Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 301, 11/27/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 301, 11/27/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Update No. 301 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 27 November 1997)

RWANDA: Minister tells Tanzanians refugee expulsions "deplorable"

Rwandan Education Minister Joseph Karemera, who led an official team to Tanzania earlier this month for discussions on the expulsion of Rwandan refugees, described the deportations as "deplorable". Rwandan radio recalled that over 1,800 Rwandans - many of whom had been in Tanzania for years - were thrown out by authorities some three months ago. Karemera said he was told by the Tanzanian authorities the intention was to deport "troublemakers" but the order was incorrectly implemented at local level. According to the radio, the minister stressed relations with Tanzania were "as a rule, marked by excellent mutual understanding". "I do not see why such incidents should happen again," he stated. A meeting was planned for 3 December between the two countries' defence and interior ministers to try and resolve the problem.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Refugees due home from Tanzania on Friday

Six hundred DRC refugees are due to leave the western Tanzanian port of Kigoma today (Thursday) at the start of a resumed repatriation operation. They should arrive in Uvira tomorrow (Friday). Over 40,000 refugees have registered to return home, according to UNHCR Tanzania. The repatriation exercise was put on hold in September after UNHCR expressed concerns over security in eastern DRC. Humanitarian sources described the current situation in Uvira as calm with shops and businesses reopening and more goods available in the markets.

UN mission meets Kabila

The UN mission investigating alleged human rights abuses met President Laurent-Desire Kabila today. Mission spokesman Jose Diaz told Reuters Kabila had assured investigators of the government's full cooperation, and they were now waiting to hear from the UN in New York. After over two months of wrangling, the DRC authorities yesterday gave the team the go-ahead to go "where they want". UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said yesterday the world body was hopeful this would be the "final okay" to get into the field. However, some "logistical matters" remained unresolved, he added.

Albright to visit region next month

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due to arrive in Kinshasa on 12 December as part of a tour of Africa. The one-week tour from 9-15 December will take in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe. A State Department spokesman said the trip would focus on "advancing US interests in the Great Lakes region, justice and the rule of law, stability and economic opportunity".

Army counter-insurgency body created

A counter-insurgency body has been set up within the DRC army, DRC radio, broadcasting from Bukavu, reported. Speaking over the radio, a South Kivu military commander stressed the new body - known as the Detection Militaire des Anti-Patrie (DEMIAP) - would only concern itself with the army. "It has nothing to do with the civilian population, the arrest of civilians or confiscation of property," he said.

Army chief reportedly arrested over disagreements with Kabila

Radio France Internationale said an official of the security service had confirmed the arrest on Wednesday of acting army chief-of-staff Major Masasu Nindaga. It said his office was surrounded by hundreds of soldiers and all cellular phones of his close friends had been confiscated. The radio pointed out no reasons had been given for the arrest of Masasu, who was reportedly very close to Kabila during the liberation war and also vice-president of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL).

Senior political analysts told IRIN Masasu, 28, was arrested after reportedly falling out with Kabila over the handling of the Mai-Mai rebellion in eastern DRC. They say his arrest and incarceration could "have grave consequences for the future of the alliance". His detention follows the reported sidelining of ADFL Secretary-General Deogratias Bugera, a founding member of the Banyamulenge-led Democratic Alliance of the People (ADP) and in the days immediately after the defeat of former president Mobutu Sese Seko, the second most influential man in the country. Masasu, whose Rwandan Tutsi mother fled the pogroms of the late-1950s, joined the Rwandan Patriotic Army in 1993 before becoming a frontline commander in the fight to overthrow Mobutu. His father, a leading member of the Bashi ethnic grouping, is an influential figure in the region around Uvira.

Kabila pledges cooperation with neighbours

President Kabila pledged cooperation with other regional partners, stressing DRC would "never enter into conflict with its neighbours". DRC radio in Bunia, citing a press release, today said Kabila affirmed his country would promote development in central and southern Africa. He spoke of exploiting oil deposits in Lake Albert and Lake Edward on the Ugandan border and constructing a railway linking the Great Lakes region. The projects would be financed by credit lines from Namibia, Kabila said.

UGANDA: Babies reportedly killed by rebels

At least 14 people were massacred by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army near the northern Ugandan town of Gulu yesterday, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported today. It quoted army commander Brigadier James Kazini as saying the incident occurred at dawn near the river Ayugi in Pabo. Seven of the victims reportedly were babies aged under one. Most of the victims were hacked to death and their bodies strewn along the roads, the newspaper added.

KENYA: World Bank releases funds to combat water hyacinth

Nearly 3,000 hectares of Lake Victoria, the largest fresh water reservoir in Africa, is covered with the water hyacinth weed which poses a severe threat to fisheries and lake transportation. The World Bank has set aside US$ 77 million for the first phase of a five-year programme for research into the lake involving Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, PANA news agency reported. The money would be used for researching fisheries, water quality, management of the wetlands and the environment. The lake is essential for east Africans who are dependent on its waters for their livelihood.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Clean water restored to parts of capital

Clean water supplies were restored to parts of Brazzaville yesterday, official Radio Liberte reported, according to AFP. The city had been without clean water since the civil war broke out in June. The radio also said civil servants were paid their October salaries, although banks have not reopened.

ANGOLA: Government inquiry into prison deaths

The Angolan government has launched an inquiry into the deaths of 10 UNITA prisoners at a jail in the central town of Malanje, Portuguese radio reported. The Angolan embassy in Lisbon was quoted as saying the perpetrators would be punished. The dead inmates are believed to have suffocated in overcrowded conditions. UNITA radio yesterday (Wednesday) accused the government of "torturing and massacring" UNITA sympathisers in territory newly administered by the authorities.

SUDAN: Garang says SPLM does not oppose Islam

Sudanese rebel leader John Garang has stressed his Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is not hostile to Islam, neither is it separatist. In an interview with the Egyptian news agency MENA, Garang who is visiting Cairo, said the SPLM was trying to unify Sudan on the basis of justice to accommodate all ethnicities and religion. His visit to Cairo, he added, was aimed at briefing Egyptian officials on developments in Sudan. He blamed the failure of the recent Nairobi peace talks on the Sudanese government, claiming the government delegation had "insisted on its views".

GREAT LAKES: Economic growth rate revised down by IMF

Drought and civil war have forced the IMF to revise down its 1997 projected real GDP growth rate for African economies from 4.5 percent to 3.75 percent. In the Great Lakes region, only Uganda is expected to turn in a robust GDP growth of more than five percent. The IMF's recently released 'World Economic Outlook' says the revision of Africa's growth rate is partly attributable to the political turmoil in DRC and Congo-Brazzaville. UNCTAD, in its 1997 report on 'Least Developed Countries', highlights the issue of "social and economic regress" that has afflicted several countries in the Great Lakes over the past decade. The report stresses that lessons need to be drawn from the analysis of development retardation and the "international community cannot afford to ignore the problems of regress." UNCTAD points out Uganda is an example that regress can be reversed even after prolonged civil war. The UN agency calls for external assistance in brokering peace and supporting reconstruction.


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Nairobi, 27 November 1997, 14:40 gmt


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Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 17:49:00 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 301 97.11.27 Message-ID: <>

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

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