IRIN Update 512 for 29 Sep 1998

IRIN Update 512 for 29 Sep 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. 512 Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 29 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chad confirms troops sent

Chad confirmed that it has sent some 1,000 soldiers to the DRC. In an official communique read on Chadian radio and television yesterday (Monday), the government said its military support to President Laurent-Desire Kabila was aimed at upholding "the principle of the inviolability of borders," AFP reported today (Tuesday). The statement said the troops had left Chad last week, but it did not specify where in the DRC they were deployed. DRC Minister Pierre-Victor Mpoyo told Reuters today that the Chadians would take part in a major counter-offensive to be launched "soon" in the east.

Ugandan troops deployed after border bombing

Conflicting information has emerged on the aerial bombing reported along the DRC-Uganda border on Sunday, news agencies said. A local official yesterday told AFP that the village of Bukaka in western Uganda had been bombed by DRC warplanes, without causing any damage or injuries. However, details subsequently provided to news agencies by Ugandan military sources left it unclear whether the aircraft was Congolese or Sudanese or if the bombs fell on the DRC or Ugandan side of the border. Ugandan troop reinforcements were deployed to the border area as a result of the bombing, news organisations reported today.

Meanwhile, a Ugandan aircraft carrying army officers has disappeared in eastern DRC, news agencies reported. The aircraft took off on Friday from Entebbe for rebel-held Bunia in Province Orientale, but did not reach its destination, the reports said. Among the army officers on board was Jet Mwebaze, the brother of Uganda's military chief-of-staff, James Kazini, AFP reported, adding that it was still unclear what had happened to the aircraft. Uganda's 'The Monitor' newspaper reported today that the plane was also carrying DRC rebels.

More reports of rights abuses

Economic activity has been brought almost to a standstill in South Kivu's capital, Bukavu, with growing food shortages and the steady impoverishment of the population reported, the group Source independante du Congo (SIC) said in a recent report. Because most humanitarian organisations left the area at the start of the crisis in August, refugees, displaced persons and other vulnerable groups have been abandoned, SIC said. Frequent house-to-house searches by rebel forces have terrorised residents and many killings and abductions of civilians, including children, have taken place in the city, it added. "Military power is in the hands of the Rwandan and Ugandan officers," the report said, adding that "Congolese officers who function as fronts are often poorly coordinated and incapable of intervening (to prevent abuses), especially when non-Congolese soldiers are involved."

Meanwhile, the Catholic freedom and justice committee in Kisangani, Province Orientale, said in a report that that city's population has been subjected to serious human rights abuses since early August. Summary executions, abductions and torture of civilians have been committed by

government and rebel forces, civil authorities and members of the population itself, the committee said.

Journalists released

Six journalists arrested in Kinshasa have been released on Monday on the "personal orders" of Kabila, AFP reported today, citing sources close to the journalists' families. AFP had earlier reported that seven journalists working for state radio had been arrested on 18 and 19 September, for the second time, on charges that they had formed a support committee for the rebels. It was unclear whether a seventh journalists was still being held.

Tshisekedi proposes peace plan

Etienne Tshisekedi, head of the opposition Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) has proposed that a government of national unity, accountable to the parliament, be set up for a two-year transition period, pending the holding of internationally-supervised free and democratic elections. As part of his proposed political solution to the DRC crisis, Tshisekedi said that an international peace-keeping force should be established, in conjunction with the orderly withdrawal of all foreign armies now in the DRC, and that monitoring mechanisms be set up in eastern border areas to prevent Rwandan and Ugandan rebel groups from using DRC territory. In a statement addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the international community, he said the proposed steps should be preceded by negotiations involving all significant DRC political forces, including Kabila's government and democratic non-armed and armed opposition groups.

EU envoy starts regional tour

The EU's special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, on Monday started a 12-day trip to several African countries in a bid to help resolve the DRC crisis, AFP reported today. He is scheduled to visit South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Angola and Rwanda. Ajello was last in the region between 4 and 13 September, AFP said.

RWANDA: Akayesu asks for forgiveness, maintains innocence

Former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, convicted of genocide by a UN tribunal earlier this month, asked for forgiveness yesterday when he appeared at a pre-sentencing hearing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Akayesu asked the court for pardon and expressed regret about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but maintained he was innocent. "I am asking for pardon... I regret what happened in Rwanda," Akayesu said, adding: "Although the decision of my guilt has already been taken, I am sure in my heart that I am not guilty."

Akayesu, 45, will be sentenced on Friday. The prosecution has requested life imprisonment. Formerly bourgmestre (district mayor) of Taba commune, he was convicted on 2 September on nine counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, including incitement to rape, torture and murder, after a 15-month trial. It was the first-ever judgement on the crime of genocide by an international court.

SUDAN: NPA says Yei hospital bombed again

Norwegian People's Aid said in a statement yesterday that a government warplane had bombed a hospital compound in the rebel-held town of Yei. NPA said the plane dropped cluster bombs and damaged the hospital's recovery ward, injuring one patient. There was no independent confirmation of the attack. NPA says the hospital, the only one in the town which is some 60 km from the border with Uganda, has been bombed four times since April 1997.

Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights

Ethiopian Airlines said today it would resume flights to Sudan next month, some two years after they were suspended following an assassination attack on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during an Organisation of African Unity summit in Addis Ababa. Political analysts said the decision indicated an improvement in relations between the Horn of Africa neighbours linked to Ethiopia's current dispute with Eritrea.

TANZANIA: Increase in AIDS cases reported

AIDS cases have increased on mainland Tanzania by 12 percent since 1996. News reports said Hamisi Mahigi, senior lecturer at the Morogoro-based Institute of Development Management, told an AIDS workshop at the weekend that the number of AIDS sufferers rose from 83,351 in 1996 to 97,625 this year. However, he warned that the actual figure could be much higher because most victims preferred to seek traditional treatment rather than going to hospitals. Mahigi said at least 450,000 people were thought to carry the HIV virus that causes AIDS, with heterosexual sex accounting for between 80 and 90 percent of the spread of the virus.

EAST AFRICA: US indicts bombing suspects

US Federal authorities in New York yesterday indicted two men for last month's bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Both men were arrested in Kenya in mid-August and are in custody in New York. News reports said the indictment, filed in Manhattan, places one of the men, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al'Owhali, as a passenger in the truck that brought a powerful, homemade bomb to the US embassy in Kenya on 7 August. That blast killed at least 250 people, 12 of them Americans, and injured thousands of others. Al'Owhali is said to be from Yemen. The second man, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, has admitted being trained in explosives at camps run by the international al-Qaeda network, which is believed to have organised the attacks. His role is more vague, but the indictment charges he was in Nairobi and participated in planning the bombings in both Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

REMINDER: Information exchange meeting

OCHA will hold another DRC information exchange meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am at OCHA premises opposite Gigiri complex. All welcome.

Nairobi, 29 September 1998 14:30 GMT


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or free subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 19:41:12 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 512 for 29 Sep 1998.9.29 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,