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IRIN Update No. 328 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 8 January 1998)
BURUNDI: Bujumbura residents urged to stay calm
The authorities in Burundi have urged residents of Bujumbura not to panic following a wave of rebel attacks near the city. Defence ministry spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isaie Nibizi, speaking on Burundi radio, said residents should remain vigilant, but said the security forces were able to protect them. "The city is very well guarded," he said. In addition, the suburbs were being patrolled. According to the radio, he expressed the belief that the rebels were on a campaign to spread confusion and the population should not play into their hands. The radio added a total of 15 rebels were killed and three soldiers wounded in Tuesday's attack on Maramvya village, days after a massacre in nearby Rukaramu left at least 200 people dead. Hundreds of villagers, who fled Maramvya for the northern suburb of Kinama, were transferred to Mubone village where they were under the protection of the security forces, Burundi's Netpress news agency said. The authorities were afraid that rebels would infiltrate the displaced people in Kinama, formerly a Hutu rebel stronghold, in order to attack Bujumbura.
Thousands in need of assistance
The administrator of Mutimbuzi commune near Bujumbura has said thousands of people are in urgent need of assistance after fleeing rebel attacks. In an interview with AFP, Jean Baptiste Gatabaruke described their situation as "catastrophic", saying there was not enough help for them. UNHCR said the attacks had caused some 8,000 people to flee their homes. Gatabaruke estimated the numbers at "nearly 15,000".
Ogata condemns violence
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata yesterday (Wednesday) condemned the escalating violence in Burundi, saying the attacks were aimed at destabilising areas where thousands of people had returned and were trying to restart their lives. "The current cycle of violence severely jeopardises returnees' security and the refugees' ability to return," she said in a statement. A humanitarian assessment team was unable to reach Maramvya yesterday, but met several wounded villagers along the road.
CNDD calls for international probe
The rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD), held responsible for the killings by the Burundi authorities, yesterday called for an international enquiry to "determine the responsibilities of the army and thus clear the fighters of the FDD (Forces pour la defense de la democratie) of the unspeakable slander directed against them." AFP quoted CNDD's leader Leonard Nyangoma as saying the probe should be approved by both sides in the Burundi conflict.
Foreign minister hails OAU visit
Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama has described the arrival of an OAU delegation in Bujumbura as important. The mission is aimed at resolving the problems between Burundi and Tanzania, and its members are also due to visit other parts of the country. Speaking on Burundi radio, Rukingama said the team would return to Addis Ababa "not with mere rumours, but with first-hand information which cannot fail to have a positive impact on the OAU's perception of Burundi".
RWANDA: 52 reported dead in rebel attack
The death toll in Tuesday's rebel attack in the central town of Nyakabanda has gone up to 52, the Rwanda News Agency reported today (Thursday). Most of the victims were said to be administrative officers and civilians, including seven children. The death toll had previously been put at 26. RNA added that fighting between rebels and the armed forces continued Tuesday night. It said there had been "many" attackers.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Cabinet sworn in
President Laurent-Desire Kabila's cabinet was sworn in yesterday after some ministers returned illegally-acquired property, in keeping with a deadline set by the president. Reuters quoted presidency sources as saying at least 10 ministers were obliged to move house prior to the ceremony to comply with Kabila's ultimatum. Others had to hand back cars, taken after the overthrow of ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko.
Gecamines terminates international tender
DRC's state mining company Gecamines announced last week it had terminated an international tender awarded to the America Mineral Fields Inc. (AMF) by the-then rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. The tender, for mining a huge copper-cobalt project at the Kolwezi mine in Katanga province, was ended because Gecamines said it had expected substantial up-front payments. Analysts, quoted by Reuters, said one of the reasons for the move was a desire for additional funds. "What appears to have happened is that the government has reopened tenders because it hopes to get a better deal," one analyst said. Many international companies had rushed to secure deals with Kabila's rebels during the civil war last year.
Soldiers ransack offices of another publication
Soldiers have occupied the premises of 'Le Moniteur de l'economie' and taken away equipment, the magazine said in statement yesterday. According to AFP, the business magazine, recalling a similar ransacking last month of the 'Elima' newspaper premises, said: "Arbitrary acts of the sort we are deploring, seriously threaten freedom of the press, the foundation of democracy."
Zambian delegation visiting
A Zambian delegation, led by Defence Minister Chitalu Sampa, arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday for talks aimed at boosting relations between the two countries. DRC television quoted Sampa as saying his government hoped to resolve amicably any problems. One of the issues to be resolved, he said, includes hundreds of ex-FAZ soldiers who took refuge in Zambia. DRC State Minister for the Interior Gaetan Kakudji said relations would be strengthened in the fields of security and cross-border trade.
SUDAN: Pro-government southern factions unite forces
Pro-government factions in southern Sudan, members of the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF), have agreed to unite their forces within the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF). According to Suna news agency, former rebel leader Riak Machar, who was charged with forming a committee to oversee the unification of the forces, said the move would boost the peace process by "activating the military aspect of the Khartoum peace agreement".
KENYA: Union tells government to reinstate nurses
The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) yesterday gave the government three days to rescind its decision to sack striking state nurses and to begin talks on the issue, Kenyan television reported. The organisation's deputy secretary-general, Boniface Munyao, said COTU was ready to mediate between the two sides, and would negotiate on behalf of the nurses. Some 30,000 nurses were laid off as a result of the government measure.
ANGOLA: Russia planning arms sales, newspaper says
Russia is planning to resume arms sales to Angola, according to the South African 'Star' daily. It cited a Russian newspaper as saying Angola was looking to buy modern weapons and superfluous Russian army property. Angola had apparently held talks with Russia about replenishing and repairing its fleet of MiG-23 planes, which numbered 55 in the late 1980s. Russia was a major arms supplier to Angola during its war against UNITA rebel forces.
Angola pledges military cooperation with Congo
Angola meanwhile said it would cooperate militarily with Congo-Brazzaville. Reuters quoted Angolan army spokesman Brigadier Jose Manuel Jota as saying Angola's armed forces were already supporting the Congolese "but we now have an official training programme". Congo's military chief General Yves Motando-Mongo is due to return home today from visiting Angolan military bases. Jota admitted there were still Angolan troops in Congo, but could not say how many. Angolan forces helped Congolese leader Denis Sassou Nguesso in the country's recent civil war.
UN troops to go
Most UN troops are due to be pulled out of Angola by the end of this month. The troops had been overseeing a 1994 peace accord between the government and the ex-rebel UNITA movement. Reuters quoted UN spokesman in Luanda, Moktar Gueye, as saying the intention was to leave 500 soldiers in Angola for the protection of UN staff working in the country.
Nairobi, 8 January 1998, 13:55 gmt
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Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 16:54:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 328 for 8 Jan 98.1.8 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980108165216.6159Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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