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IRIN Update No. 384 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 27 March 1998)
RWANDA: President of country's highest court suspended
The president of Rwanda's highest court, Major Augustin Cyiza, has been suspended from his duties. The government said that Cyiza had been suspended "to facilitate an enquiry concerning him", without giving further details. The decision was taken at a meeting of some cabinet members on Tuesday, AFP reported. As head of the highest court known as the Cour de Cassation, Cyiza is also one of the five vice presidents of Rwanda's Supreme Court, which is empowered to deal with the trials of those accused of genocide in 1994. The Supreme Court will oversee elections when the five-year mandate of the current transitional Government of National Unity and Reconciliation expires next year. According to AFP, the head of the Supreme Court, Jean Mutsinzi, is a powerful figure close to the current regime, but the five vice presidents are all former officials in the government of murdered Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana. Cyiza is an ex-FAR officer.
School teachers kidnapped by rebels
Three school teachers were kidnapped by Hutu rebels at Cyeru, near Ruhengeri, on Wednesday, the Rwanda News Agency reported. It said about 30 militiamen, armed with rifles, attacked the school, looting food stocks and burning property. This was the second attack this week on a school in Ruhengeri prefecture. On Tuesday, five students were killed and seven injured when rebels opened fire on a school in Nkuli commune.
ICTR begins deliberations in Akayesu trial
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has begun deliberations in the case of former mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu. The defence counsel delivered their closing arguments yesterday (Thursday), contending that Akayesu was a scapegoat for genocide ringleaders in the central Rwandan commune of Taba. The defence team claimed that Akayesu had lost de facto control to a group of Interahamwe, who bore genuine responsibility for the killings in the area, an ICTR statement said.
France reminds that UN ignored its calls for action during genocide
France on Thursday hailed US President Bill Clinton's courage in admitting the world had failed to do enough in the face of Rwanda's 1994 genocide but recalled that Paris had urged the United Nations to no avail to take action. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret told reporters that Paris welcomed the "frankness and courage" of Clinton, who said during a stop in Kigali on Wednesday that the world had not done what it could in the face of the bloodshed. However, she recalled that when the bloodshed began in April 1994, France "took very vigorous action at the UN" to ensure the maintenance of its peacekeeping force, AFP reported. "France's call for the United Nations operation to be reinforced was backed by nobody," she said.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Rwandan refugee camp closed
The CAR government has asked UNHCR to close the Bouka Rwandan refugee camp, Gabonese Radio No1 reported yesterday. The move follows the 17 March attack on the camp by the local population in retaliation for the killing of two policemen by a group of ex-FAR soldiers being transferred to Bangui. Interior Minister General Francois Djader Bedaya told the radio that the camp's closure was "not an act of hostility towards persons in distress". But, he added, the country "cannot sacrifice its citizens" while providing humanitarian assistance.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rights group calls for UN withdrawal
Human Rights Watch has called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withdraw UN human rights investigators from the DRC and hold President Laurent-Desire Kabila accountable for obstructions, AP reported. In a letter to Annan published today (Friday), the US-based group noted the withdrawal last week of a UN team of forensic experts from Mbandaka where they were threatened by angry residents who accused them of desecrating a traditional grave site. "This protest would appear to have been organised by the government as yet a further pretext to impede the investigation,'' Human Rights Watch said. The government has also been harassing and questioning witnesses who spoke to UN investigators in the eastern town of Goma, the letter said.
Kabila receives message from Castro
A Cuban envoy arrived in Kinshasa on Thursday with a message for Kabila from Fidel Castro, his Cuban counterpart, AFP quoted an official source as saying. Cuba's deputy foreign minister, Eumelio Caballero Rodriguez, was met by his opposite number in the capital and was expected officially to reopen Cuba's embassy. The DRC ministry of foreign affairs gave no details of the nature of the message to Kabila.
BURUNDI: Split alleged within CNDD
Regional analysts say there are signs of a split within the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD). A member of the organisation told the BBC Kirundi service last night that CNDD's executive committee had been dissolved amid accusations of regionalism and tribalism. Analysts point out that CNDD leader Leonard Nyangoma is a Hutu from the southern region of Bururi, while his deputy, Christian Sendegaya, is a Tutsi from the north.
Renewed fighting erupts
A fresh wave of fighting between the army and Hutu rebels has forced some 15,000 villagers to flee their homes about 15 km north of Bujumbura, provincial governor Stanislas Ntahobari told Reuters yesterday. He said the clashes had displaced civilians from the Kibuye and Rushubi zones of Isale commune, and they were now grouped in about 11 sites throughout the area. However, army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isaie Nibizi said he was not aware of any fighting in the area and Ntahobari could give no casualty figures.
SUDAN: MPs accuse Eritrea of shelling border region, displacing 100,000
Two Sudanese parliamentary deputies have criticised the authorities for failing to help at least 100,000 villagers in the Red Sea region displaced by artillery fire allegedly from across the Eritrean border, Reuters reported. A private local newspaper on Thursday quoted one deputy, Mussua Hussein Dirar, who accused the Red Sea state government of "totally neglecting" villagers that have fled the "intensive artillery shelling". Dirar called on the United Nations to "intervene quickly to save the displaced." Another member of the national assembly, Mohamed Ahmed al-Atta of Kassala state, said that more than 50,000 other people had been forced out of border villages by shelling and were "scattered in temporary camps in the forests". Atta also charged that landmines, which he said were laid by Eritrean troops, had "caused numerous casualties among civilians" and demanded their removal.
Foreign minister in Egypt to discuss security issues
Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail held talks in Cairo with Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adli on security issues yesterday, news agencies reported. Adli said after the meeting that he "welcomed the consolidation of cooperation between the Egyptian and Sudanese security services." Over the past few months ties between Sudan and Egypt have improved considerably, bringing a halt to Cairo's periodic accusations that the Islamic-led government in Khartoum supports Egyptian Islamists.
UGANDA: Cholera outbreak spreads to the east
The Ugandan government has warned that an outbreak of cholera is spreading fast in the east of the country, with more than 100 new cases being reported every day, the BBC reported. According to the authorities, 130 people have died since December in Mbale district, where some 4,600 cases have been reported so far.
Nairobi, 27 March 1998, 14:15 GMT
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Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 17:34:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 384 for 27 Mar 98.3.27 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980327173350.18007Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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