Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 32, 1/5/98

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 32, 1/5/98

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. 325 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 3-5 January 1998)

BURUNDI: Thousands flee airport area

Some 7,000 people have fled the Rukaramu area around Bujumbura airport amid mopping-up operations by the security forces following a rebel attack last week, AFP reported. It quoted army spokesman Colonel Sinarinzi Mamert as saying on Saturday the airport had reopened. The fleeing civilians were said to be seeking protection from military bases at Mpanda and Maramuya. Sinarinzi said the death toll from the attack on New Year's Eve, put at 200 including rebels and civilians, could be much higher. Informed sources, quoted by AFP, said the rebels had retreated to Rukaramu after the attack on the airport and a nearby military camp. Sinarinzi added that many of the rebel attackers, estimated at 1,000, were still hiding out in the area.

Buyoya calls for international condemnation of attack

President Pierre Buyoya yesterday (Sunday) called for world condemnation of the attack. Speaking at the funeral of 80 civilian victims, he said the international community should "renounce its traditional lethargy whenever there are criminal acts attributed to terrorist groups". It was "heartbreaking" to see rebel leaders moving freely in other countries, he said. Buyoya added that bodies from the attack were still being discovered in the bush. France and the OAU have condemned the massacre, with France urging Burundi's neighbours to help it curb the violence.

Finance Minister resigns

Finance Minister Gerard Niyibigira has stepped down due to poor health, Burundi radio reported on Friday. His replacement was named as Astere Girukwigomba.

UGANDA: MPs' visit to Burundi not sanctioned by government

The Ugandan foreign ministry has stressed a recent visit to Burundi by a group of Ugandan parliamentarians was not sanctioned by the authorities and its findings did not reflect government views. A report issued by the MPs accused Sudan and Tanzania of supporting and harbouring rebel movements from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. It also said Tanzania was a major culprit in busting the regional sanctions on Burundi. The allegation was strongly denied by Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa in a New Year address. In its statement, the Ugandan foreign ministry emphasised its "unwavering support" for the Arusha initiative regarding Burundi and the mediation of former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere.

Army chief sacked

President Yoweri Museveni has dismissed Uganda's army commander Major-General Mugisha Muntu, state-run radio reported yesterday. No reasons were given for the sacking. AFP reported local observers as saying Museveni was trying to improve army morale. Former minister of state for defence, Jeje Ogondo, was appointed to replace Muntu.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila reshuffles cabinet

President Laurent-Desire Kabila reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, bringing in former Katanga governor Gaetan Kakudji as Minister of State for Internal Affairs. Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo was moved to the justice portfolio. Pierre-Victor Mpoyo becomes Minister of State for Economy and Petrol. The two state minister posts did not exist in the previous government. Justice Minister Celestin Lwangi was appointed International Cooperation Minister. Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwananga becomes Agriculture Minister, and Tala Ngai comes into the cabinet as the new finance minister. Other changes include Agriculture Minister Paul Bandoma who takes the commerce portfolio and International Cooperation Minister Thomas Kanza who becomes Labour and Social Security Minister. The new cabinet includes three new faces, but no minister was dismissed. DRC radio pointed out the reshuffled team contains two ministers of state, 21 ministers and six deputy ministers.

MSF concerned over situation in Kisangani camp

MSF has expressed concern over the situation at Kapalata camp in Kisangani following a visit there last month. It described the set-up as a closed military re-education camp for Mai-Mai warriors, holding about 4,000 people. Some 300 children were badly malnourished and no medicines were available, MSF said. Other people were suffering from diarrhoea. MSF said it had been granted permission by the local authorities to set up a cholera camp, as cholera and dysentery were rife. Thirty-five people had died, it said. UNICEF, meanwhile, reported a total of 211 deaths from cholera in the town of Kisangani.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: National reconciliation conference due to open

More than 800 representatives of Congo's political parties and civilian society were due to meet in Brazzaville today (Monday) for a national reconciliation meeting. The forum was arranged by new leader General Denis Sassou Nguesso, after some five months of civil war. The meeting is aimed at discussing the framework for a new constitution and reconstruction programme.

Unrest in Pointe Noire

Radio France Internationale reported skirmishes in Congo's second city of Pointe Noire on Friday following a police clampdown on Cobra militia members, which were loyal to Sassou Nguesso during the war. Three militiamen were reported killed. The Cobras are being put on trains back to Brazzaville in keeping with the new authorities' bid to dismantle the militias. Pointe Noire has been experiencing some security problems, RFI said, and Angolan troops are still around maintaining a "reassuring presence". According to the radio, they are guarding the airport and port area.

RWANDA: Ex-FAR officer gunned down

Military sources said a former Rwandan government military officer, Major Modeste Rwabukwisi, was killed by the security forces last Thursday in southwest Cyangugu province. According to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), Rwabukwisi joined Hutu rebels preparing to invade Rwanda from eastern DRC in the wake of the 1994 genocide. He was shot dead in Gafunzo on the shore of Lake Kivu while attempting to flee to DRC. A dozen other militiamen were either killed or captured, the news agency added.

Local rights group slams US release of genocide suspect

A local human rights umbrella group, Collectif des ligues et associations des droits de l'homme (CLADHO), has expressed shock over the release of a genocide suspect in the US, RNA reported. CLADHO chairman Josue Kayijaho said the suspect, Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, was a ringleader in the massacre of over 100,000 people who fled to his church during the genocide seeking sanctuary from the killers. Well-informed sources told RNA there were powerful lobbies in the US which had brought about Ntakirutimana's release.

MSF calls for safe zones

MSF has called for setting up safe zones in northwest Rwanda and the North Kivu area of eastern DRC. In a statement, it said civilians and refugees were trapped in an ongoing war between government forces and armed rebel groups. Humanitarian assistance in Rwanda's Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures and in North Kivu had been reduced to almost zero because of lack of access. MSF urged the international community to acknowledge the state of war in these areas and find secure areas for the population, either by setting up safe havens or selecting a third country for the people.

SUDAN: Eritrea, Uganda accused of planning offensive

Sudan has accused Eritrea and Uganda of planning a two-pronged offensive against Khartoum, AFP reported. First Vice-President Zubair Mohammad Saleh told a daily newspaper at the weekend his country was preparing to counter the offensives, after both Eritrea and Uganda had "concentrated their troops" on the border with Sudan. Another Sudanese daily 'Al-Rai al-Aam' reported that increased security measures had been put in place around the town of Kassala in anticipation of an Eritrean attack.

KENYA: Moi sworn in as president

President Daniel arap Moi was sworn in for another five-year term today, after he was officially declared the winner in presidential polls held on 29 December. The ruling party KANU was also declared to have an absolute majority in parliament. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Moi denied opposition accusations that the elections were rigged. He said the government would have many priorities to tackle.

Nairobi, 5 January 1998, 14:35 gmt


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Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 17:40:02 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 325 for 3-5 Jan 98.1.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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