Great Lakes: IRIN Update 291, 11/13/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 291, 11/13/97

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 291 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 13 November 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN special rapporteur criticises DRC government

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) says the record of the first few months of the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who took power in May, is "less than satisfactory". In a report to the General Assembly, Robert Garreton said the new government in Kinshasa had eliminated a number of human rights, including the civil rights to life and liberty.

Garreton urges free elections to help heal ethnic divides

The Special Rapporteur added that the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), had failed to advance the peace process. According to the report, ethnic conflicts have not been settled, nor will they be settled until the DRC government commits itself to a policy of reconciliation. Garreton recommends the government immediately begins the process of building democracy with timetables for the holding of elections. The report did say, however, that the capture of power by Kabila's ADFL did have "some positive aspects", such as end to extortion and looting, increased security in the cities and a drop in ordinary crime.

Garreton says conditions for democracy do not exist

According to Garreton's report, none of the required conditions for democracy exist in the country. There is no respect for human rights, power is not vested in the government by the people through free elections, there is no separation of powers, the laws are not enforced by the authorities, there is no equality before the law, the armed forces and police are not at the service of everyone, the courts do not perform their functions independently, political parties do not express themselves freely, and there is no freedom of the press. Garreton, who was denied access to the country and declared "persona non grata" by the authorities, says that he compiled the report after interviewing and hearing reports from a number of organisations.

Officials say UN rights probe will be given "green light"

A BBC report yesterday (Wednesday) quoted senior DRC officials as saying a UN human rights investigative team would be allowed to work across the entire country. The head of a government body that oversees contacts with the UN, Emanuel Kamanzi, told the news organisation he hoped the investigators would now take the government's point of view into account. The team's three leaders arrived back in Kinshasa on Tuesday and have already informed the government of their plan to operate two simultaneous missions - one to Mbandaka in the northwest and the other to Kisangani in the east.

Kabila accuses some of his followers of abuse of position

DRC state radio, monitored by Reuters, yesterday reported Kabila has accused some officials and members of his entourage of abusing their positions and told the guilty parties to stop. Information Minister Raphael Ghenda said Kabila had "forbidden" officials at the last cabinet meeting to "peddle influence." "The head of state drew the attention of ministers to the abuses committed by certain of his collaborators at the presidency and at the ministries who have been taking advantage of their positions," Ghenda was quoted as telling the radio.

BURUNDI: Government labels arms embargo proposal "hypocritical"

The Bujumbura authorities have criticised a report by the UN's human rights Special Rapporteur on Burundi urging the easing of sanctions as soon as the government shows a tangible commitment to peace and national reconciliation. "We are not very pleased by the report," Pierre-Claver Nzeyimana, Chef de Cabinet in the prime minister's office told IRIN. "The report talks of the easing of sanctions, we want their total lifting." He stressed the government is committed to all-party peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania. However, he complained that Tanzanian mediator Julius Nyerere has failed to convene the proposed meeting. In his report, Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro also called for the imposition of an arms embargo on Burundi which he said should be directed at both government and rebel forces. "This is hypocrisy," Nzeyimana said. "Everybody knows an embargo on guns would be against the government but not the rebels."

RWANDA: Report shows street-children are a product of 1994 genocide

Eighty-seven percent of Rwandan street children surveyed in a recent study said they found their way on to the streets as a consequence of the 1994 genocide. According to the study, poverty, disharmony at home, or the loss of parents/guardians were among the factors pushing them on to the streets. One-third of the children, colloquially known as 'mayibobo', said they had never been registered at school. They complained of health problems, typically malaria, and said their biggest security worry was being beaten up. The survey, completed in November by researchers from the University College Cork, Ireland, and the ministry of youth, questioned 297 children.

BURUNDI-TANZANIA: Rwanda says border tension rising again

Rwandan radio said tension was once again increasing between Burundi and Tanzania. A report quoted Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa accusing Bujumbura yesterday of ridiculing democracy and not respecting human rights. Relations between the two countries have been tense for months.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Sassou Nguesso names new military chiefs

Congo's new ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso has named close aides to key posts in the army, the police and the gendarmerie, according to an announcement on Wednesday from the government spokesman, AFP reported. The government's Radio Liberte quoted spokesman Francois Ibovi as saying the appointments were part of "the urgent reorganisation of public order forces" following the five-month battle to oust former president Pascal Lissouba. Ibovi said a former military academy director, Brigadier-General Joseph Niombela, had been made the secretary-general and military advisor in the defence ministry which Sassou Nguesso would head. An ex-head of military intelligence Colonel Gilbert Moukoki was appointed head of the army, while Captain Fulgor Ongobo, a frigate commander, was given back the command of the central African country's small navy. Colonel Medard Ndoudi became air force chief.

Life slowly returns to normal in capital - witnesses

Meanwhile, residents told IRIN life was slowly returning to normal in the devastated capital Brazzaville. They said traffic of cars and trucks had notably increased within the last days and some taxis and buses were also now circulating in town. Two petrol stations reopened yesterday, but only with limited quantities of fuel and a long queue had now formed. They also said displaced people were drifting back, but there had been no big influx.

SUDAN: Sudan rejects SPLA proposal for confederation

The Sudanese government said on Wednesday it had rejected a proposal by rebels for a confederation between the north and south of the country as a means to ending 14 years of civil war. A government delegation led by Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammad Taha told a news conference that the proposal made by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) during peace talks which broke down on Tuesday was "irrelevant and illogical". But later in Khartoum, AFP reported Taha as saying on state television some progress had been made and an agreement reached with the SPLA rebels on the need for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. On Tuesday, Reuters reported the SPLA as blaming Khartoum's intransigience for the breakdown and ruling out a ceasefire before the next round of talks slated for April 1998.

KENYA: Twelve die from cholera on Kenyan coast

At least 12 people have died from cholera in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and tourist resort of Malindi, AFP reported the medical officer for the coastal region as saying on Wednesday. S.K. Shariff said the cholera outbreak, which was reported to have started at Kwa Jiwa slums in Malindi on 31 October, had caused the deaths of seven people in Malindi and five in Mombasa. Some 17 cases have been admitted at Mombasa's general hospital and 12 others admitted at Malindi's municipal clinic, Shariff said. He appealed to the public to observe strict hygiene and boil all drinking water, but said there was no need for panic. "Hospitals on the coast are fully equipped to deal with emergency situations," AFP quoted him as saying. Scores of people have already died in a cholera outbreak in western Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania.

HUMAN RIGHTS: UN rights head calls for fresh approach

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has called for fresh approaches to human rights. "As we prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I have told my colleagues that I do not see this as an occasion for celebration," she said, adding: "Count up the results of 50 years of human

rights mechanisms, 30 years of multi-billion dollar development programmes and endless high-level rhetoric and the global impact is quite underwhelming."

In an address at Oxford University on Wednesday entitled "Realising human rights: 'Take hold boldly and duly'", Robinson said the debate on human rights must give more priority to current complex human rights issues, such as the right to development, the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights and empowerment of people with disabilities, gender mainstreaming and issues of accountability in furthering those and other rights.

"We still have widespread discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religious belief or sexual orientation, and there is still genocide -- twice in this decade alone'," Robinson said.

Nairobi, 13 November 1997 15:30 gmt


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Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 17:53:21 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 291 for 13 November 1997 97.11.13 Message-ID: <>

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

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