Great Lakes: IRIN Update 256, 9/25/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 256, 9/25/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 256 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 25 September 97)

BURUNDI: "Building the Future" meeting on

A UNESCO-sponsored all-party conference on 'Building the Future of Burundi' is due to open in Paris tomorrow (Friday). Burundi authorities described the gathering as a brainstorming session, and expressed optimism over the outcome. Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba said most political parties would be represented. He told the Agence Burundaise de Presse (ABP) on Tuesday that the conference was not a question of holding "negotiations". However, a faction of the main opposition party FRODEBU announced a boycott. Tanzania-based FRODEBU president Jean Minani told BBC Kirundi radio his party had rejected the talks because they were "prepared by (Burundi President) Buyoya". "The talks are not aimed at finding a solution to Burundi's problems, but a solution to Buyoya's problems," he claimed.

Burundi's ambassador to Kenya Stanislas Nakaha said he hoped the conference would encourage more people to participate in the Burundi peace process, not necessarily within the Arusha framework. Regional analysts say the Burundi government is more likely to throw their weight behind such a conference, because it dilutes mediator Julius Nyerere's control over the peace process. The government has accused Nyerere of "bias" in his mediation efforts.

RWANDA: Death becomes a banality - Amnesty

According to Amnesty International (AI), at least 6,000 people - the majority unarmed civilians - "are reported to have been killed in Rwanda between January and August 1997." In a report on Thursday, the rights group said the real death toll is likely to be considerably higher, and returning refugees have been particular targets. AI accused the Rwandan army and Hutu rebels for the killings. "The population of Rwanda is living in a state of fear, knowing that whatever their ethnic origin or their perceived affiliation, they may become targets of arbitrary violence by one side or the other," Amnesty said.

"The international community has allowed death to become a banality in Rwanda once again," the report stressed. It criticised foreign governments for "turning a blind eye to the worsening human rights situation" and advocating the continued repatriation of Rwandan refugees from neighbouring countries.

Court jails 17-year-old

A court in the central Rwandan town of Gitarama has sentenced a 17-year-old boy to three years imprisonment for the murder of four people during the 1994 genocide. Rwandan radio said because Francisco Minani had pleaded guilty and appealed for a pardon, the court reduced his sentence from the six-years sought by the prosecution. Minani, who was aged 14 when he committed the murders, said he was coerced and killed his four nephews to save his own life.

Opposition says army cuts a ruse

The opposition Rally for Democracy and Return of Refugees (RDR) has dismissed Rwandan government plans costed at US$ 39 million to slash the size of the army. "This is a programme meant to provide (Vice President Paul) Kagame with finance to upkeep troops in Zaire, those killing citizens in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri and those he has sent to Burundi," RDR leader Francois Nzabahimana alleged on Wednesday on the BBC Kirundi/Kinyarwanda service.

Troops quit DRC

Rwandan troops have completed their mission and withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the defence ministry said on Thursday. They "have all been pulled out, unless we left some there under an agreement with (President Laurent-Desire) Kabila, but I don't know that," a senior advisor to Kagame told AFP. The Rwandan army's primary goal in the DRC was to dismantle refugee camps used as training centres by Hutu rebels, advisor Claude Dusaidi said. In recent weeks there have been reports of Rwandan troops reinforcing the DRC army in the ethnically troubled Masisi region. Dusaidi said Rwandan soldiers could continue to operate in Masisi "if it is necessary and if the Congolese think it is appropriate."

TANZANIA: Refugee crackdown continues

Tanzanian authorities have arrested approximately 1,000 mainly Burundian refugees in the northwestern town of Ngara, humanitarian sources report. They are being screened at the Mbuba transit centre. Meanwhile, a weekend swoop on refugees living outside their camps in Kigoma town has led to the arrest of 4,000, UNHCR said. As of Wednesday, the UN agency had transported 1,000 Burundians east from Kigoma to Kasulu town. Tanzania has accused refugees of being responsible for banditry in the region.

UGANDA: ADF attacks Kasese again

Allied Democratic Forced (ADF) rebels on Wednesday killed at least 12 people in a fresh raid on the western Ugandan town of Kasese. The private 'Monitor' newspaper said the rebels disguised themselves as security forces and forced people to open their doors in the Nyakasanga suburb. The newspaper said an unspecified number of residents were abducted. The incident comes a week after nine people were kidnapped in the same area by the ADF.

ANGOLA: Pessimism over peace

The troika of international observers on Angola are pessimistic over UNITA's commitment to the fragile peace process. "We remain apprehensive," Portugal's Secretary of State for Cooperation Jose Lamego told Portuguese radio Renascenca today. The former rebel movement has until 30 September to comply with the 1994 peace accord or risk UN Security Council sanctions. The international observer nations - Portugal, the US and Russia - believe UNITA has made "little progress", Lamego said. The troika will meet on Friday in New York to consider a report by the UN Secretary-General based on findings by his Special Representative to Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye. Beye met UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi yesterday.

SUDAN: Peace talks questioned

Sudan's exiled former prime minister said a new round of peace talks between the government and the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had little chance of success, AFP reported. "Everything indicates that the (Khartoum) regime is not serious in the search for a complete solution," Sadiq al-Mahdi said in a statement issued in Cairo on Wednesday. The government and SPLA agreed to resume talks in Nairobi on 28 October under the aegis of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Al-Mahdi said the results of the meeting would be evaluated by the opposition National Democratic Alliance - of which he is a key member - which groups the SPLA with the northern opposition.

Nairobi, 25 September, 14:40 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this report, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to]

Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 17:55:22 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 256 for 25 Sept 1997 97.9.25 Message-ID: <>

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

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