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IRIN Update No. 468 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 28 July 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila tells Rwandan troops to leave
President Laurent-Desire Kabila has ordered all Rwandan soldiers to leave the country's armed forces. A brief statement read out by a military commander over state television last yesterday (Monday) said the Rwandan troops - who played a key role in toppling ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko - were ordered to leave the armed forces with immediate effect. "Via these soldiers, he (Kabila) thanks the Rwandan people for the solidarity they have shown us up to now," the statement said. The statement also thanked the Congolese people for "tolerating and sheltering" the Rwandan troops. "With this, all foreign military presence in our country comes to end," the statement concluded.
Earlier this month, the DRC leader replaced his Rwandan army chief-of-staff James Kabare with Celestin Kifwa, a former Mobutu general from Kabila's home province of Katanga. And in a cabinet reshuffle in June, analysts say Kabila "demoted" Deogratias Bugera, the Tutsi former leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), by appointing him Minister of State in the president's office.
Relations between DRC and Rwanda are poor with Kigali accusing Kabila's army of not doing enough to contain the DRC-based Hutu-led rebellion. The Rwandan embassy in Kinshasa is staffed only by an attachee and a replacement for the ambassador, who left earlier this year, has yet to arrive.
RWANDA: Villagers flee after top rebel leader killed
Villagers are reportedly fleeing rebel strongholds in parts of Ruhengeri prefecture following the death last week of a prominent rebel leader, Rwandan radio said today (Tuesday). It claimed over 15,000 people had arrived at the Nyamutera commune administration premises, fleeing Giciye, Gatonde and Nyamutera communes where they had been "intimidated by infiltrators". News reports last week said Rwandan troops conducted a military sweep in the area, killing some 250 Hutu rebels including top commander Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Nkundiye.
ADB extends multi-million loan
The African Development Bank has given Rwanda a US $22 million loan towards its economic recovery programme, Reuters reported. The loan agreement is part of a larger, three-year reform programme co-financed by the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union. Reuters quoted ADB president Omar Kabbaj as saying the loan was aimed at increasing agricultural production, developing transport and telecommunications systems and restructuring the civil service and finance sectors. Last week, the Paris Club of creditor nations agreed to cut 67 percent of Rwanda's external debt.
BURUNDI: Dissident rebels say they will continue to fight
Dissident rebel groups have been distancing themselves from the peace talks underway in Arusha, OCHA-Burundi reports. Earlier this month, PALIPEHUTU issued a statement saying those present at the negotiations were not its legitimate representatives. The statement added that the rebel group would continue with its own battle for peace and security in the country. On 23 July, ULINA (Union pour la liberation nationale), a joint faction of dissident rebels, issued a communique stating that while they recognised the potential usefulness of mediated negotiations, they would not be bound by any accords signed in Arusha and consequently rebel activity would continue.
ICRC reopens office
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reopened an office in Burundi at the beginning of July after an absence of two years. ICRC had pulled out of the country after the killing of three international staff members in Cibitoke in June 1996. OCHA-Burundi says the organisation's objectives for the time being are to renew ties with the authorities with a view to the possibility of restarting activities. The dialogue will be resumed on the understanding that the investigation into the 1996 killings continues.
Confiscated church property to be returned
Education Minister Prospere Mpawenayo has said the government plans to return church property confiscated in the 1970s during the rule of Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, the All Africa News Agency reported. Among the property to be returned are many schools, and AANA says the move comes at a time when it is clear the government is financially unable to run the institutions. The property was confiscated under Bagaza because it was believed the Catholic Church was becoming too powerful. However AANA points out many of the schools are now old and badly maintained, and it is not clear whether the church will accept them.
SUDAN: WFP issues urgent appeal for help
WFP has issued an urgent appeal to the international donor community to increase its funding and "prevent all-out famine" in Sudan. In a news release yesterday, the UN agency said it needed extra funds to expand emergency food aid deliveries to victims of war and drought in south Sudan. It cited unofficial reports as saying up to 80 people were dying daily of malnutrition in Wau, capital of Bahr al-Ghazal state. WFP estimated costs until April 1999 at US $154.5 million and said pledges received so far amounted to 40 percent of the total.
SPLA accuses UN of inefficiency
Meanwhile, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army accused UN agencies operating in south Sudan of "maladministration and inefficiency" which had led to ineffective use of resources. SPLA representatives issued a statement in Nairobi to respond to claims by UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy that food aid had been stolen by both government and rebel troops. The statement accused Operation Lifeline Sudan of "maintaining a very large and expensive bureaucracy of expatriates and non-essential staff in Lokichokkio and Nairobi". "Unfortunately, rather than addressing such problems, UNICEF/OLS has chosen to divert attention to politics," the statement said. UNICEF/OLS yesterday described the allegations as "totally unfounded".
ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: Direct talks slated this weekend
Officials from Ethiopia and Eritrea are due to have face-to-face talks in Ougadougou, capital of Burkina Faso this weekend, according to various media reports. The talks, aimed at resolving their border dispute, will be mediated by OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim. According to the SAPA news agency, Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Wolde Tensae, during a visit to South Africa, said his country was "ready to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and then hold direct talks with Ethiopia".
UNITED NATIONS: "Open day" for journalists
The United Nations held an "open day" at its Gigiri headquarters today to try and raise awareness among both the international and local press of the activities of more than two dozen UN bodies which have either global, regional or country headquarters in Kenya. Representatives of some 24 UN organisations addressed the meeting which was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC). Tore Brevic, UNIC representative in Kenya, qualified the meeting a success and said he hoped such events would become a regular part of the UN's activities in the region.
Nairobi, 28 July 1998, 15:00 gmt
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Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 17:54:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 468 for 28 July 1998.7.28 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980728175313.7608Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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