IRIN Update 519 for 8 Oct 1998

IRIN Update 519 for 8 Oct 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

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IRIN Update No. 519 Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 8 October 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Namibia denies holding Ugandan POWs

A Namibian defence official has denied press reports that Ugandan soldiers allegedly captured in fighting in western DRC are being held captive in Namibia. "There's absolutely no substance to such claims," he told IRIN today. "All prisoners of war captured in the DRC by allied forces are normally handed over to the DRC authorities."

Claims by a Ugandan parliamentarian that acting Army Chief-of-Staff Brigadier James Kazini and 1,500 Ugandan soldiers were being held a camp in Namibia's Kalahari desert were widely reported in the local press. Kazini however attended the funeral of his brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Jet Mwebaze, in Kampala on Tuesday.

The Paris-based 'Indian Ocean Newsletter' claimed in its 12 September edition that some 1,000 elite Ugandan soldiers, who were alleged to have participated in the fight for Kinshasa, had been trapped by allied forces in western DRC. Zimbabwe's official 'Herald' newspaper reported on 2 September that the US embassy in Harare was involved in negotiating safe-passage home for Ugandan and Rwandan units cornered at Inga Dam. A US State Department official confirmed to IRIN that talks had taken place. The Namibian defence official said the soldiers had been "trapped but not captured" and were repatriated.

Ugandan army chief says Kigali should probe "undisciplined" soldiers

Uganda's acting army chief-of-staff James Kazini has said Kigali should investigate charges that Rwandan troops are abusing local populations in rebel-held areas of eastern DRC, the independent Ugandan 'Monitor' newspaper reported. In a series of stories published on 6 and 7 October, the 'Monitor' said local Congolese populations have frequently accused the Rwandan soldiers of looting, rape and armed intimidation. Whereas Rwandan troops are regarded as "colonialists," the local population views the Ugandan soldiers as well-behaved, the newspaper said, adding that there was some evidence of "tension" between the Rwandan and Ugandan troops posted together in areas of eastern DRC.

Concern over Dungu refugees

UNHCR today expressed "serious concern" over reports that Sudanese refugees in the Dungu area of northeastern DRC were being forced back into southern Sudan by soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). In a statement received by IRIN, UNHCR said SPLA soldiers went through settlements sheltering some 41,000 Sudanese refugees near Dungu in Province Orientale on 3 October, telling the refugees to go home. "The security of refugee camps must be respected and refugees themselves allowed to decide when it is safe to return home," UNHCR director of refugee protection Dennis McNamara said in Geneva.

The statement also said SPLA soldiers had ransacked UNHCR's offices in Dungu and Doruma, where communications equipment and vehicles were stolen. It said "several thousand" Sudanese had already arrived in the Yambio area of southern Sudan from the DRC. Meanwhile, World Vision today quoted local authorities in Yambio as saying returnee women and children remained stranded at the Sudan-DRC border and were in need of transportation.

BURUNDI: UPRONA ousts leader, elects pro-Buyoya chairman

The main pro-Tutsi party, UPRONA, has elected a new chairman, ousting Charles Mukasi considered as a party hardliner. The new leader is Information Minister Luc Rukingama, a close supporter of President Pierre Buyoya. Speaking on Radio Umwizero in Bujumbura, Rukingama said he had been elected by more than 80 percent of UPRONA's central committee members. The decision meant an end to the "two-year paralysis" of the party, he added. However, Mukasi told the BBC's Kirundi service he had been prevented from attending the meeting and blamed "government pressure" for the changes. He said he and his supporters would continue to work "in accordance with ideals of UPRONA".

A regional analyst told IRIN the move was an attempt by President Buyoya, who is a member of UPRONA, to consolidate power ahead of the next round of Arusha talks on Monday. In this way Buyoya's position would be reinforced, and his ideas represented by both the party and the government. Mukasi has refused to take part in the Arusha process because he opposes negotiations with the mainly Hutu FRODEBU opposition party.

RWANDA: Akayesu appeals against verdict

The former mayor of Taba, Jean-Paul Akayesu, recently convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has appealed against the verdict, according to an ICTR press release. He has urged the Appeals Chamber to "substitute acquittal for the guilty verdict, or alternatively, to quash the guilty verdict and order a retrial". He claims he was denied the right to be defended by a lawyer of his own choice and accuses the court of bias. The prosecution has also appealed against not-guilty verdicts passed down on various counts.

SUDAN: More recruits needed to defeat rebels

Sudan's Defence Minister Ibrahim Suleiman said 50,000 volunteers were needed to defeat southern rebels and their alleged foreign backers, local papers reported today. Suleiman told the National Assembly that a general mobilisation declared last week must continue. He said the army needed more men and money to crush what he said was a Ugandan and Eritrean-backed SPLA offensive.

Nairobi, 8 October 1998, 13:30 gmt


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Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 16:33:05 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 519 for 8 Oct 1998.10.8 Message-ID: <>

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

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