IRIN Update 506 for 19-21 September 1998

IRIN Update 506 for 19-21 September 1998

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 Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 506 Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday 19 - Monday 21 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: SADC peace team meet Rwandan and Ugandan leaders

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba and President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania travelled to Uganda and Rwanda over the weekend to hold talks with the leaders of the two countries as part of Southern African Development Community (SADC) efforts to resolve the DRC conflict. Upon his return to Zambia yesterday (Sunday), Chiluba said the Ugandan and Rwandan leaders had agreed to the details of withdrawing troops from combat areas in the DRC, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported. The Zambian and Tanzanian presidents met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe on Saturday and with Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame on Sunday. Few details have emerged about the meetings, but SAPA quoted Chiluba as saying that he would brief regional leaders on the outcome of the talks at a SADC summit to be convened soon.

In a speech given on Saturday in the border-town of Cyangugu, Kagame said the Rwandan government was prepared to counter any attack from the DRC, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Museveni said yesterday he was optimistic regional leaders would soon end the DRC conflict. Museveni was speaking on a question-and-answer programme broadcast live on BBC.

Control of Isiro disputed

Rebels on Friday told AFP that they had captured Isiro in Province Orientale. But DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi on Saturday said government forces retained control of the town after they repulsed an attack by Ugandan forces, news agencies reported. Uganda has denied having troops in the Isiro area. Meanwhile, airport sources told the Associated Press that five government warplanes had taken off from Kinshasa's airport on Friday to launch an offensive against rebel-held positions in the east while state media warned Kinshasa residents that an unidentified "armed group" was planning to attack the capital from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

Kabila visits Libya

President Laurent-Desire Kabila flew to Libya on Friday, defying a UN air embargo on the country and held discussions with Moammar Kadhafi, news agencies reported. DRC rebels last week accused Libya of financing the dispatch of Sudanese troops to Kindu. Meanwhile, French RFI radio reported that a Chadian newspaper, 'L'Observateur', carried a story claiming that over 1,000 Chadian troops had been sent to the DRC to support Kabila. President Idriss

Deby of Chad had pledged his "unconditional support" during Kabila's visit to the country on 11 September.

Kinshasa-Brazzaville river traffic open for WFP barges

WFP has started delivering relief food from Brazzaville to Kinshasa by barge, with 190 mt transported on Thursday. The suspension of river traffic between the two cities had led WFP to send food to Kinshasa by air from Pointe-Noire, for distribution to vulnerable groups. A total of 200 mt was airlifted to Kinshasa between 10 and 17 September.

Journalists arrested in Kinshasa

Security authorities on Friday and Saturday arrested seven journalists working for official state radio in Kinshasa, on charges that they had formed a support committee for the rebels, AFP reported today. The same journalists were arrested last week but were released after the intervention of DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi, it added.

Conflict hurting Uganda-Zimbabwe aviation cooperation

Long-standing cooperation between Uganda and Zimbabwe in the field of civil aviation is under threat because of the two countries' opposing stances in the DRC conflict, the weekly 'EastAfrican' newspaper reported today (Monday). The 'EastAfrican' said that Zimbabwean authorities have refused to extend a lease agreement for an aircraft used by Ugandan Airlines. Zimbabwean authorities suspect that the Boeing 737 aircraft - one of only two aircraft operated by Ugandan Airways - has been used to ferry military supplies to anti-Kabila rebels in the DRC, the newspaper reported, adding that the conflict is also threatening plans to launch joint Ugandan Airlines/Air Zimbabwe flights to Dubai.

SUDAN: Eritrean refugee camp shelled in bombardment of eastern Sudan

Two children were killed and 12 injured when a refugee camp in Sudan's Kassala State was shelled on Friday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. A statement issued today said a Red Crescent medical officer was among the wounded. The Federation said that the Wad Sherifai camp, 20 km from Kassala, was previously shelled in June, resulting in the death of one person. Since January at least 55,000 people are thought to have moved from their villages in the area, along Sudan's eastern border with Eritrea, due to insecurity in the area. It is a zone of conflict between Sudanese government forces and rebels operating with at least political support from Eritrea. An official Sudanese statement, monitored by the BBC, named five other locations shelled on Friday.

An ICRC team comprising a water and sanitation expert, a nurse and a relief delegate is currently conducting a survey in the Kassala region to assess the most urgent needs of victims of the floods in this part of eastern Sudan.

UGANDA: Army detains 15 in house-to-house sweep

The Ugandan army detained 15 people and retrieved guns and ammunition in a house-to-house search in Kampala over the weekend, news organisations reported today. A private radio station, 'Radio Simba', said the weekend operation was aimed at robbers and possible terrorists after last month's attacks on three buses in which 30 people were killed.

EAST AFRICA: More arrests over 7 August bomb blasts

A senior Ugandan official said on Saturday that police had arrested 18 people suspected of planning attacks on US and other foreign diplomatic missions as well as Ugandan government installations, the Associated Press reported. Last week, five diplomatic missions in Kampala were closed for several days after they received a series of threatening phone calls. US officials were quoted as saying the arrests dealt a major blow to a "terror network" run by Saudi Arabian millionaire Osama bin Laden in East Africa. The US maintains bin Laden's organisation was responsible for the 7 August attacks on US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi which killed more than 260 people and injured several thousand others.

Meanwhile, in Tanzania two men have been formally charged with murder in connection with the bombing of the Dar es Salaam embassy. The two - an Egyptian national named Mahmoud Said Ahmed and a Tanzanian man Rashid Saleh Hemed - were each charged with 11 counts of murder and remanded in custody. A US federal court has already indicted two other men for their part in the bombing of the Nairobi embassy.

Nairobi 21 September, 1998 14:30 gmt


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Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 18:03:55 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 506 for 19-21 September 1998.9.21 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,