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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. 417 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 15 May 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Regional summit postponed sine die
A statement from DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha, issued today (Friday), announced abruptly the postponement of a 16-nation African summit in Kinshasa, UN sources told IRIN. The communique said the meeting was put back due to the "grave tension" between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Disputes in areas on the common border have led to tough statements from Addis Ababa and a call from Eritrea for demilitarised zones between the two countries. Djibouti President Hassan Gouled Aptidon today arrived in Addis Ababa to mediate, news agencies reported.
The Kinshasa Summit, on the theme of Great Lakes solidarity and development had been heading for a disappointing turnout, but South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim and two senior UN officials had already arrived. The presidents of Uganda and Rwanda were reported to have declined invitations to attend, while US diplomats were lukewarm on the meeting, which would have ended a day before the first anniversary of the victory of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) on 17 May. Amnesty International, in a report to mark the first anniversary of the new government, said it was "gravely concerned and disappointed" at the lack of progress in ending a culture of human rights abuses and impunity.
Foreign mining groups take fresh look at mineral wealth
Attracted by the DRC's staggering mineral wealth, foreign investors are taking a fresh look at the country's under-exploited mining industry. "They are looking for a place with potential, and the crucial thing is that the cost of production is very low compared with Latin America" (a rival copper-producing region), an analyst at the London-based 'Metal Bulletin' told IRIN. Katanga province produces 10 percent of the world's copper and 50 percent of the cobalt. "Although politically things are still very uncertain, it's seen as a risk worth taking," the analyst added. The South African firm Iscor is developing the Komoto copper project, an open pit mine with reserves estimated at 66 million mt. A spokesman for the company said negotiations with the government have been "difficult and extremely slow", but the DRC is seen as central to Iscor's long-term mining strategy. "From the mining viewpoint it is the prime mining country in the world," the spokesman said. "It is very high grade copper, shallow, abundant and cheap to mine."
Gold production is seen as another area with potential. On Wednesday, South Africa's Anglo-American and its subsidiary Anglogold announced a joint venture agreement for the exploration of the African interests of Canada's Barrick Gold. Those interests include the Kilo-Moto mine in northeast DRC. Anglogold and Barrick will each hold a 40 percent stake with the remaining 20 percent held by the government.
ANGOLA: South Africa vows to end illegal flights to UNITA
A visiting South African defence ministry envoy yestrday (Thursday) assured the Angolan government that Pretoria will take steps to prevent any violations of Angolan airspace by planes flying supplies to UNITA, AFP reported. General Si Paka said some illegal flights to UNITA renegades had been carried out by clandestine groups of South African and other unidentified nationals using airstrips in South Africa. He is in Luanda to discuss military cooperation between South Africa and Angola.
BURUNDI: Government delegation off to Tanzania to discuss Arusha meeting
A six-member Burundi delegation, led by Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba, was due to leave Bujumbura today for weekend talks in Tanzania on the upcoming all-party meeting in Arusha next month. Niyonsaba told Reuters the delegation would meet mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere as well as President Benjamin Mkapa. He said one of the aims was to explain the new partnership between the Burundi government and the national assembly. The Arusha peace process is set to resume on 15 June, ahead of the dissolution of the current national assembly at the end of June. The authorities are trying to enact a package of reforms before parliament's term ends.
RWANDA: 17 killed by Interahamwe in Gitarama
Interahamwe militiamen massacred 17 people in the central Rwandan prefecture of Gitarama on Tuesday night, the Rwanda News Agency reported. It cited the governor of Gitarama, Desire Nyandwi, as saying that although security had improved in much of the prefecture "some acts of violence by the militias continue to claim the lives of innocent villagers". A special security meeting was convened in Gitarama yesterday, attended by Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame who stressed that security must be safeguarded through collaboration between local people, government officials and the security forces.
Rwanda "turned into a dustbin", Kagame says
Inaugurating a "solidarity camp" for students in Butare this week, Kagame deplored the fact that Rwanda "has been turned into a dustbin", RNA reported yesterday. He blamed "self-styled intellectuals" for the country's problems, accusing them of "inculcating the population with the ideology of hate". He also cricitised foreign media reports which claimed the Rwandan army was killing people in the northwest. He said Hutu militiamen in the northwest were encouraging the population to flee "foreign Tutsi forces", but villagers were now dissociating themselves from the "evil forces".
2,000 prisoners confess to genocide
Rwandan radio yesterday said about 2,000 inmates at a prison in Bugesera, Kigali-Rural prefecture, had admitted taking part in genocide and crimes against humanity. "Directeur de cabinet" in the justice ministry, Gerald Gahima, remarked that the confessions would facilitate genocide trials underway in the country, and urged the plaintiffs to reveal the whole truth.
SUDAN: FAO warning over serious food supply situation
In a special alert, issued today the FAO warns the food supply situation in several areas of south Sudan is giving cause for serious concern. Some 60 to 70 percent of the population in Eastern Equatoria, Bahr al-Ghazal, Lakes, parts of Jonglei state and the transition zones between south and north Sudan are currently in need of emergency food aid, FAO says. However, the situation is expected to improve following the government's decision to allow additional relief flights to the south. Prospects for 1998 will largely depend on rainfall over the next two months.
WFP today expressed concern that the relief operation could be hampered by heavy rains currently lashing south Sudan. Some 70 percent of dirt air-strips have been temporarily rendered unusable. Meanwhile, OLS told IRIN today about 400 mt of cereal seeds - almost half the target for distributing in time for the next season - have already been delivered to Bahr al-Ghazal. Another 300 mt of seeds are expected in the next three weeks.
UGANDA: Eight abducted from protected camp
Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducted eight people from Awer protected camp in Gulu district on Monday night. Only one adult was among the group, according to Kenya's 'Daily Nation'. Protected villages, often guarded by the Ugandan army, are ostensibly created to protect civilians from rebels in Uganda's long-running northern conflicts. An ambush at Lacaretot, 65 km northeast of Gulu, left 14 soldiers seriously injured on the same day, reported AFP.
TANZANIA: 22 religious groups banned
The Tanzanian government has announced it is banning 22 Moslem and Christian religious groups, the BBC reported today. Their registration was being withdrawn with immediate effect. Home Minister Ali Ameir Mohammed had warned he would investigate fundamentalist religious groups and ban those found to be insulting other religions to save the country from bloodshed. His comments followed the death of three people at a mosque in Dar es Salaam during clashes between the police and Islamic militants.
Nairobi, 15 May 1998, 15:20 gmt
[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: email@example.com for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: http://www.reliefweb.int/emergenc or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 18:21:50 -0300 (GMT+3) Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 417 for 15 May 98.5.15
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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