IRIN Update 424 for 26 May 98.5.26

IRIN Update 424 for 26 May 98.5.26

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. 424 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 26 May 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Six ministers arrested or questioned

Six DRC ministers are "behind bars or about to be", according to the DRC daily 'La Reference Plus' today (Tuesday). It says Information Minister Raphael Ghenda, Minister without Portfolio Kambale Mututulo and International Cooperation Minister Celestin Lwangi are under arrest, while Energy Minister Pierre Lokombe, Planning Minister Etienne Mbaya and Industry Minister Babi Mbayi are reportedly undergoing interrogation. No official explanation has been given, but 'La Reference Plus' says the arrests of Ghenda and Lwangi could be linked to the airing of the film 'Never Again' which depicts atrocities allegedly committed during the liberation war. 'Le Potentiel' said the president's "directeur de cabinet" Yerodia Ndombasi was also questioned in connection with the film, but he was reportedly released later.

According to 'Le Potentiel', video footage shows soldiers of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) standing next to the bodies of "presumed Rwandan Hutu refugees". The newspaper said the film was authorised to be aired on national television by a committee charged with organising the Kinshasa regional summit earlier this month which later failed to take place. The committee included Yerodia Ndombasi and Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha, 'Le Potentiel' said. "Their aim was to show that the current authorities in Kinshasa never again wanted to see such acts of barbarism in the Democratic Republic of Congo," it wrote.

Transitional constituent assembly established

The authorities have established a transitional constituent assembly to draw up a draft constitution for the DRC. According to a BBC report, the assembly was created by presidential decree and will have legislative powers. It specifically excludes anyone who held public office during the regime of former president Mobutu Sese Seko. The BBC said this would bar remaining opponents of President Laurent-Desire Kabila such as veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.

UGANDA: Rebels refuse to link schoolgirl releases to freeing of Sudanese POWs

Lord's Resistance Army rebels have rejected demands by President Yoweri Museveni free 21 schoolgirls abducted from Uganda's northern Lira district in 1995. According to the state-owned 'New Vision' yesterday (Monday), an LRA press release said any attempt to rescue the girls by force would result in their death. Uganda last week released 42 of 114 Sudanese prisoners "as a goodwill gesture". The LRA press release said the rebels would free the girls "at the right time".

Army confirms major LRA offensive in north

Ugandan army chief-of-staff Brigadier James Kazini has confirmed a major LRA rebel incursion into northern Uganda, led by Joseph Kony from his base in south Sudan. Kazini told AFP yesterday some 23 rebels were killed in a gunbattle with the army on Friday in Gulu district. He said he believed large numbers of rebels had crossed over from Sudan because they feared they were likely to lose Khartoum's support. "Now we are normalising relations with Sudan, I think Kony suspects that they might change their attitude towards him," Kazini said. According to the 'New Vision', Major General Salim Saleh who is in charge of the defence ministry, went to Gulu yesterday after hearing that Kony was in Atiak, northeast of Gulu town.

Interahamwe attack Ugandan villages

The 'New Vision' also reported that Rwandan Interahamwe militiamen attacked villages in Kisoro county, southwest Uganda, last Thursday looting and destroying property. Local officials said the rebels threatened residents, sending them fleeing in panic. Four unarmed Interahamwe members were arrested by Mganinga Park wardens and are being interrogated. According to a local official, the attackers "are not killers, they are after property".

Meanwhile, an officer of the Rwandan Patriotic Army told AFP that Uganda, Rwanda and DRC were exchanging information regarding the movement of Interahamwe militiamen through the three countries. He said the information exchange did not amount to a joint military operation.

RWANDA: Army launches major offensive against rebels in northwest

The Rwandan army has killed seven Interahamwe militiamen in a major sweep in the northwest, a military source said, according to AFP. The incident occurred on Saturday in Ngilu, near the town of Ruhengeri. The source said the RPA had been waging a "fairly large campaign after a mass return of civilians who had followed the militiamen to the volcano district". He said such returnees often provided the army with details of the militiamen's hideouts. Rwandan radio on Thursday reported over 4,000 people had returned home from the Virunga mountains where they were "collaborating with infiltrators to destabilise peace and security". The Rwanda News Agency, quoting officials in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, also reported on Thursday that as many as 50,000 people may have returned to the northwestern regions over the last month.

BURUNDI: Nyerere threatens to quit as mediator if Buyoya not recognised

Burundi peace mediator Julius Nyerere has threatened to resign if the conflicting sides refuse to recognise the authority of President Pierre Buyoya, the Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily reported. "Major Buyoya may be an illegitimate president but the fact remains that he is the current president in power," Nyerere was quoted as saying. "If they say they don't recognise him, it will be foolishness. I will then pack my things and call it quits as I would have no work left to do." He said "recognition of Major Buyoya's influence" was a precondition for the Burundi peace talks which are due to resume in Arusha on 15 June, the newspaper reported.

SUDAN: Rebels atttack government militia near Ethiopian border

A statement issued by the opposition Voice of Sudan radio said forces of the National Democratic Alliance had "inflicted heavy loss of life" in an attack on Sudanese government militias based at Khatir on the border with Ethiopia. According to the radio, monitored by the BBC, the attack occurred on Sunday morning, after an earlier offensive on the same camp last month. A number of weapons were also captured. The NDA appealed to citizens to "keep away from the military operational areas to safeguard their lives and property".

TANZANIA: OCHA urges funds for flood victims

OCHA-Geneva has appealed for funds to assist flood victims in the Dar es Salaam area. It says several days of uninterrupted, torrential rain earlier this month has submerged hundreds of homes, washed away streets and destroyed bridges, cutting off several suburbs of the city.. About 4,600 people have been made homeless, mostly in the Kinondoni, Dala and Temeke districts. They have been temporarily sheltered in public buildings and have been receiving food and medicine, but funds are required for building new homes as well as addressing the victims' immediate needs.

Nairobi, 26 May 1998, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Tue, 26 May 1998 18:04:26 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 424 for 26 May 98.5.26 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980526180215.22371A-://

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

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