IRIN Update 385 for 28-30 Mar 98.3.30

IRIN Update 385 for 28-30 Mar 98.3.30

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. 385 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 30 March 1998)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN agrees to send peacekeepers

The UN Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to send up to 1,350 UN peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic. The UN force, to be known as MINURCA, will replace the inter-African force, MISAB, which was deployed to monitor peace agreements signed in January 1997 aimed at ending a series of army mutinies. The mandate of the 750-strong inter-African force expires on 15 April. MINURCA has an initial mandate of three months to help maintain security and train police officers, as well as to provide technical assistance to elections scheduled for September. The UN force is to be comprised of the six African states taking part in MISAB: Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Togo. In addition, Ghana and Ivory Coast will participate, while France is keeping 200 soldiers in Bangui to provide logistical assistance, AFP reported.

US ambassador wants "concrete progress" from government

US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson warned on Friday that if President Ange-Felix Patasse failed to carry out "concrete progress toward necessary economic, political and security reforms, we will find it difficult to renew MINURCA for another period." Western diplomats said that the force's current mandate was limited to take into account US reservations based on financial and strategic concerns, AFP reported.

TANZANIA: British minister calls for government action to end Zanzibar crisis

British minister of state Tony Lloyd on Friday urged the Tanzanian government to pressure the Zanzibar authorities into improving their civil rights record, AFP said. At the end of a four-day official visit to Tanzania, Lloyd said the Tanzanian government was responsible for Zanzibar's human rights violations, because the semi-autonomous twin Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba were not a signatory to international human rights conventions. Lloyd, the foreign office minister of state for the Commonwealth, added: "Britain, the European Union and the Commonwealth all support Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku's initiatives and we appeal to all those involved to engage in negotiations aimed at resolving the stand off."

The Zanzibar government and the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) have been at loggerheads since the 1995 presidential elections on the islands, which the CUF alleges were rigged by the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) against its candidate Seif Shariff Hamad. The CUF has since refused to recognise Zanzibar President Salmin Amour's legitimacy as the chief executive and has boycotted parliament.

Norway freezes aid to Zanzibar

Norway, demonstrating its disapproval of the political standoff, on Friday announced a freeze on new development aid to Zanzibar until the Tanzanian government resolves the Zanzibar crisis. Norway however agreed to provide assistance to Tanzania as a whole after four days of talks with the government, AFP reported. The head of the Norwegian Development Aid (NORAD) delegation said Oslo was willing to consider debt relief after studying a report recently submitted to donors by the Tanzanian government.

Moslems riot over alleged police brutality

Angry Moslems rioted in Dar es Salaam yesterday (Sunday), setting on fire two government vehicles and two CCM branch offices. The rioters were protesting against what they called the "humiliation of Moslem women" who had been detained by police during a similar incident last month, AFP said. On Sunday morning, women claiming to have been tortured and sexually humiliated while in police custody, had staged a peaceful sit-in in the Mwembechai mosque's compound. But the situation changed later in the afternoon when Moslem followers started arriving at the mosque and protested what they called "government suppression."

RWANDA: Spanish nuns released

Two Spanish nuns seized last week by Hutu rebels have been released. The office of the Vatican's envoy in Rwanda said yesterday that the two women belonging to the Saint Anne Charity order, who were kidnapped in the Gisenyi region, were set free in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to AFP, diplomatic sources said the nuns were kidnapped to provide medical care to wounded rebels.

Six appear in court over murder of UN monitors

Six suspected Hutu militiamen appeared in a Rwandan court charged with the 1997 murders of four UN human rights monitors, state radio said on Friday. The proceedings began on Thursday but were adjourned to 15 April. The radio did not say how the accused pleaded, Reuters reported. The four monitors were killed in February 1997 near Cyangugu as they were overseeing the return to Rwanda of Hutu refugees from the former Zaire. The four dead included two expatriates - a Briton and a Cambodian - as well as two Rwandans. Their Rwandan driver also later died of his wounds.

Army kills 20 Hutu rebels

The Rwandan army said it killed 20 Hutu rebels last week in mopping up operations in the north of Ruhengeri prefecture. "These militiamen were just thugs involved in acts of lootings, and terrorising people,'' the commander of the 105 battalion, Major John Birasa told the Rwanda News Agency on Saturday. He estimated the rebel force in the Kirambo area as 300-strong.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Boy soldier executed for murder

A 13-year-old Congolese boy soldier who shot and killed a local Red Cross volunteer in Kinshasa on Sunday after a dispute over a soccer pitch was speedily condemned to death by a military tribunal. Reuters reported that military officers ignored the prosecution's recommendations for life imprisonment and imposed the death penalty. Eyewitnesses said that trouble started when the ICRC staff team asked soldiers to leave the field as they had a scheduled match. The boy then ran for his gun and shot dead the Red Cross volunteer as he tried to flee.

Search for "infiltrators" underway in Goma

The North Kivu security committee has warned the local population against sheltering "illegals" in Goma town, Agence congolaise de presse reported on Saturday. A committee spokesman said the mayor of Goma has been charged with the search for "infiltrators" who are to be repatriated when discovered. People found accommodating them will be severely punished, the news agency said.

BURUNDI: Top Buyoya Aide named in alleged arms running is freed

A Burundi colonel arrested in Nigeria on his way home from an alleged arms buying visit to Europe has been freed, the 'East African' reported today (Monday). Colonel Alfred Nkurunziza was released last week after Nigeria impounded his aircraft carrying a cache of weapons after it landed in Lagos to refuel. Nkurunziza is secretary to the cabinet, the paper said.

Foot disease identified as contagious infection

A joint WHO/Ministry of Public Health technical mission investigating reports of a mysterious disease in Ruyigi and Karuzi provinces have identified the problem as a contagious skin infection. The disease, which attacks the feet and causes them to swell painfully, is spread by people walking barefoot. The disease can be treated locally using antiseptics and antibiotics, humanitarian sources told IRIN.

UGANDA: ADF chairman calls for arrest of "lawless elements"

The chairman of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has called for the arrest of all "lawless elements within our ranks who have been terrorising and harassing innocent civilians." Frank Kithasamba said in a statement received today by IRIN that "a liberation movement that kidnaps, tortures and kills the people it is supposed to protect and liberate is no liberation movement at all but a disgrace". He called on ADF commanders to immediately release civilians in their captivity. He also said the Ugandan army "should also stop its tricks of abducting civilians and claim they were abducted by the ADF."

KENYA: Cattle rustling in North-Rift hamper humanitarian services

NGO's operating in Kenya's North Pokot and Marakwet areas have warned that an upsurge in cattle rustling is threatening their activities, according to Kenya's 'Sunday Nation' . The paper said that cattle raiding by Karamajong crossing from Uganda is on the rise. In reaction to a recent attack when Karamajong raided the Kanyarikwat area and stole 400 cattle, Cabinet Minister Francis Lotodo urged the government to provide enough firearms to police reservists in the region, the 'Daily Nation' reported today.

SUDAN: Omar al-Beshir to visit Cairo

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir will visit Cairo in April to cement warming relations between Egypt and Sudan, Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said in remarks published on Saturday. The Egyptian weekly 'Akhbar al-Yom' quoted Ismail as saying "the Egyptian and Sudanese foreign ministers have agreed that the visit of General Beshir will crown the work of the joint committees charged with bridging the differences which have affected the historic relations between the two countries," AFP reported.

Vice-President denies existence of NIF

Sudan's First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha has denied the existence of the National Islamic Front (NIF), widely regarded as the power behind the government. In an interview published yesterday by the private 'Akhbar Al-Youm', Taha contended that the NIF has become a broad-based Islamic movement, AFP reported. Taha was number two in the NIF before the coup that brought al-Beshir to power. The interview was published a day after parliament passed a draft constitution after three weeks of debate. The deputies unanimously endorsed each of the 140 articles of the draft, except an ambiguously-worded one providing for political association, which was adopted by 261 votes for, 26 against and 11 abstentions. Political parties were banned when al-Beshir took power.

Nairobi, 30 March 1998, 14:15 GMT


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Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998 17:55:54 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 385 for 28-30 Mar 98.3.30 Message-ID: <>

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

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