Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 343 for 29 Jan 98.1.29

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 343 for 29 Jan 98.1.29

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IRIN Update No. 343 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 29 January 1998)

BURUNDI: Four-day mourning period for minister's death

The Burundi authorities have declared a four-day mourning period following the death of Defence Minister Firmin Sinzoyiheba in a helicopter crash yesterday (Wednesday). In a statement broadcast by Burundi radio, Prime Minister Pascal-Firmin Ndimira said investigations into the accident, caused by bad weather, were underway. He urged Burundians to remain calm and called on the security forces to remain vigilant "so that the enemy does not take advantage". Sinzoyiheba was on his way to a reconciliation meeting in Gitega when the helicopter crashed in the Gihinga mountains. As a result, the meeting aimed at bringing together various sides in the Burundi conflict, was postponed for two weeks. Burundi radio said four other people on board the helicopter also perished.

RWANDA: Japanese envoy criticised

The Rwandan government yesterday criticised a statement by the Japanese ambassador in Kigali calling for negotiations with rebels in the northwest of the country. According to Rwandan radio, the government said in a statement that the rebels' agenda was to continue the genocide of 1994. "The government of Rwanda will unceasingly strive to bring them to account for the criminal deeds," the statement added, saying the ambassador should have supported such a move rather than calling for talks.

Death sentences must be executed: prosecutor-general

Prosecutor-General Simeon Rwagasore has said that in the context of Rwanda, death sentences must be carried out "so that Rwandans understand the life of a person cannot be trampled on". "Killers have been pardoned throughout Rwanda's history," he said, in an interview with AFP. "Social and political conflicts have been settled using machetes and this has to change. One can always debate using the death penalty to serve as an example, but Rwanda is a unique case." According to AFP, quoting official figures, 108 people have so far been condemned to death at ongoing genocide trials in Rwanda. They have the right of appeal, but official sources told AFP it was likely some death sentences would be carried out in the near future.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: MSF urges action over Kapalata camp

MSF has called for urgent action to deal with a cholera outbreak in the Kapalata camp near Kisangani. It said an average of 20 patients per day were transferred from the camp to an MSF treatment centre. Of these, 64 percent were malnourished and 45 percent severely malnourished. "Some of the patients are so malnourished that they look like skeletons," said Roland Bouwkamp, MSF head of mission in Kisangani. "Sometimes we cannot do anything more for these patients and they die within hours of admission as they are too malnourished and weak to survive." Congolese Health Minister Jean-Baptiste Sondji, who visited the camp earlier this week, promised its inmates would be transferred to a better site with access to clean drinking water, good sanitation and a supply of food.

IMF team visiting Kinshasa

The IMF has said it is willing to help the DRC government with monetary reform, but it will not resume any financing because of the country's debt arrears, AFP reported. Paul Akwa, the head of an IMF mission currently visiting Kinshasa, said his organisation wanted to assist DRC in implementing a reconstruction programme.

KENYA: Government urged to take action over clashes

As violent clashes continue to claim lives in Rift Valley province, diplomatic missions in Nairobi have called on the government to take "prompt, effective action" to end the unrest. In a press release issued yesterday, 21 missions expressed deep concern over ethnic clashes in the province which have caused at least 65 deaths. The violence invoked memories of the "politically motivated ethnic clashes of the early 1990s and more recent attacks at the Coast," the press release said. Kenya needed stability to meet the challenges "in revitalising an economy suffering from a variety of natural and manmade problems". The current violence was sending a "very negative message" to the rest of the world, the press release warned.

Police Commissioner Duncan Wachira yesterday said 33 people had been arrested in connection with the violence in Njoro area of Rift Valley, primarily between Kikuyu and Kalenjin, and dismissed reports security forces had not been given clear instructions, according to KBC radio. President Daniel arap Moi today (Thursday) called for an end to the hostilities and accused the opposition of making "inflammatory remarks" which fuelled the conflict.

Sugar, coffee production to fall

The agriculture ministry has warned Kenya's sugar and coffee production are set to fall this year due to poor weather and a collapsing infrastructure, KTN reported. Sugar production was estimated at 350,000 mt, down from 390,000 mt last year due mainly to the fact cane had not been collected owing to the poor state of roads. In addition, some of the cane collected has a low sugar content. Consumption is estimated at 560,000 mt.

World Bank pledges help

The World Bank today pledged to help Kenya overcome the effects of devastating floods, according to AFP. Its country director Harold Wackman told a news conference the Bank was ready to lend support to emergency programmes. However, he warned that any misuse of the funds would affect relations between Kenya and the Bank.

Nairobi, 29 January 1998, 14:15 gmt


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Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 17:17:44 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 343 for 29 Jan 98.1.29 Message-ID: <>

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

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