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IRIN Update No. 365 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 28 February-2 March 1998)
RWANDA: At least 17 rebels killed in Gitarama
At least 17 rebels were killed by the army on Saturday during clashes in central Gitarama prefecture, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Local officials said the rebels tried to storm two prisons in Nyakabanda and Bulinga communes, but were thwarted by the security forces. RNA quoted eyewitnesses as saying at least 5,000 rebels took part in the Bulinga attack. According to a Reuters report, around 2,000 rebels killed 19 people and freed about 600 genocide suspects from the prison in Bulinga, as well as torching the mayor's house.
Meanwhile, four truck drivers working for the Bralirwa brewery were killed in ambushes in northwest Ruhengeri prefecture last week, AFP reported. They were transporting beer at the time of the attacks.
Mass genocide trial postponed
A court in northeast Byumba prefecture has postponed the trial of 51 genocide suspects because the cases have not been properly prepared, according to RNA. Both defence and prosecution lawyers said there had not been enough time to prepare such a large number of files. The suspects come from three communes in the prefecture: Mukarange, Kiyombe and Muhura. RNA said it was the first time since genocide trial began in Rwanda that such a large number of people were appearing at the same time. The hearings have been adjourned until 16 March.
Prosecution requests death penalty for priests
The prosecutor in Kibuye, western Rwanda, has asked for the death penalty against two Catholic priests on trial for genocide crimes. Father Jean Francois Emmanuel Kayiranga and Father Emmanuel Nkuriye are charged with involvement in the massacre of over 60 Tutsis at Nyundo junior seminary in Gisenyi and the slaughter of 2,000 others at Nyange church in Kibuye, RNA reported. The verdict is due on 6 March.
The Kibuye court today (Monday) began hearing the case of a teenager accused of genocide. The boy, Aloys Ntirenganya, was aged 15 at the time of the massacres. He is the fifth minor to go on trial for genocide crimes and has been in jail since May 1996.
OAU to set up genocide investigation team
The OAU is to establish a team of seven eminent personalities to investigate the 1994 genocide, according to Rwandan radio. The announcement was made by Minister of State for Education Jean-Pierre Bizimana who recently returned from an OAU ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa. The meeting decided the team would expose how the genocide was planned, and who planned and executed it in a bid to prevent the reoccurrence of such atrocities, the radio said. While in Addis, Bizimana also appealed to countries harbouring genocide suspects to extradite them to Rwanda.
BURUNDI: FAO warns of impending famine
An FAO representative in Bujumbura has warned of impending famine in Burundi. "Famine is here...possibly to stay as production has dropped nationwide by more than 20 percent compared to normal years," Joseph Tchikaya told AFP. He said that if there was no supplementary food aid, malnutrition could intensify and many people risked death. On Friday, Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama appealed for aid to help make up a shortfall of 300,000 Mt of beans, rice and bananas.
Caritas says 20 people dying daily in Murago
Caritas says 20 people are dying per day in Murago, Bururi province, due to malnutrition and disease, according to a WFP report. The situation in the town is described as dramatic, with an average of 100 to 300 people arriving each day in a deplorable state, after wandering for months in forests and marshes. Caritas has requested urgent relief assistance to this displaced population estimated at 5,368 families totalling 37,500 people.
Nine killed in rebel attack
Rebels killed nine people in an attack on a camp for displaced people near Bujumbura, state radio reported over the weekend. It said the rebels, who were dressed in military uniform, also looted shops and kidnapped one person in Friday's raid on the camp in Muzinda. The camp houses some 12,000 displaced people.
Buyoya visits DRC, "fruitful" talks with Kabila
President Pierre Buyoya arrived in Kinshasa yesterday (Sunday) on a one-day working visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Speaking on Burundi radio before his departure, he said the purpose of the visit was to explore bilateral issues including security and cooperation. While in Kinshasa, he told DRC television his talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila had been fruitful. He also said his country was surviving and functioning despite a regional economic embargo. In an interview published today with the French daily 'Liberation', he added that security had returned to most parts of Burundi. "Clashes are still going on in the hills but rebel activity is at a very low level," he was quoted as saying by AFP.
Bagaza release "significant" step for lifting embargo: analysts
A regional summit in Kampala last week decided to maintain the embargo on Burundi, but an article in the 'EastAfrican' weekly today quoted analysts as saying the recent release from house arrest of former president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was a "significant step" towards fulfilling the terms for ending the sanctions. The summit also called for lifting the restrictions on former head of state Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and parliament speaker Leonce Ngendakumana. Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana told the 'EastAfrican' some regional leaders had observed that if the sanctions remain for too long, they could be counter-productive.
UGANDA: Sanctions aimed at Buyoya regime, minister says
Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya on Sunday issued a statement clarifying "misunderstandings" over the sanctions regime imposed on Burundi, Ugandan radio reported. He told the OAU ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa that the "sanctions are not an embargo". They are "a selective regime of sanctions intended not to punish ordinary Burundians, but to put pressure on Major Buyoya's regime so that it can agree to come to the negotiating table."
Thousands fleeing rebels in Gulu
The state-owned 'New Vision' on Saturday reported that thousands of people, fleeing rebel activity in the northwest Gulu district, had taken refuge at Lacor hospital in Gulu town. During the day they returned to their homes, medical superintendent Matthew Lokwiya said. Between 3,000 and 7,000 people arrived every night, he said, adding that a group of 2,500 people had taken up permanent refuge at the hospital.
Clinton due in on 23 March
US President Bill Clinton is due in Kampala on 23 March, according to the 'New Vision'. It said a total of 500 rooms had been booked for the president's entourage. The visit will last until 25 March. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Rebecca Kadaga told AFP African heads of state would arrive in Kampala for a summit meeting with Clinton.
TANZANIA: Burundians return home
A convoy of trucks carrying 272 Burundian refugees left Kigoma region, Tanzania for home last week. UNHCR officials said they were returning on a voluntary basis. Meanwhile Tanzanian officials reported that more Burundian refugees were arriving. About 600 refugees had entered through the Kibirizi border point, some of them wounded, the officials said.
Cholera kills 25 in Mbeya region
At least 25 cholera deaths have been reported in Mbeya region, southwest Tanzania since January, according to Tanzanian radio. It quoted local medical officials as saying Mbarali district was worst-affected with a reported 23 deaths and 275 people hospitalised. AFP also reported that 69 people had died of cholera at a prison in the northwest town of Bukoba. The daily 'Mtanzania' said the disease had broken out last week, and the prison had now been placed under quarantine.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army chief meets Banyamulenge military leaders
Humanitarian sources said there had been a large displacement of the local population in the Uvira-Bukavu region over the last few days due to increased tension within the army. On Saturday, army chief James Kabare met Banyamulenge military leaders in Kamanyola on the border with Rwanda to try and defuse the situation. There have been reports of Banyamulenge soldiers deserting the army.
Newspaper editor freed
Modeste Mutinga, editor of the opposition 'Le Potentiel' daily, has been released from detention, Reuters reported yesterday. He was being held for questioning over an article in the paper on the arrest of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. The report alleged that members of Kabila's government from Kasai province were upset by the politician's arrest and banishment to his home village.
UN team's mandate extended
The UN human rights investigation team has had the extension of its mandate approved by the Congolese government until 31 May. The team's spokesman Jose Diaz announced on Saturday that the approval was contained in a letter to the chief of mission, Atsu Koffi Amega.
Kapalata camp empty
Humanitarian sources told IRIN today the remaining occupants of Kapalata military camp near Kisangani left on Saturday. A total of about 2,500 people, reportedly ex-FAZ and Mayi-Mayi fighters, have been medically screened and transferred to other sites. The camp is due to be cleaned up after an outbreak of cholera last year caused about 300 deaths.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Kolelas sets up government-in-exile
Ousted prime minister Bernard Kolelas has set up a government-in-exile, known as the "constitutional government of the Republic of Congo". Faxes received by IRIN from the "prime minister's office" in Strasbourg and Brussels, announced the appointment of Jean-Claude Mayima as "the constitutional government's representative to the EU and the prime minister's adviser in charge of relations with the press".
Child vaccination campaign ends
A UNICEF-supported child vaccination campaign, which ended in Brazzaville on Saturday, "helped bring back a sense of normality and community strength to a city still struggling to recover from a devastating civil war," UNICEF reported. The six-week campaign covered 208,000 children aged between 9 months and 12 years and brought together thousands of mothers who were able to share common problems.
Nairobi, 2 March 1998, 14:00 gmt
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Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 17:41:25 +0300 (GMT+0300) From:
UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 365
for 28 Feb-2 Mar 98.3.2 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980302173916.3810Demail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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