UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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. 448 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 30 June 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila attacks "unfair" UN report
President Laurent-Desire Kabila has slammed a UN report on alleged human rights abuses, due to be handed to the Security Council today (Tuesday), as "full of lies and untrue statements". Speaking at the formal opening yesterday (Monday) of the annual conference of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Kabila appealed to the "entire African continent to reject with indignation and disgust" the report the UN is preparing to publish "on the so-called massacres perpetrated in the eastern part of our country".
The report, which was originally scheduled to be released yesterday, was compiled by a team of human rights experts who spent months in the country earlier this year before being withdrawn in April after acrimonious disputes with the government. The UN alleged numerous obstacles had been placed in its way by the government deliberately to hinder it from fulfilling its mandate. (IRIN Update 449 on Wednesday 1 July will carry key extracts from the report and the official responses of the DRC and Rwandan governments)
Chiluba calls for debt cancellation for COMESA members
Current COMESA chairman President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia called in his opening address for a debt cancellation for COMESA member states. Speaking in the DRC capital Kinshasa Chiluba said it was estimated that the total debt stock for the COMESA countries in 1996 was US $120 billion. "It's now universally accepted that without debt forgiveness, there is no way developing countries will be able to service their debts while at the same time have resources to invest in infrastructure," he said. Established in 1994, the COMESA is a regional grouping of 20 African states which have agreed to promote regional integration through trade development and common markets.
US expels three DRC diplomats
The US has ordered three of seven UN-accredited diplomats from DRC to leave New York because of debts incurred under the former government of Mobutu Sese Seko, Reuters quoted a US government official as saying on Monday. In turn, Congo's ambassador Andre Kapanga said that his government owed nothing since his new team came to New York last year and had promised to do its best to clear up the large debts left by Mobutu.
EU envoy's wife shot
Car thieves shot and wounded the wife of a senior European diplomat in Kinshasa on Friday night, news agencies reported. Helga Krebs, whose German husband Joachem has just finished a four-year tour as ambassador of the European Union, was wounded in the left leg. Diplomats said she was taken to a clinic and her life was not in danger. "Armed men in a mixture of uniforms and in civilian clothes held up the car and pulled Mrs Krebs out. They stole jewellery and watches from both the ambassador and his wife and made off with the car after shooting her in the left leg," a diplomatic source told Reuters.
BURUNDI: Army says 50 killed in weekend fighting
Burundi army officials said today that 50 people had been killed in heavy fighting between government and rebel troops at the weekend, three weeks away from a promised truce. Reuters reported army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mamert Sinarinzi as saying 49 rebels and one soldier were killed on Saturday during an army attack on a rebel position near Kiderege, about 95 km south of the capital Bujumbura. More than a dozen Burundian factions signed an agreement at all-party talks in Arusha earlier this month promising a truce ahead of a second round of talks on 20 July.
A western diplomat close to the Burundi peace process told IRIN today that he expected "a lot of jockeying for position" before the July 20 cessation of hostilities deadline. "They still have a few more weeks" he said, and that it was "too soon to say" if the Arusha deal was in trouble. Fighting around Bujumbura was reported even during the weekend when the Arusha talks closed, he added.
UGANDA: Army rescues abducted school girls
The Ugandan army has rescued 29 of the 39 school girls abducted by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels nine days ago in northern Kitgum district. Army spokesman Captain Bantariza Shaban told IRIN today the girls were rescued on Sunday after combat with the rebels. "I am sure we shall find we rescued more of the girls because they scattered into the bush during our attack," he said. UNICEF representative in Uganda Michel Sidibe last week condemned the LRA "for callously targeting children".
Civil leaders appeal for dialogue with rebels
Religious and civic leaders ended a three-day meeting in Uganda's northern town of Gulu today with an appeal President Yoweri Museveni to open up negotiations with rebels, AFP reported. The 130 religious leaders and civic officials recommended in a statement released on Monday that the Ugandan government should open up dialogue and reconciliation with the main rebel groups. The LRA are active in the north and the Allied Democratic Forces in the west. A third group, known as Uganda Rescue Front II, has recently become active in the northwest.
Museveni has ruled out talking to the rebel groups, but the law makers, church leaders and human rights groups who met in Gulu say government-rebels dialogue is vital. The president's press secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN civic leaders were free to talk to the rebels, but that the president would not be involved.
UNITED NATIONS: Impact of armed conflict on children draws UN concern
The UN Security Council on Monday condemned the targeting of children in armed conflicts and asked all states to prosecute those responsible for "grave breaches of international humanitarian law". After a day-long meeting on the issue, the Security Council said in a statement it intended to pay serious attention to the situation of children affected by armed conflicts by maintaining contact with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu. During his briefing to the Security Council, Otunnu said that an estimated quarter of a million children were serving in armed conflicts in some 50 countries and called for an end to "that abomination".
The UN said it would consider suitable responses whenever buildings or sites that usually have a significant number of children were specifically targeted. The Security Council said it would also support efforts to obtain commitments to stop the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, and give special consideration to the disarmament and demobilisation of child soldiers. It said it would also support child-focused mine clearance and mine-awareness programmes.
TANZANIA: Donors grant funds for road repairs
Donors are to grant Tanzania some US $53.6 million to finance repair of major roads and bridges in various parts of the country, press reports said today. The World Bank will disburse some US $39.9 million as its general contribution and another US $11.7 million for emergency rehabilitation of major roads, the 'Guardian' newspaper reported. Much of Tanzania's transport infrastructure was severely damaged by the recent exceptionally-heavy 'El Nino' rains.
Nairobi, 30 June 1998 14:30 GMT
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Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 18:03:46 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 448 for 30 June 1998.6.30 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980630180312.31244Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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