons of maize and 205 metric tons of beans to drought-affected persons in Tanzania under WFP's current emergency operation. Thousands of villagers in the affected areas of central and northern Tanzania are reported to be walking long distances in the hope of receiving even a minimal quantity of food. Lacking the purchasing power to acquire the limited amount of produce available in local markets, these populations are now consuming wild fruits or migrating in search of assistance, WFP said. The third and last tranche of WFP relief food was originally intended to assist some 100,000 persons. It is believed that this food will now have to be shared amongst thousands more, WFP reported.
* A Ugandan army commander has appealed for volunteers to negotiate with rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) over the release of 19 Roman Catholic seminarians abducted on 16 August, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported. "I am making an appeal that if there is any way to reach the ADF rebels tell them that the children have nothing to do with their conflict with the government, the government is ready to provide logistics," Col. Katumba Wamala said. Meanwhile, the ADF reportedly ambushed a mini-bus Monday killing one person and wounding four as they travelled between Fort Portal and the western district of Kasese. The army launched a major sweep and picked up 200 people for interrogation on the whereabouts of the rebels, the private Central Broadcasting Service said.
* Newly acquired Congolese government Russian-made helicopters attacked positions held by rebel leader Denis Sassou Nguesso in eastern Brazzaville today. It is the first airborne assault by the forces of President Pascal Lissouba since hostilities broke out on 5 June, AFP reported. Peace talks were due to resume today in Libreville on the basis of a new set of proposals by Gabonese President Omar Bongo. Lissouba and Sassou Nguesso had been presented with the plan to study last week. Under the new initiative Lissouba would reportedly remain in power after 31 August, the end of his mandate, while Sassou Nguesso's party would propose a prime minister who would lead a government of national unity. His party would also head the defence ministry. The government radio rejected the formula Saturday because it gave too much power to Sassou Nguesso, AFP said.
Nairobi, 26 August 1997, 16:10 gmt
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Date: Tue, 26 Aug 1997 19:09:24 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 235 for 26 Aug 1997 97.8.26 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970826190902.420Cemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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