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IRIN Update No. 405 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 28 April 1998)
SUDAN: "Sheer desperation" in Bahr al-Ghazal, WFP says
WFP has described the humanitarian situation in southern Bahr al-Ghazal state as one of "sheer desperation". A WFP spokeswoman who last week visited Majakaliet county told IRIN only 30 percent of some 25,000 people who came to the UN food distribution centre there could be fed. She described the scene as "all hell breaking loose" when the food distribution began, saying people had been "reduced to ripping each other apart" for food. "They have been reduced to choosing who lives and who dies," she added, pointing out that people trekked for four days just to receive a cup of maize and beans. A BBC report from the area commented that Khartoum's authorisation of a second plane to airlift food may have come too late to save tens of thousands of people possibly on the verge of a new famine.
SPLA denies offensive claim
The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has denied claims by Khartoum that it is planning a major offensive in southern and eastern Sudan. A Nairobi-based SPLA spokesman, George Garang, told IRIN today (Tuesday) the organisation was defending its positions in eastern Sudan which had come under attack from government troops for the last three years. Garang claimed "the Sudanese army is recruiting children" in preparation for war. He also warned the Sudanese government against restricting international aid flights to use as leverage against the SPLA. SPLA will push for more international aid flights during the 4 May peace talks in Nairobi, he added. Meanwhile Sudanese Defence Minister Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Sulayman said it was "mandatory to call up all young people" for military service to enable them to fight alongside the army, Sudanese television reported yesterday (Monday).
UGANDA: Museveni meets US, Sudanese delegations
President Yoweri Museveni held talks at the weekend with visiting US special envoy to the Great Lakes region Howard Wolpe, Ugandan radio reported. He also had a separate meeting with a Sudanese government delegation, led by former rebel Riak Machar who presides over the Southern Sudan Coordination Council. The radio gave no details of the talks.
"Final assault" against ADF rebels, Museveni says
The Ugandan army is mounting a "final assault" against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) after they had been flushed out of their hideouts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Museveni told a parliamentary committee last week. According to the state-owned 'New Vision', the president said the DRC army had chased the rebels out of Congo and they "are now hiding on the Uganda side of the Ruwenzori mountains". "It will now be easy to deal with them in a final assault," Museveni said.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Banyamulenge soldiers sentenced to death for "mutiny"
Bukavu radio has announced the handing down of a number of death sentences following a court martial in the town. They include several Banyamulenge soldiers sentenced for involvement in an army mutiny earlier this year. A total of 27 Banyamulenge soldiers were on trial, 10 of whom were sentenced to five years imprisonment for "forming an informal group in Uvira", the radio said.
RWANDA: Former premier to appear before ICTR on genocide charges
Former Rwandan premier Jean Kambanda, the highest-ranking ex-political leader indicted for genocide, will make his first appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday. According to an ICTR press release today, he will enter a plea in respect of the charges against him. Kambanda was arrested in Nairobi last July and transferred to the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The ICTR press release also noted that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit the tribunal on 5 May during his tour of Africa.
Former police chief arrested in Burkina Faso
Meanwhile another prominent genocide suspect, former military police chief and prefect of Butare Alphonse Nteziryayo, has been arrested in Burkina Faso and is awaiting extradition to Arusha. Nteziryayo, who was the commanding officer of the former government's military police, allegedly ordered the murder of surviving Tutsis in his prefecture. In Mali, two former Rwandan officers sought by the tribunal for genocide have been denied political asylum by UNHCR. Laurent Simpenzwe Serubuga is a former army chief of staff, while Francois Sibourama was believed to be a close friend of ex-president Juvenal Habyarimana, press reports said.
Rebels kill priest in Ruhengeri
Rebel militiamen in northern Rwanda killed a priest of Ruhengeri cathedral over the weekend, AFP reported, citing military sources. The priest, Bernard Kagabo, was killed in Kigombe commune and soldiers retaliated, but the attackers managed to flee. Five civilians were also killed by rebels in the same sector.
Rwandan exiles condemn executions
An exiled Rwandan opposition group, Forces de resistance pour la democratie (FRD), has condemned last week's execution of 22 genocide convicts. A statement signed by a leading member, Seth Sendashonga, accused the Rwandan authorities of "trivialising the annihilation of life". The statement claimed the executions "further seriously compromised prospects for establishing peace" and called for round-table talks with the government. The Rwandan government has said the executions served to demonstrate an end to impunity for the 1994 genocide and would deter rebels attempting to continue their insurgency in the country.
BURUNDI: Think tank says sanctions not working
A Brussels-based think tank has added its voice to calls for lifting regional sanctions against Burundi. According to AFP, the International Crisis Group, in a report entitled "Burundi Under Siege", said the embargo had made the poor poorer and the rich richer "by creating opportunities for extortion rackets, corruption and highly-profitable black market economic activities". The sanctions had also played a part in "radicalising certain elements within the army and the minority Tutsi community by adding to their sense of persecution and vulnerability," the report added. The current regional peace process was seen as too partisan and had "evolved into a personal vendetta between the former Tanzanian president [mediator Julius Nyerere] and the president of Uganda on the one hand and [Burundi President] Buyoya on the other".
Foreign minister calls for team of neutral mediators
Burundi's Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama, interviewed in Nairobi on Friday, called for a "team of neutral mediators", representing different regions of Africa. Thus, Nyerere could represent east Africa with other representatives for other areas. On the transition, the minister said the authorities initially set a three-year time frame but with the imposition of sanctions this had proved unrealistic. He said the transition was being "rediscussed" with political partners and that "within a reasonable period" peace and stability would be restored leading to democracy.
Buyoya embarks on campaign to explain new policies
Azania news agency reported today that negotiations on the elaboration of a new transitional consitution could be completed this week. It said the talks were focusing on a "less explosive" power-sharing arrangement between minority Tutsis and majority Hutus. President Pierre Buyoya, who has embarked on a campaign to explain the new policies to Burundians, yesterday told a crowd in Bujumbura the people themselves would shape peace in the country and urged them to "move in the same direction". The president denied there were plans to integrate the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) into the army.
KENYA: Two said killed in fresh Rift Valley clashes
Two people were killed and several houses torched yesterday when clashes erupted in Njoro division of Rift Valley province, press reports said. The Nakuru-based coordinator of the Catholic Peace and Justice Committee (CPJC) Ernest Muremi told IRIN today the violence "is a resurgence of the January-February clashes" where politically-motivated and ethnic fighting left 127 people dead. Muremi said tension has been high in the area since January but heavy security presence had deterred attacks. He said a number of people had fled their homes and were camped out at Kianjoya shopping centre. Security forces have been sent to the area "but lack of political will" to solve the ethnic animosity may lead to "a full-scale inter-tribal clash", Muremi said.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Southern areas in darkness as militia control power plant
'Le Choc' weekly newspaper in Brazzaville today that
the Moukoukoulou hydroelectric station in southern
Congo is still held by Cocoyes militia allied to former
president Pascal Lissouba. As a result, the city of
Pointe-Noire and other areas of southwest Congo have
been deprived of electricity for the past three weeks.
A government delegation has been negotiating with the
Cocoyes since 6 April, the newspaper reported. It added
workers of the Societe Nationale d'Electricite were
being held hostage at the power station.
GABON: Central African ministers meet to discuss security
Defence and interior ministers from 11 central African countries were due to open a meeting in Libreville today aimed at discussing judicial, police and military issues with regard to combating the illegal flow of weapons and drugs in the region. The talks are due to conclude with the creation of a body for preventing and containing conflicts. The countries represented include Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Chad.
Nairobi, 28 April 1998, 14:20 gmt
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Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 17:21:03 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 405 for 28 Apr 98.4.28 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980428171846.22586Efirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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