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IRIN Update No. 305 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 3 December 1997)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: France to consider aid to Kinshasa
French foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said Paris held "no prejudice" against the DRC and would be "attentive" to Kinshasa's request for aid under the umbrella of a reconstruction plan it will present to donors today (Wednesday) at a two day "friends of the Democratic Republic of Congo" conference. DRC government spokesman Rapheal Ghenda said on state radio on Tuesday (yesterday) that President Laurent-Desire Kabila has linked the DRC's continued membership of the Francophone community to French support for Kinshasa's reconstruction proposals.
Oxfam calls for coordinated donor strategy
AFP reported that Kinshasa has costed its reconstruction plan at $1.29 billion, including $728 million hoped for from donors. In a press release Oxfam said the World Bank-initiated conference was an opportunity for donor governments and multilateral organisations to develop a "more coherent" and "multifaceted strategy" towards DRC to support reconstruction and encourage progress on human rights. Human Rights Watch, however, has urged donor nations to carefully link aid to an "ongoing evaluation" of human rights and democratisation criteria in the DRC.
South Kivu governor warns against threatened strike
In a communique warning against a threatened strike today in Bukavu, the interim governor of South Kivu said that "security measures" had been put in place to "deal with anyone who interferes with normal working duties."The communique, broadcast by Bukavu radio, follows the circulation of leaflets in Kiswahili in the town calling for a "dead day". According to humanitarian sources, the leaflets were signed by an unknown group of soldiers and threatened reprisals for businesses that ignored the strike.The sources said the "dead day" is being interpreted as protest action over the arrest of acting army commander Masasu Nindaga.
First phase of child soldiers demobilisation implemented
The first phase of a UNICEF-funded child soldier demobilisation programme in Bukavu has been completed. The project aims to reintegrate into civilian life 110 children who fought with the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL). Under the first phase, the children were placed in a centre run by the local authorities where they were provided with counselling. The second phase, to last six months, plans to reintegrate children into their families or among guardians. According to a study of the demobilised children, their main motives for joining the programme were poverty, peer pressure, and financial expectations after reintegration.Over 70 percent of the children are between 15 and 17 years old. Only 50 percent have attended primary school.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Police begin militia disarmament operation Congolese riot police deployed on the streets of Brazzaville on Tuesday to disarm private militias and locate and return looted vehicles to their owners. The government's Radio Liberte, monitored in Kinshasa by AFP, did not indicate how long the operation would last. The deployment follows the expiry of an ultimatum issued three-weeks-ago by military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso which ordered his Cobra militia back to barracks and demanded that the defeated forces of former president Pascal Lissouba and former Brazzaville mayor Bernard Kolelas turn in their weapons. According to AFP, some of these militia fighters have retreated into the forests and villages of southern Congo-Brazzaville.
Repatriation from DRC set to begin The voluntary repatriation of over 30,000 Congolese refugees from Kinshasa is set to start on Monday under a tripartite agreement with UNHCR, DRC and Congo-Brazzaville authorities. More than half the refugees are in Kinkole camp, 30 km from Kinshasa.
WFP says security conditions remain "precarious"
According to WFP, security conditions in Brazzaville remain precarious, hampering humanitarian assistance. A "large part" of the population who returned to Brazzaville are still concentrated on the outskirts of the city due to the instability. Many of the returnees are southerners whose homes were destroyed in the four-month civil war and are being housed in public buildings. The UN agency says it is distributing food to 20,000 vulnerable people in Brazzaville. Two Red Cross workers died last month in attacks by gunmen.
RWANDA: Hutu rebels free prisoners in jail raid
Hutu rebels attacked a jail and freed 103 prisoners in Rwanda's northwest Gisenyi prefecture on Tuesday. Two people were also killed and seven abducted in the dawn raid on the village of Rwerere in which a health centre was sacked. According to the privately-owned Rwanda News Agency, the same rebel group attacked the neighbouring village of Mutura the previous night and killed 10 people, all members of the family of a local official.Survivors told Rwandan radio that some of the local population had sided with the rebels and feared army reprisals. The Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures are at the centre of intensified conflict between Hutu rebels and the army. A government spokesman told IRIN that the aim of the insurgency is the control of the two prefectures - the traditional home of Hutu nationalism - as a precursor to negotiations over power sharing with the authorities in Kigali. Amnesty for genocidaires would be one of the preconditions for a peace deal. Rejecting talks, he added that the rebel message at the village level "is the old ideology of Tutsis as foreigners who must be sent into exile or die."
BURUNDI: Ugandan parliamentary to study peace process
A six-person Ugandan parliamentary delegation is visiting Burundi to study ways of relaunching the central African country's peace process. The regional weekly newspaper 'The East African' said on Monday the lawmakers' visit was "private" but that their conclusions would be passed on to the regional heads of state and former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, the main mediator in the Burundian crisis. The delegation, led by Elly Karuhanga, president of the Ugandan parliament's foreign affairs committee, is expected to meet Burundian leader Major Pierre Buyoya, and former president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.
ANGOLA: UN accuses UNITA of relaying mines
The UN mission in Angola (UNOMA) yesterday accused the former rebel UNITA movement of relaying mines on main highways which had previously been cleared by the UN and humanitarian organisations. It warned that such actions could deter donor countries preparing to help fund demining operations and projects to rebuild Angola, AFP said. A report from the commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Angola, Zimbabwean General Philip Sibanda, said the general situation had eased in some areas but worsened in others, particularly in the north and northeast.
UNITA has meanwhile accused the Angolan government of seizing several UNITA-controlled towns in the diamond fields of the northeast, while Luanda said UNITA troops had massacred at least 39 people in incidents last month in the diamond province of Lunda Norte, AFP reported. The government also said it had captured 10 UNITA soldiers as they prepared to attack an army unit at Malanje in the north.
GREAT LAKES: Ambassador Wolpe appointed US special envoy
Ambassador Howard Wolpe has been appointed US special envoy to the Great lakes and will accompany Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on a visit to Kinshasa next week. The former congressman served as the US president's special envoy to Burundi. His new appointment is linked to the upcoming retirement of ambassador Richard Bogosian, the State Department's Special Coordinator for Rwanda and Burundi.
Nairobi, 3 December 1997, 15.00 gmt
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Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 18:38:17 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 305 97.12.3 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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