Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 303, 12/1/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 303, 12/1/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Update No. 303 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 29 November-1 December 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kinshasa calm, but situation remains confused

Calm returned to Kinshasa on Friday evening after heavy shooting rocked the DRC capital earlier in the day and overnight Thursday. Residents described the situation as tense and confused. The government announced it was in "complete control" and blamed Thursday night's outbreak of shooting around Kokolo barracks on a "misunderstanding" between two groups of soldiers. Congolese television reported that a group of soldiers on patrol had opened fire on a group not on patrol and then "refused to heed orders given to it to stop". The authorities said three soldiers were killed and two others injured and said all the unruly troops had been arrested.

Interior Ministry blames "bandits" for city centre shoot-out

In a separate statement also broadcast on Congolese television, the Ministry of Interior said "bandits" were responsible for the shooting which erupted in the centre of the city on Friday afternoon. The statement said the bandits in two jeeps had fired into the air near the Intercontinental Hotel and Tshatsi military camp, believed to be the main base for Tutsi soldiers serving in the Congolese armed forces. DRC troops guarding the Presidential Palace responded in kind and the firing spread to outside the Central Bank and Interior Ministry. The statement said the bandits "would be apprehended shortly" and urged people to go about their normal business because the situation "is calm in the country". It said the government was "keeping an eye on all troublemakers". Some residents, however, said the incident followed a dispute between Tutsi soldiers and members of the national police force and said between six and eight people were believed killed in the shoot-out.

Government details charges against Masasu

The 'New York Times' reported from Kinshasa that as many as 18 people may have been killed in the clashes and said the most likely cause of the tension was last Wednesday's arrest of acting DRC army chief Commander Masasu Nindaga, previously one of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's closest allies in the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL). Aid workers in the field reported that many young Banyamulenge Tutsi recruits were dismayed by his detention and said there were unconfirmed reports of desertions.

The government defended its move and said Masasu had been arrested on the grounds of "military discipline" and notably "for the expropriation of property of others, (and) the creation of a tribal militia." A statement, issued by Kabila's office on Saturday, also accused Masasu of creating a private prison for "arbitrary arrests", liasing with foreign intelligence services, collaborating with the country's enemies, including the hardline Interahamwe Hutu militia, and "creating division within the army and the regular consumption of Indian hemp." International and local media, meanwhile, reported Masasu had been transferred from Kinshasa to Katanga, Kabila's stronghold in an attempt to reduce tensions in the capital and ADFL Secretary-General Deogratias Bugera, who last week expressed regret over Masasu's detention, issued a plea for unity and peace without which, he said, no reconstruction could take place.

Angered by foreign reporting of recent events in the country, the DRC government yesterday (Sunday) banned relays of foreign radio stations by local stations on the FM band. Information Minister Raphael Ghenda said the measure had been taken because foreign radio correspondents had indulged in a disinformation campaign against the country and "systematically altered all facts" surrounding events taking place in DRC. Reuters reported today that the FM transmissions of Radio France Internationale (RFI), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Voice of America (VOA) had all fallen silent.

Troops confiscate food trucks in eastern DRC

Several aid agencies have complained to the local authorities after two trucks carrying food for internally-displaced people were stopped in Rutshuru last Monday and confiscated by DRC troops. A spokesman for World Vision said the two trucks, one belonging to his NGO and the other to WFP, were still in the hands of the army along with the key to a warehouse containing some 84 mt of food aid and 1,979 resettlement kits. "It's a mess," he said, adding radios and handsets had also been confiscated.

Opposition leader accepts post in Kabila government

Frederic Kibassa Maliba has finally agreed to join the government, DRC radio reported. Kabila offered Kibassa Maliba, who recently distanced himself from veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the post of deputy minister of mines last week, but he did not immediately accept.

Paris demands recall of DRC diplomat in tit-for-tat exchange

France on Monday requested the recall of DRC diplomat Yeye Lobota by the end of the week, retaliating after the number two at the French embassy in Kinshasa, Eric Lubin, was declared persona non grata, French officials announced. Yeye is first counsellor at the DRC embassy in Paris. France previously said it "deplored the decision" to expel Lubin, who returned to France on Sunday morning, after being accused in the Kinshasa press of espionage.

UN mission delayed again

The departure into the field of the UN human rights investigative mission to DRC has been delayed again. Mission spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN a scouting team, which was supposed to leave for Mbandaka on Saturday, did not leave as planned as the government official who is supposed to accompany them has not yet been designated. He said mission leaders were meeting with government liaison officers today and "hoped to leave on Wednesday".

RWANDA: Genocide survivors protest early releases

Survivors of the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus by hardline elements in the Hutu-dominated army and militia forces have protested against the release of elderly, sick and child prisoners being held for their alleged part in the massacres, government radio reported at the weekend. The demonstration was the second in a week in the southwest district of Gikongoro. A similar protest on November 21 succeeded in having the released prisoners reincarcerated. According to AFP, a Rwandan newspaper today reported the Rwandan authorities had freed 2,129 prisoners since September, when they launched the policy to release very young, sick or elderly detainees. The 'Ukuri' (Truth) newspaper said that those freed were among 121,571 held in jails and makeshift prisons.

Kagame aide Dusaidi dies in South Africa

Claude Dusaidi, senior adviser and spokesman for Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame, has died following complications during a kidney operation, Reuters reported. The agency quoted a Rwandan government official as saying that Dusaidi died on Friday at a Johannesburg hospital during an operation to rectify a kidney ailment.

EAST AFRICA: Floods kill four more in Kenya

Four more people have been killed in floods in Garissa in Kenya's north-east province, taking the country's death toll as a result of the current torrential rains to 10, Kenyan KTN television reported on Sunday. It added that some 1,600 houses had been submerged or swept away in the area.

Meanwhile, Uganda's daily 'New Vision' newspaper reported an estimated 1,000 people had been made homeless in Bundibugyo district after two major rivers, the Mpanga and the Muguzi, burst their banks. It also reported about 7,000 people were cut off in the Kanumba and Kabuga parishes of Karusandara subcounty after a bridge was swept away by heavy rain in Kasese district.

TANZANIA: Two killed in hand grenade attack

At least two people were killed when a hand grenade exploded along a river bank in northwestern Tanzania early this week, the Kiswahili newspaper 'Uhuru' reported on Friday, according to AFP. The daily quoted Kagera Regional Police Commander Juma Ng'wanamwaka as saying the grenades went off on the banks of River Mwiluzi in Ngara district, killing the two, who were fishing on the river bank.

Cholera kills 105 in central Tanzania since June

Tanzanian radio reported from Dodoma that a total of 105 people out of 1,525 who contracted cholera in the central region of the country had died since June this year.

ZAMBIA-ANGOLA: Zambian government denies any involvment with UNITA

The Zambian government has denied Angolan government accusations of supplying arms to former UNITA rebels in Angola and has said it is committed to the full implementation of the Lusaka Protocol of November 1994, AFP reported on Sunday. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Shimba said in a statement that the Zambian government would not do anything to sabotage the protocol because the war in Angola has never been in the interests of Zambia. Meanwhile, Angolan television reported six UNITA soldiers and one police officer were killed after the UNITA men attacked a police convoy near Cutende in Huila province last week in an attempt to capture more weapons.

HUMAN RIGHTS: Mary Robinson to visit Rwanda and South Africa

Mary Robinson, the new UN special envoy for human rights, will visit Rwanda and South Africa later this week on her first visit to Africa since being appointed, a spokesman announced in Geneva. John Mills said Robinson would arrive in Kigali on Thursday and stay until Saturday. Details of her visit to South Africa will be announced later, he added.


IRIN-CEA's fortnightly information exchange on current events in the region will take place at IRIN's offices at 09.00 am on Wednesday 3 December. A number of agencies have agreed to brief the meeting.

Nairobi, 1 December 1997 15:00 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 or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, 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 Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 18:24:22 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 303 97.12.1 Message-ID: <>

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

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