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IRIN Update No. 340 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 24-26 January 1998)
RWANDA: 12 killed in weekend violence
More violence in northwest Rwanda over the weekend claimed 12 lives, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Major Augustin Gashayija told the agency clashes broke out after 300-400 rebels launched an attack on Kinigi commune in Ruhengeri prefecture on Saturday morning. Two rebels, two soldiers and eight civilians were killed. The militiamen were reportedly armed with guns, grenades and traditional weapons. Gashayija indicated that the casualty toll among the rebels could be much higher.
Ngeze attempts suicide
Genocide suspect, Hassan Ngeze, standing trial in Arusha, tried to commit suicide on Saturday, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced today. Ngeze, a former editor of the extremist Hutu publication 'Kangura', is being held at the ICTR's detention facilities and was found lying unconscious on the bed in his cell during a routine patrol. After urgent medical treatment, he regained consciousness and is reported to be in a stable condition. He admitted to swallowing a mixture of chemical agents, including detergent given to detainees to clean their own quarters. The Tribunal has taken immediate steps to further strengthen precautionary measures in the cells.
Kagame suggests ways to curb prison overcrowding
Vice-President Paul Kagame has proposed measures to solve the problem of overcrowding in Rwanda's jails. Addressing the Rwandan community in Brussels last week, he noted the government was spending US $20 million per year to accommodate over 100,000 genocide suspects in the prisons. "We cannot continue to shoulder this burden and organisations assisting us are getting weary," he said. Kagame suggested putting on trial and executing the "masterminds". Second category criminals should be sentenced to "public work" and other criminals should be handed to "traditional courts" which would deal with the cases. Kagame added that these proposals would be submitted to a referendum, but did not say when it would be held.
Elsewhere during the visit, Kagame acknowledged there was collaboration between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in tackling rebel insurgencies on the border between the two countries. He said the collaboration was working well, although "there is still a bit of a problem on the other side".
DRC refugees evacuated from Gisenyi
UNHCR last Thursday evacuated 164 Congolese Tutsi refugees by air from Gisenyi to Kigali because of continuing insecurity in the region. Many of them had been in Gisenyi hospital, recuperating from wounds sustained in the December rebel attack on Mudende refugee camp. The refugees were then trucked on to the Gihembe camp in Bymuba, northeast Rwanda.
Dam under construction to save lake
The Rwandan government is constructing a dam on Lake Muhazi in the east of the country to prevent it from drying up and causing environmental damage, RNA reported. Experts estimate that since 1970, the water level has been rapidly decreasing because the lake, which covers some 38,000 sq km, was being used to irrigate rice and sugar projects on the outskirts of Kigali. The dam project is being carried out with help from China at a cost of some US $330,000.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Repatriation of Rwandans suspended
UNHCR has suspended its repatriation of Rwandans from Congo because it has received no requests for voluntary return, according to a spokeswoman quoted by AFP. There are an estimated 15,000 Rwandans in northern and central Congo. An EU official in charge of humanitarian aid told AFP: "The refugees do not want to go back to their country. They want the Congolese authorities to allow them to farm (in Congo)."
BURUNDI: Regional meeting slated for Kampala
Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama has announced that a regional foreign ministers' meeting on Burundi will be held in Kampala next month, according to Tanzanian radio. Speaking in Arusha where he attended an international seminar on conflict resolution, Rukingama said mediator Julius Nyerere would also take part in the Kampala meeting. Meanwhile, internal talks between different sides in the Burundi conflict are due to commence in Gitega on Wednesday. US special envoy Howard Wolpe is expected to attend the meeting between the government, opposition parties and special interest groups. A senior Burundi official, quoted by the 'EastAfrican' weekly today (Monday) said: "(President) Buyoya seems determined to capitalise on the embarrassment caused to Dar es Salaam by revelations by Human Rights Watch that Tanzania has been supplying South African arms to rebel groups based in the country."
In Arusha, Nyerere said the Burundi government was obstructing the peace process. In a closing speech to the conflict resolution meeting on Friday, he claimed he was being used as a scapegoat by the Burundi authorities who have accused him of bias. "It is difficult to openly speak of peace in Burundi. One is accused of treason," Nyerere added.
TANZANIA: Hundreds in urgent need of assistance
Hundreds of people in northwest Tanzania are in urgent need of food and shelter after floods swept away their homes and destroyed crops, Tanzanian radio, monitored by the BBC, reported. It quoted Kagera regional commissioner Mohammad Babu as saying Misenyi area in Bukoba district was worst-hit. A total of 752 houses in 22 villages had been swept away and some 5,000 families rendered homeless. Over 9,000 ha of food crops and about 900 km of roads had been destroyed.
KENYA: 50 reported killed by cattle raiders
A total of 50 people have been killed in continuing violence attributed by the government to cattle raiders in central Laikipia district. However, the opposition and church leaders accuse the government of not doing enough to stop the killings, which have been going on for about two weeks. The 'Daily Nation' today wrote that foreign missions had visited the area and expressed concern over the situation.
Meanwhile, flood damage in Kenya has been estimated at 8 billion shillings, Kenyan television reported. A government official said reconstruction would take more than three years.
UGANDA: World Bank to focus more on Africa
African leaders, who met World Bank officials in Kampala last week, stressed the need to bring about economic prosperity through structural transformation of African economies. World Bank president James Wolfensohn told reporters after the two-day meeting that the Bank would focus more on Africa, although he told African countries to "take responsibility for their own mistakes". African leaders urged the World Bank to support a series of measures including credit support and infrastructral and human development. Reuters said however there was little sign of concrete agreement at the summit which grouped Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Uganda, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Opposition figure jailed
An academic, close to opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, was jailed for two years for "propagating false rumours", DRC television reported. Professor Kalele Kabila along with journalist Jean-Francois Kabanda stood trial on Friday. Kabanda was accused of publishing "seditious documents" signed by Kalele in his capacity as exective secretary of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). The UDPS described the sentences as "confirmation of the sham legal proceedings which were organised".
ANGOLA: 10 people said dying daily in camp
Malaria, yellow fever and diarrhoea are killing 10 people a day in the Boa Esperanca camp, some 50 km north of Luanda, camp officials said on Friday, according to AFP. The camp houses some 35,000 people displaced by fighting from their homes in the northern Bengo province. The camp reportedly lacks drinking water and the displaced people have to make do with the muddy waters of nearby River Dande.
Nairobi, 26 January 1998, 14:45 gmt
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Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 17:51:43 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 340 for 24-26 Jan 98.1.26 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980126174744.6443Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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