Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 357 for 18 Feb 98.2.18

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 357 for 18 Feb 98.2.18

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 357 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 18 February 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila says peace precondition for elections

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has rejected pressure to hold elections until "peace prevails". Speaking on state-controlled television on Monday, Kabila said the country was awash with guns, "that is why we have decided to ban political activities, so that people don't shoot at one another." In the broadcast, monitored by the BBC, Kabila said a census would be held by August of this year and a referendum on a draft constitution by October. Elections would then follow, but he set no date.

Kabila defended his decision to send opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi to his home village, saying he was "happy" there. "When political activities kick off just after the transitional period ... he can come back and resume his political activities if he so desires," he added.

Uvira calm after clashes

Calm has returned to Uvira after clashes between government soldiers and unidentified armed assailants early yesterday morning. According to humanitarian sources, heavy firing was heard in the northern and southern quarters of the town. One source, quoting a military officer, said Burundi rebels attempting to cross Lake Tanganyika were ambushed by the army.

ANGOLA: Dos Santos-Savimbi meeting stalled over security arrangements

Disagreement over the security detail for Angolan former rebel leader Jonas Savimbi is blocking plans for his meeting with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, AFP reported. Discussions between UNITA and the government continued yesterday in Luanda. Agreement has been reached on the proposal to reduce the 400 men Savimbi is allowed as bodyguards over the next nine months to no more than 150. But a spokeswoman for the UN Angolan peacekeeping mission told IRIN today (Wednesday) that the sticking point is the "guards' distribution". The government insists that only 50 would be allowed in Luanda, while UNITA demands a larger contingent, or an exemption "under special circumstances". According to the spokeswoman, the issue is important as the "UNITA leadership will have to move to Luanda before 28 February," the deadline agreed by both sides in a revised peace timetable.

She also pointed out that according to the timetable, demobilisation of UNITA residual forces is due to conclude by 26 February. However, 3,000 UNITA men out of 7,877 remain to be processed. She said demobilisation "has been advancing quite fast, and I think it's feasible."

Attacks mount by armed men in southwest

Six people were killed and four wounded in a machine-gun attack on Friday on a coach travelling along the Luanda-Benguela road, 60 km from the southwestern port of Lobito, the state daily Journal d'Angola reported today. In a separate incident, four people, three of them police officers, reportedly died at the weekend in an attack blamed on former UNITA rebels in Benguela Province. Local radio said four other people were wounded in the raid, the first such incident linked to UNITA since the beginning of the year. The radio said two other people were killed in a blast along the road connecting the towns of Lukapa and Kalukul in the northeast. It added that several people had also been killed in an attack blamed on UNITA near the northeast town of Xamuteba.

According to the MONUA spokeswoman, "there's been a slight increase in the number of allegations and incidents verified. But I can't say there's an atmosphere of instability."

BURUNDI: CNDD pulls out of talks

The Hutu rebel Conseil national pour la defence de la democratie (CNDD) has pulled out of negotiations with the regime of Pierre Buyoya, AFP reported. In a statement on Tuesday from Brussels, CNDD spokesman Jerome Ndiho said the rebels "from today suspend their participation in the negotiating process until the genocidal leadership of Bujumbura publicly desists from the massacre of innocent civilians." Uganda was planning to host a regional summit on Burundi in Kampala on Saturday. The summit was expected to review regionally-imposed sanctions against Burundi.

Kenya Airways resumes flights to Burundi

Kenya Airways yesterday resumed its flights to Bujumbura as part of a planned weekly service, the airline said. An official told IRIN that the airline had received official clearance to cross Tanzanian airspace.

GREAT LAKES: EU food aid arrives

A 25,000 ton consignment of EU-donated maize for WFP's emergency operations in the Great Lakes region landed at Mombasa port yesterday. The donation, valued at US $10.7 million including transport costs, will provide a maize ration for 1.4 million people for one and a half months, a WFP statement said. WFP's 1998 food requirement for the region is 250,000 tons. The 25,000 tons of maize will be divided amongst WFP operations in four countries: Rwanda (16,312 MT), Uganda (3,000 MT), Burundi (5,186 MT), and Democratic Republic of Congo (502 MT). Due to flood damage to transport links, "the challenge now will be to transport the food in-land," Allen Jones, Regional Manager for WFP's Great Lakes operation said.

Meanwhile, security along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway has been increased to protect cargo held up along the flood-damaged road, the 'Daily Nation' reported today. "When we feel we cannot cope with the situation, we shall close the road again and advise transporters to use alternative means," a police spokesman said.

UGANDA: New military reshuffle

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday replaced army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu with Major General Jeje Adong. Army public relations officer Shaban Bantazira told AFP the latest reshuffle involved more than 10 appointments. These included the elevation of former chief of combat operations Brigadier Joram Mugume to deputy army commander, while former director of military intelligence, Colonel Tole, was made chief of operations for training.

TANZANIA: Cholera claims 108 in southern highland region

At least 27 people have died from cholera in Tanzania's southern highland region of Iranga between 6 January and 12 February this year, state-owned radio Tanzania reported yesterday. The radio said the new deaths brought to 108 the total number of fatalities since the disease broke out in the region last October. Meanwhile, the Tanzanian government has leased a DC-8 cargo plane from Belgium to ferry anti-cholera medicines to the northern Lake Victoria region, where the disease is on the increase, AFP said. As of Tuesday, two trips had been made, carrying a total of 80 tones of medical aid for Mwanza and the surrounding areas of Shinyanga and Tabora. The regions are facing acute shortages of drugs after the collapse of rail and road transportation in the wake of heavy rains and flooding since October.

Meanwhile, the EU said on Tuesday that its temporary ban on fish exports from Tanzania did not include frozen or processed fish products. The EU head of delegation in Tanzania, Peter Beck, said the ban imposed recently over concern at continued cholera outbreaks in east Africa, applied to all fresh fish coming from Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. He added that EU countries have also taken "precautionary measures" over fresh fruit and vegetables imports which include sample testing at airports of entry.

SUDAN: New vice president named

Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammed Taha was named Sudan's first vice president on Tuesday, replacing General Al Zubair Mohammed Saleh, killed in a plane crash last week, the official SUNA news agency said. Minister of state for foreign affairs Mustafa Osman Ismail was named to replace Taha as foreign minister.

Nairobi, 18 February 1998 15:30 GMT


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-- Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 17:54:21 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 357 for 18 Feb 98.2.18 Message-ID: <>

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

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