Great Lakes: IRIN Update 259, 9/30/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 259, 9/30/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 259 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday, 30 September 97)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Artillery fire hits Kinshasa again

Artillery fire from the Congo-Brazzaville capital hit Kinshasa again today (Tuesday), AFP reported. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government threatened retaliation yesterday after 17 people were killed in shelling from across the river. Kabila cut short an official visit to Zambia and returned home today to hold an emergency cabinet meeting. "We have all means of stopping this shelling at the source and, if this provocation continues, all means will be used," DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha announced from New York on Monday. AFP said at least six shells fired from Brazzaville struck Kinshasa today. Congolese TV reported that at least one person died and two were serously wounded. The news agency quoted a source in Kinshasa who claimed "the cannon was aimed right at Kinshasa and not at the forces of Sassou Nguesso, who were in exactly the opposite direction." Exchanges in the bitter battle between rebel leader Denis Sassou Nguesso and President Pascal Lissouba have increased in intensity.

DRC Interior Minister Kongolo Mwenze charged that "the government of Brazzaville has told us that these shells were fired by elements of the former special presidential division (DSP) ... who are fighting alongside the supporters of former Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso." A spokesman for Sassou Nguesso's party said "the shelling was ordered by the pseudo-president Pascal Lissouba" as part of a "cynical and Machiavellian" plot to "provoke Kabila's forces to enter the war." He denied that former DSP soldiers were responsible for the artillery fire. Meanwhile, AFP reported that members of the DSP had been taken prisoner by Lissouba's forces. An AFP correspondent said he saw three handcuffed ex-Zairean soldiers, including one former DSP guardsman, arriving in Kinshasa aboard a Congolese government helicopter.

Mai-Mai and Interahamwe surrender

Up to 5,000 Mai-Mai warriors have surrendered in eastern DRC and want to be integrated into the army. Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo, who recently returned from the region, said on Sunday the Mai-Mai began giving themselves up voluntarily three weeks ago, Reuters reported. "They are tired of life in the bush and they want to join the army," Kongolo said. "The problem is some of them are very young, nine or 10-years-old. We will train those who are old enough and put them in the army." Some 800 Interahamwe Hutu militia and Hutu soldiers of the former Rwandan army have also surrendered, the minister said. "There is a possibility we can take them somewhere far from the frontier (with Rwanda) where they can work in the fields and on the roads," he suggested, adding that Kinshasa was negotiating with the Rwandan government on the issue. Meanwhile, state-run Congolese radio said on Monday that some 70 child soldiers demolilised from the army were handed over to their parents after completing a UN-supported re-education and rehabilitation programme.

Massacres of Mai-Mai denied

The Provincial Security Committee for North Kivu has denied what it called "misinformed" media reports alleging the DRC army recently massacred more than 500 Hutu and Mai-Mai fighters who had joined the army, local radio said on Friday. Humanitarian agencies report that more than 4,000 young recruits had recently arrived at the Kinyogote transit centre near Goma.

Masisi situation stabalised

According to a recent humanitarian report, the security situation in Masisi, eastern DRC, has "significantly stabalised" although remains "volatile." It points to continued ethnic animosity between autochtones and Banyarwanda and the existence of numerous armed groups. The last census on Masisi was carried out before 1994 and indicated that 30 percent of the zone's pre-war population was Bahunde, Batembo, Banyanganga and Banande. The remaining 70 percent, or 610,000 people were Banyarwanda - either Hutu or Tutsi.

The report notes that while Hutus were more or less equally distributed in all districts of Masisi, the majority of Tutsis were concentrated in the eastern Bashali district. Osso district in which Masisi centre falls was particularly affected by the violence. There was large-scale destruction of housing and public facilities and close to 50,000 people were made homeless.

Editor detained, party activist missing

DRC police detained the managing editor of the daily 'Le Palmares', Michael Luya, AFP reported on Monday. Police chief inspector Chalwe Raus said Luya was held "in connection with an enquiry" and would be freed when certain checks are carried out, without giving further details. A leading local human rights group AZADHO on Saturday called for an enquiry into the disappearance of two activists of the radical opposition l'Union democratique pour le progres social (UPDS), Reuters said. They were arrested, along with 13 others, during a peaceful protest on 15 August. The group is also concerned for two party leaders seriously ill in detention. Political activity was banned in May for a two-year period leading up to elections. In a letter to the European Union last week, UPDS leader Etienne Tshisekedi described President Laurent-Desire Kabila as a "dictator" and called for international pressure to force the government into creating a state of law, Reuters reported.

South Africa asked to extradite Mobutu's officials

The DRC government has appealed to the South African authorities to extradite senior officials from the regime of late Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko. News organisations said Kinshasa had identified up to 20 of Mobutu's top generals and senior advisers in South Africa and accused them of living lavishly on money looted from the state treasury. The DRC called for their assets to be frozen. According to one radio report, South Africa's deputy foreign minister has ordered an investigation into how the officials entered the country and what money they brought with them.

* Correction: Please note that in Emergency Update 258, Celestin Shabani was incorrectly referred to as a former DRC interior minister. Shabani instead held the portfolio five-years-ago during the premiership of Etienne Tshisekedi.

TANZANIA: Border skirmish with Burundi

Tanzanian and Burundian troops exchanged fire on their tense Lake Tanganyika border over the weekend, the Tanzanian defence ministry announced today. AFP reported that both sides accused each other of starting the shooting. The authorities in Dar es Salaam said a Burundian vessel with soldiers on board had entered Tanzanian territorial waters and attacked Tanzanian fishermen. They then turned their fire on Tanzanian troops who arrived at the scene. The shooting late on Saturday night lasted into Sunday morning. Burundi's defence ministry retorted that Tanzanian troops had opened fire first and were using the alleged incursion by a patrol boat as an excuse. It said Tanzanian gunners had fired on the lake patrol and Burundi military positions. Tanzania said none of its soldiers were hurt and "the situation is under control." AFP said local military commanders on both sides of the border had met later on Sunday and agreed to prevent the conflict escalating. The incident follows months of rising tensions between the two sides.

RWANDA: UNHCR vehicle ambushed, driver killed

A UNHCR truck operated by the German aid agency GTZ was ambushed in eastern Rwanda on Friday morning killing the driver in the resulting crash. It was returning from dropping returnees from the Runda transit centre near Kigali to Kibuye prefecture. The attack took place in Kibumu commune, Kibuye prefecture. The truck, with UN markings, was stopped at a the first vehicle along the road that morning, UNHCR said, before the usual army patrol had opened the road to civilian traffic. Three people travelling in the back of the truck were injured and taken to hospital.

Demobilisation underway

About 4,800 Rwandan soldiers were demobilised on Monday, BBC Kinyarwanda said. According to the report, Vice President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame told the ex-Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers that the demobilisation process was "part of the solution to problems facing the country" and asked them to behave themselves in their new civilian life. An unnamed demobilised soldier interviewed by the radio complained about the inadequacy of the 100,000 Rwandan Francs pay-off and said life would be tough. The government earlier this month announced plans to shed 17,500 RPA soldiers and 40,000 combatants of the ex-Rwandan armed forces over several years. The defence vote currently absorbs 34 percent of the budget.

ANGOLA: Government "disappointed" over sanctions delay

The Angolan government is "disappointed" with the UN Security Council's decision to give the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) another 30 days to comply with the Lusaka peace agreement. "We think that this process must be concluded, otherwise we will have a country which will be eternally postponed," a spokesman for the Angolan presidency told Portuguese Renascenca radio. The Security Council voted on Monday to extend the deadline to 30 October for UNITA to demonstrate "concrete and irreversible steps" on compliance before considering travel sanctions. The Security Council noted that although UNITA had made some progress in validating the 1994 peace accord, the process was not yet irreversible, AFP said.

[A recent report by a USAID mission to Uganda on the conflict in the north of the country recommended, among other measures, reconstruction assistance for the region. The package of initiatives would cost an estimated US$ 6.5 million rather than US$ 5 billion as earlier reported.]

Nairobi, 30 September 1997, 16:15 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: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 19:37:53 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 259 for 30 Sept 1997 97.9.30 Message-ID: <>

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

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