IRIN Update 462 for 20 July 1998.7.20

IRIN Update 462 for 20 July 1998.7.20

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. 462 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 20 July 1998)

BURUNDI: Peace talks reportedly delayed by one day

Seventeen sides, including the Burundi government, who were due to meet again in Arusha today (Monday), have postponed discussions until tomorrow, AP reported, citing a source at the talks. The postponement was reportedly to give participants more time to study the rules of procedure.

The first round of talks was held last month in a bid to resolve the ongoing conflict in Burundi. According to Mark Bomani, the chief adviser to the facilitator Julius Nyerere, the agenda this time consists of a general discussion on the situation, approving the rules of procedure and appointing members of five working committees which were created at the last Arusha talks. Burundi Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told Burundi radio on Friday the government no longer had reservations about Arusha as a venue for the talks. He added that the government wanted to discuss general aspects of the negotiations, modalities of the discussions, the lifting of sanctions and the cessation of hostilities. [For further information see IRIN Background Brief to the Arusha talks (2) of 17 July 1998]

National Assembly Speaker Leonce Ngendakumana said a parliamentary delegation had gone to Arusha. He said the new enlarged Transitional National Assembly, which was inaugurated last week, would "play the role of counsellor for the negotiators and mediators" so that the results of the talks would be "progressive rather than retrogressive". According to Burundi radio, he warned that if the political objectives were not accompanied by real initiatives then "all the objectives will have been pointless".

Meanwhile, the parties represented in Arusha yesterday (Sunday) issued a statement ahead of today's talks. The statement, broadcast by Burundi radio, stressed the need to find a "lasting peaceful solution through dialogue". "We therefore reiterate our commitment to pursue full negotiations until a peace agreement is concluded," the statement said, adding that sanctions and continuing hostilities were an obstacle to the peace process. Two parties, the Tutsi-dominated PARENA and RADDES, did not sign the document, according to the radio.

RWANDA: ICTR prosecutor visits, says proceedings "picking up"

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Louise Arbour, is on a visit to Rwanda to discuss court proceedings, Rwandan radio reported today. In comments broadcast by the radio, she expressed disappointment that the proceedings had taken so long. "I think the judges have decided to give the defence full opportunity to present their case," she said. However, the first defendant Jean-Paul Akayesu would soon be sentenced, as would ex-premier Jean Kambanda who had pleaded guilty to genocide crimes. "I think now the tribunal is getting better established and the pace is starting to pick up a bit," she said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Opposition supporters released

Some 11 supporters of DRC opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi have been freed from detention, Reuters reported released detainees and members of his Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) party as saying on Sunday. But the same sources added that more than 40 other supporters, arrested outside their leader's Kinshasa residence, remained in jail,. Most were arrested last week in a renewed government crackdown on the UDPS which came only days after Tshisekedi's return to the capital after five months of internal exile.

New franc "saboteurs" could face death - DRC authorities

DRC authorities have announced that "saboteurs of the new Congolese franc, launched on 30 June, would be tried by a military tribunal and could face the death penalty, Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo+ told state television after an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday. Reuters reported him as saying informal money changers should set up "bureaux de change" without delay. "From today, anyone sabotaging the monetary reform and not conforming to the instructions and rules relating to the currency will, exceptionally, simply be tried by the military tribunal, which will apply the harshest penalties, notably the death sentence, which would be justice done," he was quoted as saying.

UGANDA-DRC: More refugees repatriated

UNHCR in Kampala told IRIN today it had now repatriated some 7,900 DRC refugees back home from Uganda. Spokesperson Niino Tomoko said most of those had come from Kyaka II refugee camp in western Uganda and had voluntarily returned to Kamango, situated in an enclave between Uganda and the Virunga park in North Kivu, in eastern DRC. She said there remained about 1,000 others who remained to be repatriated "probably at the end of this month or early in August". The repatriation has gone slowly, but smoothly due largely to bad weather and road conditions. The programme began last April though it was briefly suspended from mid-May until early June.

SUDAN: WFP welcomes safe return of agency workers

WFP has welcomed the safe return to Kenya of two of their aid workers after they were evacuated from Leer, Western Upper Nile province in southern Sudan on Friday following a militia attack. The two, Ahmed Ismael and Asaka Nyangara, returned to Nairobi on Saturday. A WFP statement, received by IRIN, said the two men had been forced to run for their lives and wade chest-high through mosquito-infested swamps on the Thursday evening when they had first received word of a band of armed militia approaching Leer where they had been distributing food supplies to the needy.

Nairobi, 20 July 1998 14:30 GMT


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From Mon Jul 20 11:19:52 1998 Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 462 for 20 July 1998.7.20

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

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