Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 313, 12.15/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 313, 12.15/97

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 Update No. 313 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 13-15 December 1997)

RWANDA: US expert to investigate camp massacre, Kabila wants international probe

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced in Kinshasa on Friday she would send a State Department expert on crimes against humanity, David Shepherd, to investigate last week's massacre of Congolese Tutsi refugees in Rwanda by Hutu rebels, AFP reported. Estimates of the death toll in the Thursday attack on Mudende camp, in the northwestern Gisenyi prefecture, range from the initial count of 271, to a provisional tally of 1,643 released by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Internal Affairs Minister, Mwenze Kongolo. Speaking alongside Albright at the press conference, DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila called for an international investigation into the massacre. "Here, when you kill a killer, an Interahamwe, the international community sets up an investigation," he complained, in reference to the UN probe into alleged human rights abuses in the DRC.

Annan condemns massacre

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the camp slaughter and renewed "the international demand that the security of vulnerable refugees be respected." In a statement on Friday, he said "it is most distressing that after almost four years, prospects for peace, stability and national reconciliation remain dim." UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata also condemned the attack, calling it "barbaric". UNHCR spokeswoman Pamela O'Toole said in Geneva: "Most of the dead and wounded were mutilated by machetes. The attackers were merciless, killing even babies." Army response "complicated" by refugee panic

The Rwandan army commander for the northwest region Colonel Kayumba Nyamwase told AFP the rebels came both from the town of Kanama and the DRC border in "a coordinated attack." He said intervention by the army was "complicated by the panic that swept through the camp" of some 17,000 people. An eyewitness, quoted by the news agency, said the rebels "came at midnight and encircled the camp, armed with rifles, grenades, axes and spears. They put up barriers on the roads, the tracks and all around to prevent the soldiers from coming."

IMF approves US $8 million loan

The IMF on Friday approved an US $8 million dollar loan for Rwanda to support the government's economic programme, AFP reported from Washington. The loan follows a US $12 million credit granted in April, the IMF said in a statement. "The Rwandese authorities have made progress under the 1997 IMF-supported programme in resettling a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons, rehabilitating the economy and nurturing economic recovery," the fund said.

Freed prisoners surrender

Some 470 genocide suspects freed from a jail in central Rwanda during a raid by Hutu rebels have so far surrendered to the authorities, Radio Rwanda said. Around 580 inmates escaped from the jail in Bulinga, Gitarama prefecture, during the 3 December attack. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources report that propaganda leaflets are being circulated by the rebels claiming they control Gisenyi prefecture and intend to "take Gitarama".

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Local leaders demand cash to allow probe to proceed

Local DRC traditional leaders are blocking the UN massacre probe in the northwestern region until they are given cash and supplies, AFP quoted the UN team spokesman Jose Diaz as saying yesterday (Sunday). The demands were made in the town of Wendji, where angry but non-violent protests took place against the UN investigators on Thursday, Diaz said. "The experts believe that these new difficulties rule out any significant work being done before the end of 1997," he added. Another group of UN investigators in Mbandaka, 25 km north of Wendji, were continuing their task unimpeded and continue to record eyewitness accounts, Diaz noted. On Friday, Kabila said in Kinshasa that he was unaware of the Wendji protests and insisted the UN team was "free to work".

Kabila visits China

Kabila arrived in China on Sunday on his first official visit outside Africa since coming to power in May this year. The visit is at the invitation of the Chinese government and would last a "few days", Kinshasa TV announced.

ANGOLA: Albright "disappointed" over Savimbi's no-show

Albright, in Angola on the fifth leg of her African tour, said on Friday she was disappointed that former rebel leader Jonas Savimbi had turned down an invitation to meet her during her visit. "Dr. Savimibi and the UNITA leaders who remain outside Luanda can expect only marginalisation if they do not move swiftly to comply fully with the Lusaka [peace] protocol", Albright warned. Savimbi has consistently refused to go to Luanda on the grounds that his safety is not guaranteed. UNITA radio reported that a message from Savimbi was handed to Albright. The contents of the message were unknown, the station, monitored by the BBC, said. The Secretary of State did however meet with a UNITA delegation which stressed that the planned withdrawal of the UN Observer Mission in Angola in the first quarter of 1998 "would be suicidal" for the peace process.

Savimbi meets UN Special Representative Beye

On Saturday, UN Special Representative Alioune Blondin Beye visited Savimbi in his central highlands base of Andulo to discuss the peace process and deliver a message from dos Santos. According to UNITA radio, Savimbi told Beye that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had failed to recognise any efforts by UNITA to comply with the Lusaka peace agreement.

US committed to Angolan regional role - Albright

In Luanda, Albright held talks with President Eduardo dos Santos and said Washington was committed to helping the country become a major player in the region, AFP reported. At a brief stop in the oil enclave of Cabinda she announced a joint initiative by the US oil company Chevron and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to "support reconstruction and economic development" in Angola. Albright added that Washington is financing a US $20 million loan to the government to buy food. Noting that Angolan oil represents seven percent of US crude imports - worth more than two billion dollars - she said she was "discussing with (the Angolan state oil company) Sonangol and Chevron a US $350 million package to support the purchase of American equipment" by Luanda.

SUDAN-EGYPT: Beshir's planned Cairo visit signals possible rapprochement

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir will travel "soon" to Egypt amid growing signs that Cairo and Khartoum want to improve strained relations, AFP reported yesterday. The Egyptian news agency MENA said Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mustafa Osman Ismail, will be in Cairo "within 48 hours" to prepare the visit. Relations between Cairo and Khartoum deteriorated in 1995 when Egypt accused Sudan of involvement in a failed bid by Egyptian islamists to kill President Hosni Mubarak. Bashir's visit would follow rebel SPLA leader John Garang's trip this month to Cairo, and Albright's meeting last week in Uganda with Garang and other leaders of the Sudan opposition after which she called for the "isolation" of Khartoum.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Lissouba supporters call for boycott of reconciliation forum

Supporters of ousted president Pascal Lissouba have turned down an invitation to a government-organised national reconciliation forum due on 5-11 January. Brazzaville's official Radio Liberte broadcast on Saturday a statement by the opposition Republican Space for Democracy and National Unity (ERDUN) which said the planned forum is being organised by "dictatorial" forces, AFP reported. The statement urged people not to take part in such a "masquerade" and asked the international community to withhold aid and to take steps to "return the legal government" to power. Forum coordinator Sebastien Bowao told Radio Liberte that if ERDUN was convinced of its popular support, it should take part in the forum. According to AFP, the conference is to decide on the nature of multiparty general elections promised by military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso.

UGANDA: Rebels kill eight

Rebels of the Uganda National Rescue Front II (UNRF-II) killed eight people and wounded six others in an ambush on a passenger vehicle on Friday in the northwest Arua region. The state-owned 'New Vision' today (Monday) also quoted senior army officials as saying that several UNRF-II soldiers who survived an ambush last week by the SPLA had surrendered to an army post in Yumbe. The paper said 25 UNRF-II fighters were killed in the SPLA ambush in southern Sudan, out of a column of 150 rebels heading towards the Ugandan border. UNRF-II, headed by Ali Bamuze who served under Idi Amin, is a splinter group of the West Nile Bank Front.

KENYA: Cholera outbreak in Nairobi claims 30 lives

A Kenyan MP has blamed the Nairobi City council for the outbreak of cholera in the capital which has claimed at least 30 lives in the past week, the official 'Kenya Times' reported today. Gerishon Kirima said insanitary condition's in Nairobi's slums had contributed to the outbreak. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that ministry of health officials are touring the two worst-hit areas of Korogocho and Mathare. Meanwhile, the privately-owned 'Daily Nation' said the cholera death toll in the Coast province has risen to 66.

Nairobi, 15 December 1997, 14:15 gmt


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Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 18:03:39 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 313 13-15 Dec 97.12.15 Message-ID: <>

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

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