Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 298, 11/24/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 298, 11/24/97


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IRIN Update No. 298 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 22-24 November 1997)

RWANDA: Giciye reported calm after heavy fighting

The Rwanda news agency (RNA) said the town of Giciye, in Gisenyi prefecture, was now calm after fierce fighting erupted there last week following a rebel attempt to storm the local prison. The building was completely destroyed, RNA added. In an interview with Radio France Internationale over the weekend, military spokesman Richard Sezibera said the rebels had no bases in the country. "They pretend to be civilians during the day, and at night they organise and attack," he stated. The authorities were trying to "politically educate" local people to reject the rebels. "We think this education, coupled with military operations, will yield some fruit," Sezibera said. It was possible the rebels had rear bases in the Democratic Repubic of Congo, but the armies of the two countries were cooperating to combat them, he added.

No need to cross into DRC yet, Kagame says

Vice-President Paul Kagame also stressed his country was cooperating with the DRC. According to AFP, he told the French daily 'Le Figaro' there was no reason "at the moment" for the Rwandan army to cross the border in pursuit of "genocidal militia" and ex-FAR soldiers who he blamed for the insecurity in northwest Rwanda.

BURUNDI: Tanzania expels government representative

Tension between Burundi and Tanzania increased over the weekend after Dar es Salaam expelled the Burundi government's only representative. The Burundi authorities on Friday expressed "deep indignation" over the expulsion of Clavera Maregeya, saying she was "arrested by six men before dawn in front of her children". A government statement said the envoy had been the victim of "inhuman and demeaning treatment". The Burundi embassy in Dar es Salaam is staffed by exiled members of the opposition Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) who are not recognised by the Burundi government.

FROLINA announces resumption of military operations

A Tanzania-based Burundi rebel organisation, the Front pour la liberation nationale (FROLINA), says its armed wing has "resumed" military operations in Burundi. In a press release, FROLINA said the decision followed an 18-month ceasefire declared unilaterally to give international mediation efforts a chance to succeed. FROLINA said its military offensive, launched on 27 October, "lies within the final phase of the liberation of the Burundian people". It claimed its People's Armed Forces (PAF) occupied military barracks in the southern Burundi areas of Kabonga, Mugina and Mukerezi.

Bagaza formally charged with Buyoya murder plot

Former president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza has been formally charged with plotting to kill the current leader Major Pierre Buyoya, AFP reported. It quoted a source from the state military prosecution as saying Bagaza, who leads the hardline Tutsi Parti pour le redressement national (PARENA), was accused of "plotting against the life of the head of state and the illegal possession of weapons". PARENA Secretary-General Cyrille Barancira denied the existence of a plan to assassinate Buyoya. Speaking to AFP, he also charged there were "political motives" to the detention of Bagaza, who has been under house arrest since January.

Karuzi regroupment camps should be empty by year-end

The governor of Karuzi province, Colonel Gabriel Gunungu, has said all regroupment camps in the province will probably be closed by the end of the year. He told the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) that until the first half of 1996, which he described as the height of the crisis caused by civil war, the province registered 120,000 regrouped people, mostly in the Gihogazi, Bugenyuzi and Gitaramuka communes. Of these 50,000 had already returned to their collines, and the remaining 70,000 were now going home.

KENYA: Thousands of refugees at risk as storms batter camps

According to Kenyan press reports, heavy rains battering northeast Kenya risked leaving thousands of refugees homeless as camps in Garissa district were submerged. Structures in the Dadaab camps of Ifo and Hadgera were flattened by floodwater. The nearby camp of Dagahaley was dry but completely surrounded by water, the 'Sunday Nation' reported. The three camps house some 120,000 Somali, Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees. Water levels are still rising, heightening fears of starvation and epidemic, Kenyan television said. According to the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), up to 10 times more rain than normal for October has fallen in the usually-arid northeast. Mandera recorded more rain in October than the entire annual average.

UGANDA: Nearly 30 killed in floods and landslides

Meanwhile, nearly 30 people were killed by landslides and floods due to heavy rains in eastern Uganda. Local officials, quoted by Ugandan radio yesterday (Sunday), said 29 people had lost their lives in the Bulucheke and Bunika areas of Manjiya county in Mbale district. Bridges had been washed away and communications cut. A rescue operation was underway by the Ugandan Red Cross, police and local villagers. The 'New Vision' daily on Saturday reported that western Uganda had also been hit by torrential rain. Hundreds of travellers were stranded along the Fort Portal-Mubende murram road.

Uganda deploying troops on Sudan border

Uganda is deploying additional troops along its border with Sudan, according to the state-owned 'New Vision'. The newspaper reported on Saturday that troops were being sent to the border in a bid to prevent infiltration by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Sudanese officials charged that Uganda was planning an invasion of the south. The daily 'Al-Rai al-Akher' quoted South Sudan Coordination Council chairman Riak Machar and Arok Thon Arok of the pro-government United Democratic Salvation Front as saying the Ugandan army command was shifting from Kampala to Gulu in the north.

SUDAN: Eritrea accused of preventing refugee return

Sudan's commissioner for refugees on Sunday accused Eritrea of refusing to allow the repatriation of Eritrean refugees, AFP reported. Mohamed al-Sheikh Abdul Aal claimed the Asmara authorities were not allowing the return of refugees who had expressed a desire to go home. He added Sudan was willing to take back its own refugees, many of whom are in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, former rebel leader Lam Akol announced on Sunday he had accepted a nomination for governor of Upper Nile state.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UNHCR to resume repatriation from Tanzania

UNHCR announced today (Monday) it would resume the repatriation of DRC refugees from Tanzania in accordance with a tripartite agreement adopted by the three sides in August. In a statement it said its decision had been motivated by the refugees' desire to go home. The announcement follows a visit to Tanzania by DRC's Minister for Reconstruction and Emergency Planning Richard Mbaya for discussions on the issue. DRC television described his talks with Tanzanian officials as very positive. A joint statement issued at the end of the visit stressed commitment to the tripartite agreement signed with UNHCR.

Bank governor says revenue boosted

By centralising collection and simplifying tax legislation, DRC Central Bank Governor Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo says his country has managed to boost revenues significantly. "We have basically doubled our revenue stream to $52 million per month from roughly $25 million by changing the methodology of paying tax and diminishing the temptation to corruption," he told the 'Financial Times' in an interview published on Saturday. The governor stressed that 80 percent of the economy remained in the "informal sector". "It's a very difficult task bringing that 80 percent into the formal market," the paper quoted him as saying.

Kabila visits Namibia to urge investment

President Laurent-Desire Kabila visited Windhoek on Sunday for talks with Namibian leader Sam Nujoma and local businessmen. According to the South African news agency SAPA, Kabila urged investment in his country. He said the DRC was moving towards economic recovery, but reconstruction demanded investment in all areas.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Red Cross volunteer killed by militiamen

A local Red Cross volunteer was shot dead in Brazzaville on Saturday by a group of militiamen who opened fire on his vehicle. Two other people were wounded. An ICRC statement said about 50 volunteers were travelling in a lorry bearing the Red Cross emblem when they came under fire. A spokesman for the organisation said it was not known why the militiamen attacked the Red Cross vehicle.

Lissouba militia given deadline to disarm

The new Congolese authorities have given militiamen loyal to ousted president Pascal Lissouba two weeks to hand in their weapons. Government spokesman Francois Ibovi said on Saturday those who did not comply would be liable to "penalties provided for by laws and regulations". He did not elaborate. He added that pro-government Cobra militiamen and others "who fought Lissouba's genocidal regime" would be incorporated into the armed forces. Ibovi also announced that all foreign diplomats close to the former government would be removed because they were responsible for "disinformation" regarding the new rulers.

TANZANIA: East African military chiefs agree to boost defence ties

Top military chiefs from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania met in Arusha last week for talks on defence-related issues within the East African Cooperation (EAC), the Kenyan 'Daily Nation' reported on Friday. A joint statement described the meeting between General Daudi Tonje of Kenya, General Robert Philemon Mboma of Tanzania and General Mugisha Muntu of Uganda as the first of its kind in the post-independence history of the three countries. The three armed forces leaders proposed increased defence cooperation, joint training and security and coordination of defence-related issues.

GREAT LAKES: Salim suggests discussion on improving relations with UNHCR

OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim has proposed a consultative meeting next year to address strained relations between UNHCR and some governments in the Great Lakes region. Describing the current state of affairs as "unsatisfactory", Salim said the OAU would cooperate with UNHCR to seek "an amicable and acceptable solution." In a statement to a session of the OAU's conflict resolution body last week, Salim said that while UNHCR should be able to implement its mandate to assist refugees, the political and security concerns of countries of asylum and origin "deserve proper consideration." The meeting meanwhile concluded by endorsing Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi's call for a new investigation into the 1994 Rwandan genocide to stop it happening again. In comments to the meeting last week, Meles warned the fallout from the genocide was still "potent and pregnant with disaster".

Primates threatened with extinction, WWF warns

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that war and poaching are threatening the survival of Africa's great apes. In a statement issued in Nairobi, the WWF said the mountain gorilla, living in the war zone between Rwanda, DRC and Uganda, was the primate most immediately threatened, due to deforestation and a collapse of infrastructures. Long-haired chimpanzees in Burundi and Rwanda were also at risk for their meat due to famine and widespread insecurity. The WWF appealed to the international community to act before it was too late.

Nairobi, 24 November 1997, 14:45 gmt


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Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 17:53:11 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 298 97.11.24 Message-ID: <>

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

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