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IRIN Update No. 374 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 13 March 1998)
RWANDA: Interahamwe said to kill eight in attack in eastern Rwanda
Armed militiamen killed eight ethnic Tutsis in eastern Rwanda, including three local aid workers with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), news organisations reported yesterday (Thursday). The reports said around 30 militiamen, armed with guns, machetes and clubs, raided Rukora 111 settlement in eastern Rwanda close to the Tanzanian border at around 9.30 p.m. on Wednesday evening. Residents contacted in Rusumo from the Rwandan capital said the attackers came across the Tanzanian border and fled back across the Akagera river into Tanzania. Eastern Rwanda has largely escaped an upsurge of violence since last December which has mainly taken place in the northwestern provinces of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi and Gitarama in central Rwanda. The Rwanda News Agency said the attackers were "Interahamwe" militiamen. It quoted one survivor as saying, the attackers had "separated Hutus from Tutsis, and killed the latter".
Government blasts French inquiry as hoax
The Rwandan government has strongly criticised an investigation by a French parliamentary committee into France's role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide as "a hoax", saying all the information was already available. "This fact-finding mission is useless because the information it will be looking for is already there," said Patrick Mazimhaka, a minister in the Rwandan president's office. "This commission is just a hoax," he told the independent Rwanda News Agency late on Wednesday. A French parliamentary committee investigating links between France's military and the Rwandan genocide of 1994 said on Wednesday it would begin hearings on 24 March.
Amnesty International says disappearances on the increase
The human rights organisation Amnesty International said today (Friday) that unexplained "disappearances" were on the rise in Rwanda and had reached "alarming proportions". In some of the cases, the evidence points to the involvement of members of the security forces, while in others no information is available, the report says. Amnesty regards it as "likely" some of the people reported "disappeared" are being held in military detention centres or unofficial places of detention. In other cases, unidentified dead bodies found in Umutara, eastern Rwanda, have been linked to earlier roundups by government troops.
Amnesty also reports two specific allegations of killings of civilians by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). In the first, the RPA is alleged to have shot and killed 300 unarmed civilians in and around Keya, Rubavu commune, Gisenyi starting from 11 January. In the second, more than 120 people were reportedly killed by the RPA in Nyabirehe, Mukingo, Ruhengeri. The report details three incidents in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, in which armed rebels killed at least 130 people in January and February this year. Gisenyi and Ruhengeri and the two northwestern prefectures hardest hit by the ongoing conflict.
Former mayor Akayesu testifies before Arusha tribunal
A defendant at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has testified for the first time as a defence witness. Jean Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba commune in central Rwanda, is the first suspect at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania to take the stand at his own trial. Akayesu, whose trial began in January last year, is charged with crimes including genocide, inciting genocide and crimes against humanity including murder, rape and sexual torture. Akayesu told ICTR President Laity Kama about a pivotal public meeting in Taba commune on 18 April, 1994. Prosecution witnesses say massacres of Tutsis started on April 19 - the day after the meeting - as a direct result of Akayesu's incitement at the meeting.
KENYA: Kenyan business leaders hail US bill on Africa
Kenya's National Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday hailed a duty-busting bill passed by the US House of Representatives as "a gift for Africa," AFP reported. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would eliminate duties on most products imported from Africa, remove textile and apparel quotas applied to Kenya and Mauritius, and establish a no-quota policy for sub-Saharan countries. Passed by the House on Wednesday, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Bill bill will now be debated by the Senate.
Information Minister lashes out against 'jungle journalism'
Kenyan Information Minister Joseph Nyagah lashed out at what he called "jungle journalism" Friday, warning that the government would take unspecified legal action if "reckless reporting" continued. Nyagah told a press conference that attacks on President Daniel arap Moi had to stop, saying newspapers had an obligation "to protect and respect the image of the head of state." He said the government was generally satisfied with the mainstream press, but that some print media had embarked on "a vicious campaign aimed at undermining peace and stability." Meanwhile, Kenyan opposition politicians and a lobby group said they would hold a rally in Nairobi on Saturday to protest recent tax increases and demand the setting up of a constitutional conference. The rally has been organised by the pro-reform National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) and several opposition members of parliament. Last week, the government increased value-added tax (VAT) and raised fuel prices in bid to bridge a $56.6 million budget deficit.
ANGOLA: UNITA rejects legalisation move by government
Former Angolan rebel movement UNITA has attacked the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos accusing it of plotting to destroy it rather than secure a lasting peace. In a statement sent to news agencies in Lisbon, UNITA said that a government declaration on Wednesday that it had legalised UNITA was phoney because it was not accompanied by a promised accord on the future status of the movement's leader Jonas Savimbi. "The leadership...rejects categorically and angrily this pseudo-legalisation of the party which leaves its president on the sidelines," the UNITA statement said.
The Angolan government move, which gave UNITA full party political status, was part of moves to advance a stalled peace process. It followed UNITA's formal declaration at the end of last week of military demobilisation - a key requirement for officially ending Africa's longest running civil war. The UNITA action allowed the adoption of a new timescale for implementation of the Lusaka accords which must now be completed by 1 April. Both sides remain deeply suspicious of each other and continue to trade accusations of peace accord violations.
Chiluba says he is not aiding UNITA
Meanwhile, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba has said Zambia has no capacity to deal in arms, saying tackling serious social and economic problems were the country's priorities. Chiluba, quoted by Zambian state radio - monitored by the BBC - was responding to allegations by Angola that some Zambians are assisting the former rebel movement, UNITA. Last week, Angolan Ambassador to Zambia Manuel Augusto said Zambia was being used to supply arms to UNITA.
SUDAN: Government gives green light to ICRC to resume work
Sudan has agreed to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to resume its activities in the country suspended since 1996, state radio reported. In a report on Wednesday, monitored by the BBC, it said the "green light" was given after all issues that had led to the stoppage of the committee's work in the country had been settled "in accordance with the agreement concluded between the two sides in 1984 and the memorandum of understanding of 1993".
Nairobi, 13 March 1998
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Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 18:22:10 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 374 for 13 Mar 98.3.13 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980313182141.18270Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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