IRIN Update 382 for 25 Mar 98.3.25

IRIN Update 382 for 25 Mar 98.3.25

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. 382 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 25 March 1998)

RWANDA: Hutu rebels massacre Tutsis, Clinton visits

Forty Tutsi returnees from 1959 were massacred in northwest Rwanda on Monday, according to news reports today (Wednesday). The Rwanda News Agency said the slaughter occurred in Kanama commune, near the town of Gisenyi. Many others were injured by the group of some 100 rebels who raided a settlement. Kanama is considered a hotbed of the Hutu insurgency, RNA said. The latest killings come ahead of US President Bill Clinton's visit to Kigali airport today. During his brief visit, Clinton held talks at the airport terminal with President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President Paul Kagame. He also met genocide survivors and commented that the world did not act quickly enough to stop the slaughter in 1994. Neither should the refugee camps have been allowed to become safe havens, he said to loud applause. The Kigali visit is surrounded by controversy after Clinton declined to lay a wreath at a specially constructed genocide memorial. According to a BBC report, the Rwandan government has expressed disappointment and bewilderment over the decision, but a US official said it had never been agreed Clinton would visit the memorial.

The BBC noted that the memorial itself is controversial. Some Rwandans have criticised its construction at the airport because it does not mark a genuine massacre site. It was planned to display some remains of genocide victims, along with machetes, knives, axes and clubs used to kill them.

French parliamentary enquiry hears testimonies on genocide

French parliamentarians yesterday (Tuesday) began public hearings into France's role during the 1994 genocide, media reports said. The first witnesses - experts on Rwandan history and society - said the French embassy in Rwanda was badly informed about local realities and sided uncritically with the Hutu extremists. They added that the Hutus were trained by the French military, while French organisations did nothing to protect their Tutsi employees. One expert, cited by AFP, pointed out that French intervention at the political, military and aid levels had been based on a "deep lack of knowledge" of a complex ethnic situation. Former minister Paul Quiles who heads the enquiry said the aim was not to create a parliamentary-style commission. The enquiry would "place the events including the genocide in their context" in an attempt to "understand the chain of events", he said.

UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sergio Vieira de Mello, addressing the French national assembly's foreign affairs commission today, deplored the international community's "passivity" with regard to the Rwandan genocide. He claimed UN peacekeepers should have been able to "contain" the massacres. He lamented the "sorry spectacle" of the last few years in a region where armed conflict had "singularly increased". Speaking on humanitarian issues in general, de Mello said humanitarian activities should be "rethought" so that they could be properly carried out.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Rwandan refugees killed in reprisal attack

Some 40 Rwandan Hutu refugees were killed by local people in the Central African Republic, AFP reported, citing the opposition daily 'Vouma'. The newspaper said the incident occurred last week, triggered by the murder of two CAR policemen and their driver by four ex-FAR soldiers who were being transferred from a camp at Bouka to the capital Bangui. The refugees were killed in a revenge attack, the paper said. However UNHCR told IRIN only four refugees were killed in the incident at a transit centre in Bouka. The four soldiers responsible for the death of the policemen are reportedly at large.

UGANDA: Clinton meets regional leaders

Clinton later returned from Rwanda to Uganda today for summit talks with African leaders in Entebbe. He is expected to urge African leaders to strengthen democracy to avoid bloodshed, AFP said, quoting Ugandan officials. An "Entebbe Declaration of Principles" will be issued after the meeting.

According to press reports, US officials have indicated that Clinton will announce new measures to counter violence in the Great Lakes region. John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, outlined the measures in Kampala last night, AFP said. They include a reconstruction of judicial systems for which Washington would pledge US$ 30 million. Shattuck also said the US would be announcing the reinvigoration and reestablishment of the UN arms flow commission to stop the spread of illegal arms in the region.

BURUNDI: West, south still affected by rebel activity

Provincial governors have stressed that despite an improvement in the security situation, rebel activity is still strong in western and southern provinces, Burundi radio reported. The observation was made during a meeting betwee the governors and President Pierre Buyoya last week. Infiltrations were still occurring from Tanzania and DRC. The governor of Bujumbura especially noted that rebel groups were trying to turn the region around the capital into their stronghold.

SUDAN: Ruling body for south to set up in Juba

An interim body set up by Khartoum to rule south Sudan for the next four years has chosen the town of Juba as its headquarters, AFP reported. An official of the South Sudan Coordination Council (SSCC) said the organisation would set up operations in Juba in the next few days to oversee the transition period leading to a referendum on the future of south Sudan. Meanwhile World Vision today issued a statement calling for full access to the embattled southern state of Bahr el Ghazal where tens of thousands of people are in urgent need of food.

TANZANIA: Zanzibar Electoral Commission criticises foreign embassies

The Zanzibar Electoral Commission has accused 10 embassies in Tanzania of interfering with the 1995 presidential elections in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, the state-owned 'Daily News' reported. It said the 10 unnamed embassies had issued a joint statement after the elections questioning the fairness of the poll, an action which amounted to "intrusion" and "confusion" over the commission's jurisdiction and rights. The opposition Civic United Front has refused to recognise the legitimacy of President Salmin Amour, accusing the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi of rigging the vote.

Nairobi, 25 March 1998, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 18:09:32 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 382 for 25 Mar 98.3.25 Message-ID: <>

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

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