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IRIN Update No. 475 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 6 August 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Fighting spreads as rebels make further gains
Uvira reportedly fell to the rebels today (Thursday), and fighting continued in DRC's third city Kisangani. In western DRC, the town of Muanda and the naval base of Banana were also said to be in rebel hands. Three planeloads of Rwandan soldiers had landed at the nearby military base of Kitona, according to Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji. Human rights organisations expressed concern over the persecution of Banyamulenge and other ethnic Tutsis in Kinshasa, and diplomatic sources told IRIN the authorities had voiced doubt over their ability to protect Tutsis in the city.
Meanwhile, former foreign minister Bizima Karaha was today appointed deputy leader of the rebel group seeking to oust President Laurent-Desire Kabila, Rwandan radio reported. Opposition politician Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma was yesterday named to head the rebel movement. [For more details, refer to two separate IRIN items filed today headlined respectively "Fighting in Kisangani, Uvira under rebel control" and "Fighting spreads, Karaha appointed rebellion's deputy leader"].
Rebel leaders meet in Bukavu
Rebel leaders met in Bukavu today after which the movement's spokesman Maitre Mudumbi explained the rebellion was aimed at "correcting Kabila's mistakes and uniting the Congolese people". The Rwanda News Agency said he told local radio 'Maendeleo' the meeting comprised political, military and civil society representatives from Kindu, Goma, Bukavu and "other liberated regions". The rebel movement had not yet selected its headquarters, he said, but would do so soon. He denied the rebellion was aimed at "annexing parts of Congo to a country".
"Prepare for long war" Kabila says
In his first comments since the rebellion started, Kabila told the Congolese people to "prepare for a long war". At a news conference in Kinshasa, he accused Rwanda of waging war against his country. He said he would ask Rwanda at a weekend summit in Zimbabwe to withdraw its troops, Reuters reported.
Uganda says it has no role in the rebellion
President Yoweri Museveni's press secretary Hope Kivengere said she could not confirm the Ugandan leader's attendance at the regional summit on the DRC to be held in Zimbabwe over the weekend. She told IRIN that Museveni was currently in Kasese to assess the security situation in the western region. She said that Kampala was "very concerned" about developments in the DRC and denied that Uganda was involved in the rebellion. Kivengere said that Kampala was "not disappointed" with Kabila's cooperation to stamp out Ugandan rebel bases in DRC's eastern region. She expressed appreciation regarding the difficulty in bringing a country as vast as the DRC under control.
Banyamulenge soldiers flee to Zambia
More than 100 Banyamulenge soldiers have fled into Zambia to escape the fighting in the DRC, Zambian Defence Minister Chitalu Sampa said today. He told the South African news agency SAPA that the soldiers had arrived in Zambia on Tuesday night. They were disarmed and are being held at various police stations on the Copperbelt. SAPA quoted the Banyamulenge commander, Captain Jerome Tambwa, as saying they ran for the border when four of his men were killed and six had their eyes gouged out by Congolese troops. "We feared more retributions from other Congolese nationals."
He said the fighting in eastern DRC was sparked by discriminatory promotions based on ethnicity. "We felt marginalised," he added. One of his men, speaking through an interpreter in Kitwe, said they would appeal to the Zambian government to send them to Rwanda.
RWANDA: Former judge sentenced to death for genocide
A former judge has been sentenced to death for genocide and crimes against humanity by a court in Gitarama, central Rwanda, state radio said today. Josephine Mukanyangezi was accused of killings in the Kigali commune of Kicukiro. She is the sister of genocide suspect Obed Ruzindana who is under detention in Arusha.
Genocide survivors protest
State radio reported that some 200 genocide survivors demonstrated in the southern province of Butare yesterday over the release of genocide suspect Haji Rwicaninyoni Ibrahim. The protestors, some of whom had given testimonies in the case, marched to the office of the public prosecutor who had released Ibrahim on grounds of insufficient evidence.
ICTR expects first judgements soon
The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Judge Laity Kama said the tribunal would render its first judgements in "the very near future". Speaking at a press conference in New York yesterday, Kama said among the cases coming to a close are those of Jean-Paul Akeyesu a former mayor, and ex-prime minster Jean Kambanda.
SUDAN: Peace talks make little progress
Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa entered their third day today with little progress made, news reports said. According to Sudanese state radio negotiators have failed to agree on the key issues of the nature of the state and role of religion, and these were dropped to keep the talks alive. They also failed to agree on the definition of the south. For the government it represents the territory demarcated at independence in 1956. The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) wants the "south" to encompass all areas where black Africans reside, including the central Nuba mountains.
Meanwhile, the SPLA accused the government of bombing several villages in the Nuba mountains on Tuesday. An SPLA spokesman said three people were killed and six wounded in the air raid.
Nairobi, 6 August 1998, 17:30 gmt
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Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 20:35:32 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 475 for 6 Aug 1998.8.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980806203441.28820Dfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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