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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. 390 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 4-6 April 1998)
RWANDA: Genocide anniversary commemorated
Rwanda today (Monday) marks the fourth anniversary of the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered. The violence was unleashed on 6 April 1994 after a plane crash in which Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was killed. The Rwandan government plans a week of remembrance ceremonies , including the formal reburial of thousands of genocide victims. The head of the government commission for national reconciliation, Bernardin Rutazibwa, quoted by the BBC, noted that violence was still raging in the country. "There are the authors of genocide who continue to perpetrate massacres in the north," he said.
French foreign ministry to stay silent on genocide
The French foreign ministry has said it will not answer any more media enquiries regarding its role in the genocide. A ministry spokeswoman pointed out a parliamentary investigation into the matter was under way and therefore it would probe any allegations. She added that the ministry had expressed its "entire willingness" to cooperate with the enquiry, AFP reported. Edouard Balladur, who was prime minister at the time of the genocide, has agreed to give evidence to the enquiry on 21 April, along with three other ex-ministers from his cabinet.
Talks with IMF under way
Rwanda is negotiating a three-year loan with the IMF to help it repair its damaged economy. Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka told a news conference last week the country needed US $170 million. An IMF spokesman told Reuters negotiations were under way, but declined to specify the amount. Kaberuka said foreign borrowing was the only way out for a country burdened by massive external debt and the ravages of war. "In the last three years we have been depending on humanitarian assistance," he said. "It's high time we moved to sustainable development."
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Belgium denies weapons cache allegations
Belgium has strongly denied allegations by the DRC of gun-running in Lubumbashi. Congolese television on Saturday said the security services had discovered an arsenal of assault weapons at the Belgian consulate in DRC's second city. The television report claimed the arsenal was "enough to storm a fortress" and accused the Belgian diplomats of not declaring the weapons to the local authorities. However, a statement by the Belgian embassy in Kinshasa yesterday (Sunday) expressed "surprise" over the allegations, describing them as "either total ignorance of the facts or irresponsible and manipulative behaviour by certain people". The weapons consignment in question, he added, had been declared to the former authorities and to their successors who reportedly never gave formal authorisation to arrange the repatriation of the equipment. Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke, speaking on Belgian television yesterday, accused the DRC authorities of "organising a dramatic set-up". "It has nothing to do with terrorism, but everything to do with the insecurity and policy which reigns in the Congo," he said.
Government warns against acts of destabilisation
A government statement, broadcast by DRC television on Saturday, expressed determination to oppose any act "aimed at destabilising the new regime" of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. The statement claimed a number of plots had been hatched against Kabila "through certain diplomats in embassies accredited to the DRC". The statement condemned "neo-colonialist policies implanted in our country and sordid games of interest".
AZADHO human rights organisation banned
The DRC authorities have banned the national human rights organisation AZADHO. Justice Minister Kongolo Mwenze, speaking on DRC television on Saturday, said AZADHO had no formal authorisation and had therefore been operating illegally. He accused the organisation of "indulging in political campaigns instead of providing objective reports", adding that it was funded by foreign groups and could not be considered Congolese. However, AZADHO's president Guillaume Ngefa - quoted by Radio France Internationale today - stated the ban would be ignored. "The government is looking for a scapegoat to cover its political and economic failure," he said. AZADHO would appeal to the Supreme Court, he added. The International Commission of Jurists today strongly condemned the outlawing of AZADHO and urged foreign governments to make aid conditional on respect for democracy and human rights.
'Le Palmares' daily said today the government wanted to replace AZADHO with its own human rights organisation to be known as l'Association congolaise pour la defense des droits humains.
Human Rights Watch last week charged that the Congolese authorities were cracking down on a range of independent voices to "silence criticism of their increasingly repressive policies". It called on the government to "cease attacks on civil society" and punish those responsible for harassing civil rights defenders.
List of "politically excluded" revoked
A presidential statement on Friday declared "null and void" a list of 248 names excluded from political activity issued by the constitutional commission earlier last week. The statement said commission president Anicet Kashamura had been acting in "an individual capacity" and the government distanced itself from the list. The commission's responsibilities were limited to drawing up a draft constitution for the third republic, the statement added.
Statement on UN mission to be issued
Information Minister Raphael Ghenda has announced the government will issue a full statement in the next 10 days on the UN investigation into alleged human rights violations, the BBC reported yesterday. He attacked the mission, describing it as part of a plot to destabilise the new leadership in Kinshasa.
DRC sovereignty must be respected aid-wise, minister says
Minister of State for the Economy Pierre-Victor Mpoyo has spelled out his country's policy on foreign aid. In comments broadcast by DRC television on Saturday, he bemoaned the lack of foreign assistance but stressed the country had been managing on its own resources. DRC's three-year development plan required an estimated US $3 billion. "We don't want our attention to be distracted with US $1 million aid here, US $500,000 there," he said. Any government wishing to help DRC should take into account the three-year plan and respect the country's sovereignty. "If it [aid] is not within this plan, then we don't want such aid," he stated.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Train service suspended due to Brazzaville fighting
Humanitarian sources in Brazzaville told IRIN today that fighting was still under way in the city's Mouyondzi area and therefore trains between Brazzaville and the southern city of Pointe Noire had been suspended. Clashes broke out last week when a group of former militiamen, loyal to former president Pascal Lissouba, refused to hand over their weapons to police during a disarmament operation.
BURUNDI: Reform of education system
The ministry of secondary and higher education has stated that preparations are under way to reform the country's devastated education system, Azania news agency reported. According to recent figures, over a million children should attend school but in fact only 600,000 are receiving an education. Only 20 percent of primary school children attain secondary school. In a bid to address the issue, some 200 local educational establishments have been constructed. However teachers' unions are calling for better wages which would cost the government an extra six billion Burundian francs, Azania said.
Finance minister discusses debt repayment with Ugandan counterpart
The finance ministers of Burundi and Uganda held talks in Kampala last week to try and resolve a dispute over millions of dollars owed to Bujumbura, the 'EastAfrican' weekly reported today. Uganda owes US $26.5 million for goods supplied by Burundi to the Ugandan military over 10 years ago. Burundi Finance Minister Astere Girukwigomba told the weekly he hoped agreement would finally be reached after years of fruitless negotiations. The sales of goods, such as blankets, cigarettes and matresses, by Burundi businessmen were on credit and were guaranteed by the government. Ugandan officials acknowledged that Burundi was owed money but said issues such as exchange rates and debt strategy had first to be worked out.
UGANDA: Hotel bombings kill four
Bomb attacks on two cafes in central Kampala late on Saturday killed four people and wounded six, news reports said. Minister of State for Political Affairs Anama Mbabazi said: "It's early days yet, but the security services have some suspicions." A security official told AFP that Ugandan intelligence suspected that a Sudanese-sponsored group, which he did not identify, had carried out the attacks. The Khartoum-backed group, he said, had links with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group active in western Uganda. The first blast at Speke Hotel took place at around 21:00. Two Burundians wounded in the explosion died while undergoing surgery at Mulago hospital. Two Ugandan waitresses hit by the second bomb, which went off at 23:30 in the nearby Nile Grill bar, were declared dead on arrival at the same hospital.
Army on alert along Sudan border
The Ugandan army has been placed on full alert to prevent infiltration by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from across the Sudanese border, according to the 'New Vision' newspaper. The official daily reported last week that the army would occupy suspected entry routes. An army spokesman denied that extra troops had been mobilised for the operation.
SUDAN: Garang supports ceasefire
Sudanese rebel leader John Garang has announced his support for a ceasefire "on humanitarian grounds" but "lamented that the other side used the opportunity to rearm and reorganise its forces," the official Kenya News Agency (KNA) reported on Monday. The Nairobi office of Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) told AFP that his comments were neither an acceptance nor a rejection of a ceasefire call by the Khartoum government ahead of peace talks due to be held in Nairobi at an unspecified date later this month. The comments came during a weekend meeting at Lokichokio, on the Kenya-Sudan border, with representatives of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is sponsoring the Nairobi talks, the news agency said.
At least 55 conscripts drown in escape bid
At least 55 young conscripts drowned in a mass bid to escape compulsory military training in Sudan. The Khartoum daily 'Alwan' reported today that 260 recruits were still missing on Sunday from the Ailefoun camp, about 30 km southeast of Khartoum. They were among 2,100 young men taken to the camp by force after being rounded up as evaders. The deaths occurred when an unknown number of conscripts fled in a boat which sank on Thursday night on the Blue Nile, apparently overloaded. Every 18-year-old Sudanese male has to perform 18-24 months of national military service before he can obtain work or travel abroad, AFP said.
Political parties to be legalised if committed to proposed constitution
Sudan's Islamic government plans to allow the formation of political parties if they are committed to the "fundamentals" of a planned new constitution, press reports said on Sunday. Khartoum is planning to hold a referendum in late April and early May on the controversial draft constitution, already passed by the national assembly. If it passes the referendum, it will come into force in June. However, the hardline Islamic Muslim Brotherhood has criticised the draft. In a statement to AFP, the organisation claimed it "is not an Islamic constitution because it contradicts the basic Islamic principles." It criticised the proposal for giving citizenship, rather than faith, as the basis for equal rights and duties. It thus "treats a Muslim and an infidel" on an equal footing and "enables a non-Muslim to assume public office in an Islamic state," the group said.
Nairobi, 6 April 1998, 14:10 gmt
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Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 17:15:24 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 390 for 4-6 Apr 98.4.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980406171332.2465Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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