Central and Eastern Africa: Update 324, 1/2/97

Central and Eastern Africa: Update 324, 1/2/97

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. 324 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 2 January 1998)

BURUNDI: Over 200 die in rebel attack

At least 100 civilians were killed when Hutu rebels were driven off by government troops after a dawn attack on Bujumbura airport, state radio reported yesterday (Thursday). A military spokesman said the rebels had killed indiscriminately as they retreated through the village of Rukaramu, west of the airport. According to the radio's version of events, a large group of insurgents attacked the airport, 10 km from Bujumbura, early Thursday morning. Over 100 rebels and four soldiers were killed in the clash, with the airport suffering only minor damage. However, aid workers in Bujumbura, quoting reliable sources, told IRIN the rebels - at least 1,000-strong - had managed to overrun the army garrison at the airport. In an intense battle in which heavy mortar fire was heard, the rebels were repulsed after the arrival of army reinforcements. Rukaramu was caught in the crossfire as the rebels fled towards the Congolese border, the sources said. According to CNN, the villagers are mostly Hutu.

Airport remains closed

The roads out of Bujumbura to Cibitoke and the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were sealed yesterday. The airport remains closed. An informed humanitarian source, contacted by IRIN, speculated the rebels planned the attack as a show of force ahead of the arrival in Bujumbura next week of Berhanu Dinka, the UN's regional humanitarian advisor for the Great Lakes.

Government says former Rwandan army soldiers joined rebel raid

A defence military spokesman told state radio that uniforms and documents found on the dead rebels proved that some were ex-Rwandan army. "I believe that this morning's attackers represent collaboration between the Burundian genocidal terrorists of the CNDD-Palipehutu and Rwandan militiamen and ex-FAR soldiers. This was quite clear," the spokesman said. He noted that ex-Rwandan army identity cards and regimental insignia had been recovered.

TANZANIA: Mkapa denies support for Burundi rebels

President Benjamin Mkapa has again denied allegations by the Burundi government that Tanzania is assisting anti-Bujumbura rebels, Tanzanian state radio said yesterday. In a New Year's message, Mkapa said the allegations made last week were "rubbish and baseless", the radio reported. He also stressed that Tanzania respected regional sanctions imposed on Burundi last year. He said Tanzanian transporters were not violating the embargo but were carrying exempted humanitarian goods into Burundi.

KENYA: Moi leading election race

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi is certain of re-election, according to results reported today (Friday) by KTN television. The results from 170 of the 210 constituencies gave Moi 39.5 percent of the vote against 32.5 percent for his nearest rival, Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party and a former vice president. Moi had more than 25 percent of the vote in six provinces, overcoming a stipulation that a first-round winner must win a minimum of 25 percent of the vote in at least five of Kenya's eight provinces. In the parliamentary elections, with 182 constituencies counted, the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) was neck-and-neck with the combined opposition, AFP reported.

Opposition vow not to accept Moi win

Four leading opposition parties announced yesterday they would not accept a Moi victory. At a joint press conference, presidential candidates Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party and Raila Odinga of the National Development Party accused the ruling party of rigging, the private 'Daily Nation' reported. The statement was signed by Michael Wamalwa of Ford-Kenya and endorsed by the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of presidential aspirant, Charity Ngilu.

Government warns opposition against "lawlessness"

A government statement broadcast on state radio yesterday said the government would not tolerate "any acts of intimidation or provocation" by those who "ignore the wishes of Kenyans." The statement said that "any lawlessness will be dealt with swiftly."

RWANDA: Kagame warns against civilian collaboration with rebels

Vice President and Minister of Defence Paul Kagame has warned villagers in northwestern Rwanda not to collaborate with Hutu extremists operating in the area, AFP quoted Rwandan state radio as reporting on Thursday. "The first consequence, which you are already suffering, is a lack of food. You're not growing crops, you have nothing left to eat," Kagame said on a visit to Ruhengeri, the scene of heavy fighting between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated army. Referring to charges that the army has carried out reprisals against the civilian population, Kagame admitted that some soldiers had made mistakes, but had been severely punished.

Rebels accused of killing 24

The Rwandan authorities on Wednesday blamed Hutu militiamen for the weekend killing of 12 people in an attack on the town of Nyakabanda, in the central Gitarama prefecture. The victims included two members of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) who were helping to protect the town, news agencies reported. On Christmas Day, rebels killed 12 people - including two former soldiers and their families - in Gitarama's Gitumba Sector.

SUDAN: Khartoum proposes regional reconciliation

The Sudanese government will work towards national reconciliation, normalise relations with Egypt and mend fences with Uganda and Eritrea, President Omar al-Beshir vowed in a New Year's message. Beshir said that an end to Sudan's civil war and the endorsement of a permanent constitution would "guarantee the durability of the national reconciliation," AFP reported. Beshir said he was pleased with "successive and fast developments" in Sudan's relations with Egypt. "What is happening now is a genuine expression of the will of the two leaderships and peoples on the two halves of the (Nile) valley," Beshir said.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Sassou Nguesso wants Lissouba to go on trial

Congolese leader Denis Sassou Nguesso promised on Wednesday that leaders of the ousted regime of Pascal Lissouba would be put on trial for causing 15,000 deaths in five years. In a radio broadcast, monitored in Kinshasa by AFP, Sassou Nguesso said: "Our compatriots implicated in the division of the nation and citizens who endangered the constitution of the state do not deserve the pardon of the people."

Nairobi, 2 January 1998, 14:20 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: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 17:40:36 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: Update 324 for 2 January 98.1.2 Message-ID: <>

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

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