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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. 437 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 13-15 June 1998)
BURUNDI: Peace talks begin in Arusha
All-party peace talks opened in Arusha, Tanzania today (Monday) as a new government announced over the weekend ushered in 11 opposition members. News reports said the key ministerial posts of defence, finance and justice remain unchanged. The reshuffled government, in which the post of prime minister has been scrapped, follows last week's appointment of two vice-presidents. First vice-president Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, a member of the opposition FRODEBU party, would be the legal successor to President Pierre Buyoya if his term were cut short.
Meanwhile, a faction of the main rebel group Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) has reiterated its refusal to observe a ceasefire for the duration of the talks. According to the 'EastAfrican' today, an aide to suspended leader Leonard Nyangoma said any ceasefire should be negotiated at the meeting. Regional leaders and Burundian delegations began arriving in Arusha yesterday. Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told Reuters representatives of the government, national assembly, the main UPRONA and FRODEBU parties, as well as members of civil society, were all in Arusha. President Buyoya arrived today, but CNDD's representation is still unclear.
Despite the sweeping government changes, FRODEBU maintains reform of the Tutsi-dominated army will be high on the agenda of the Arusha talks. "The army must be open to all ethnic groups," a senior official, Venerand Bakevyumusaya, told Reuters. The news agency commented that the meeting will also be a test for mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, accused of bias by the Burundi authorities. He has not set foot in Burundi since May 1996.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the weekend called for "a spirit of compromise, tolerance and reconciliation" at the talks. He urged the sides to "refrain from any action that could undermine the chances of reaching the sort of peaceful and stable settlement that is so necessary".
RWANDA: Growing food needs in northwest
A report by USAID, quoting local authorities, says there are an estimated 58,000 displaced people in northwest Gisenyi prefecture and 48,000 in Ruhengeri. According to the report, the Rwandan government has indicated it will be unable to provide for an increased and continued emergency response. The report points out WFP has begun transporting food aid into the region. The US embassy has intervened to allow monitoring of food deliveries in Gisenyi, the report said. It added that adequate monitoring is very difficult and negotiated on a daily basis. More and more people are emerging from hiding in the forests and therefore the need for assistance is growing.
Ex-FAR soldiers join army
Over 140 ex-FAR soldiers have been integrated into the Rwandan Patriotic Army after undergoing military re-education, the Rwandan News Agency reported on Friday. It said 141 ex-FAR members were inducted into the army at a ceremony in Mudende on Thursday. Commander Balthasar Ndengeyinka, in charge of the Kibuye-Gitarama military region and himself an ex-FAR fighter, told the ceremony the so-called "solidarity camps" were aimed at "providing a true civic education instead of the divisive ideology" of the former regime.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Archbishop concerned over attacks on religious communities
The archbiship of Kinshasa Cardinal Frederic Etsou Nzabi-Bamungwabai has expressed grave concern over recent attacks on religious communities in the capital. According to Gabonese radio, the attacks "are attributed to uniformed men who threaten and carry away all property and money belonging to the communities". The radio recalled an attack last week on a convent in the Kinshasa area of Ridimi in which a 22 year-old priest was killed by an armed group. In a bid to prevent crime, the radio said, the DRC military authorities have banned soldiers from moving around in uniform without permission.
Human rights report to be sent to DRC, Rwanda
UN spokesman Fred Eckard has said a report by the UN team that investigated alleged human rights violations in DRC earlier this year will be sent to the governments of Rwanda and DRC for their "advance information". The report will then be transmitted to the Security Council on 21 June, and will consequently be made public.
DRC representatives at the recent OAU meeting in Burkina Faso urged African countries to ignore the UN report, the Agence congolaise de presse (ACP) reported today. Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo, quoted by the agency, said the report should be regarded as a "valueless document" as the investigation was never completed. Kongolo also called for enforcing an OAU resolution on special assistance to countries hosting refugees.
UGANDA: UN official concerned over "brutalisation" of children
The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, has expressed shock and outrage over last week's killing of 80 students by rebels in western Uganda. The special representative said he was concerned over the plight of children in western and northern Uganda where rebel activities are rife. The continuing abuse and brutalisation of children was unacceptable, he said. The 'EastAfrican' today said Ugandan parliamentarians will this week demand an explanation from the government on how the rebels managed to carry out the attack without any military resistance.
The rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who have been blamed for the students' deaths after an attack on their school in Kichwamba, said their "sole aim" was to attack Ugandan army detachments in the area. In a press statement, received by IRIN today, they claimed they "successfully" attacked the Ugandan soldiers and "left with sophisticated weapons captured from the UPDF (Ugandan People's Defence Force). The statement added the ADF's aim is to "engage the enemy and oust the Tutsi-dominated regime from power".
Museveni defends himself on chat show
President Yoweri Museveni, fed up with two hours of criticism on a radio talk show, personally called up the station on Saturday to defend himself. Reuters said he delivered a 20-minute monologue, thanked listeners and then hung up. Responding to the criticism in the 'Your Parliament' programme, broadcast by the private Central Broadcasting Service, Museveni defended his controversial land bill, the presence of Rwandan minorities in Uganda and the suspension of political party activities.
SUDAN: Rebels again threaten Port Sudan-Khartoum road
Sudanese rebels are again threatening to cut the Port Sudan - Khartoum road. An attack east of Kassala last Wednesday by rebel forces inflicted "heavy losses in lives and equipment", according to rebel radio on Saturday, monitored by the BBC. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) claimed another town, Mabaan, in southern Blue Nile province was captured from government troops, which if confirmed, would mark the latest in a series of successful offensives in the area. Khartoum has an ongoing conscription programme that requires school leavers to do 12 - 18 months compulsory military service. Over 70 conscripts escaped a government training camp at Ailefoun on Friday, news agencies reported.
Oil reserves a force for "amalgamation"
Influential Sudanese leader Hassan al-Tourabi has said the construction of a 1,450 km pipeline, a refinery and other elements in a US $1.6 billion scheme to exploit Sudan's oil will mean "Sudan will become amalgamated. The country will fuse". Also quoted by the 'Financial Times' last week, former rebel leader Riak Machar said the oil revenue could be used to "redress imbalances and create confidence". An SPLA spokesman, quoted by AFP, said that the movement "could not be held responsible for the consequences" if oil workers in southern Sudan were caught up in the fighting.
Nairobi, 15 June 1998, 14:30 gmt
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Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 17:49:19 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 437 for 13-15 June 98.6.15 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980615174813.8651Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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