IRIN Update 443 for 23 June 1998.6.23

IRIN Update 443 for 23 June 1998.6.23

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. 443 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 23 June 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Museveni and Kagame yet to confirm COMESA attendance

As ministers from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries gather in Kinshasa this week to prepare for next week's 29-30 June summit, local media reports say Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame have still not confirmed their attendance. This has raised fears the two leaders, previously close allies of DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, will once again boycott a regional gathering in Kinshasa. Both Kagame and Museveni are reportedly displeased with the DRC army's handling of the security situation in the volatile eastern part of the country. Meanwhile, other delegations have arrived in Kinshasa ahead of the summit.

Diplomatic sources told IRIN today (Tuesday) an invitation had been sent directly to Kagame from the DRC government and it was thought he would attend. "It's time to put the political wrangling behind us otherwise it, just damages the sub-region," a well-placed Rwandan source said.

Diplomats in the DRC capital said that although the COMESA summit differed from a regional security summit proposed by DRC in May, in terms of attendance it was still of enormous significance for the DRC leadership's credibility. The COMESA meeting is intended to coincide with the launch by Kabila of a new Congolese Franc and independence festivities on 30 June.

WHO details number of river blindness sufferers

WHO says over 18 million people out of a population of more than 48.5 million are exposed to river blindness in DRC. Of these 41,990 are completely blind and some 5.2 million are infected. The most severely affected areas are the provinces of Kasai, Bas Congo, Equateur, and Province Orientale where the inhabitants of entire villages are blind.

WHO warns the disease threatens to slow down socio-economic activity in rural communities where it has taken hold. According to a WHO report, the situation is worsening because no systematic action has been taken to combat the disease and also because living conditions are not improving.

Meanwhile, a cholera epidemic in four provinces is not as "dramatic" as earlier in the year, WHO said. The epidemic has been contained in Katanga province, although there is still some concern over the situation in North and South Kivu and in Province Orientale, it added.

UN rights report to be published on 29 June

A UN human rights report on DRC is to be published on 29 June, the spokesman of the Secretary-General said yesterday (Monday). Fred Eckhard told the daily news briefing in New York Atsu-Koffi Amega, head of the team which drew up the report, had been asked to come to headquarters just ahead of the release date and arrangements were in hand for him to be at the briefing on 29 June. On that same day, the Security Council was expected to get its copy and probably would receive on the same day commentaries from the governments of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda - both of which had been given advance copies of the report. The report would not be changed in any way as a result of their review of it, Eckhard added.

BURUNDI: Annan welcomes Arusha deal

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the weekend deal at all-party peace talks in Arusha on a "suspension of hostilities" in Burundi. A statement issued by the UN's New York headquarters said the deal had generated hope in the peace process and congratulated all participants at the talks mediated by ex-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere.

"The Secretary-General urges all the parties and signatories to the Arusha declaration of 21 June to strictly and fully implement their commitment to a cessation of hostilities with a view to establishing a favourable environment for the substantive negotiations scheduled to commence on 20 July at Arusha," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Burundi called yesterday for sanctions against the country to be lifted. AFP reported that Communications Minister and government spokesman Luc Rukingama had deplored the fact the Arusha accord made no mention of lifting the sanctions, which he described as an "essential" part of the week-long negotiations in Arusha. "The economic sanctions should be lifted rapidly for reasons of coherence and honesty," he was quoted as saying.

In a separate development, Reuters quoted a senior Burundi army official as saying his troops would continue normal military operations against Hutu rebels despite the Arusha deal. "We don't agree to the truce," Lieutenant-Colonel Longin Minani was quoted as telling the news agency by telephone. "The Burundi government cannot declare a truce because it is not attacking anybody. Our job is to protect the population and we will continue doing that."

RWANDA: Priests call for Church probe of genocide

Rwanda priests have called for the creation of an independent commission to examine the role played by clergymen in the 1994 genocide, the private Rwandan news agency ARI reported at the weekend. In a statement issued at the end of a APRERWA (Assemblee de pretres rwandais) meeting, the priests recommended that a Church commission examine the alleged role of priests and other clergymen in the genocide. The priests want clergymen suspected to have participated in the genocide to be charged and if found guilty, be punished according to the "ecclesiastic penal code".

Rwanda genocide survivors demand death penalty against rebels

Meanwhile, an organisation of genocide survivors wants captured Hutu rebels to be sentenced to death "to discourage people from collaborating with them," AFP reported. It said the organisation argued this would prompt a positive response, like the April public execution of 22 people found guilty of genocide, which made other detainees on similar charges confess.

School bus attack leaves 18 dead, 40 wounded in Rwanda

An attack on a school bus in western Rwanda left 18 dead and 40 wounded, mostly children, AFP reported today. Quoting "several sources", it said the attack occurred on Monday afternoon in Kivumu on the road to Kibuye town about 100 km west of Kigali. AFP reported a district official as confirming the attack. "The school bus was attacked carrying children and adults, but mainly children, which explains why they are a majority among the wounded," he was quoted as saying.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Annan recommends extension of MINURCA's mandate

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended the extension to 15 September 1998 of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic (MINURCA), his spokesman Fred Eckhard said yesterday. Annan also said that if the necessary preparations for elections were made before the mandate expired, he would be prepared to submit detailed recommendations to the Security Council on possible UN involvement in the electoral process. MINURCA which is assisting in maintaining security in Bangui and its surroundings, is providing technical assistance to national election bodies.

KENYA: US trade mission to Africa

US Commerce Secretary William Daley will lead an eight-day business development mission to Kenya, Ivory Coast and South Africa accompanied by 30 executives to promote US trade and investment in Africa, the US embassy in Nairobi told IRIN. The embassy quoted Daley as saying the three countries were chosen "because they very much want to attract foreign investment and trade."

Daley says Kenya now hosts 75 American companies who have business interests in the East African region."Kenya has become a strong market for American goods and services. Our exports to Kenya jumped from around $100 million in 1996 to $225 million last year," he was quoted as telling an audience of congressmen, ambassadors and business executives in Washington on Thursday.

UGANDA: Abducted children released

Three children, abducted by Ugandan rebels operating in the north of the country, were released at the weekend and handed over to the United Nations in Khartoum. The Sudanese government secured their release after a three-day visit to Sudan by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict Olara Otunnu. Arrangements are being made to return the children to Uganda.

Nairobi, 23 June 1998 15:30 GMT


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Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 19:20:37 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 443 for 23 June 1998.6.23 Message-ID: <>

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

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