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IRIN Update No. 520 Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 9 October 1998)
RWANDA: UN commission finds evidence of arms supplies to ex-FAR
The UN International Commission of Enquiry investigating arms flows in the Great Lakes region has found there is still significant organised support for the ex-FAR in the region, particularly in Kenya. In an interim report, received by IRIN, the Commission said it had investigated the trans-shipment of weapons from the Horn of Africa to the Great Lakes region via the Kakuma and Lokichokio refugee camps in Kenya. Rwandan exiles in Nairobi are also recruiting young men from the Lukole and Karagwe refugee camps in Tanzania "to open a new front in eastern Rwanda", the report quoted its sources as saying. The Commission further found evidence of arms trafficking from South Africa through Zimbabwe and Zambia, the scale of which appeared to exceed the present capacity of the governments concerned to control it.
The Commission said it had documentary evidence of "very close collaboration" between the ex-FAR and two Burundian rebel groups - CNDD/FDD and PALIPEHUTU/FNL. The report details instances of military coordination in the shipment of arms intended for use by the ex-FAR in and around Rwanda. The Commission also said it had been informed that two columns of ex-FAR participated in the attack on Bujumbura airport last December, which resulted in the massacre of some 200 civilians. "The fact that CNDD/FDD is not subject to any arms embargo therefore represents a loophole through which the ex-FAR...can acquire weapons and materiel in violation of the resolutions of the Security Council," the report notes.
The final report is due out next month, but the Commission says it is apparent that "signficant numbers" of ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia remain deeply hostile to the Rwandan government and "are still committed to its violent overthrow". Increasing evidence points to links between the ex-FAR, ex-FAZ and rebel groups from Burundi and Uganda. Investigation into reports of collaboration between the ex-FAR and UNITA is also underway.
Foreign POWs paraded in Goma
The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) yesterday (Thursday) paraded eight POWs to the press in Goma, Rwandan radio reported today (Friday). It said the eight included three Sudanese government soldiers, two rebels from Uganda's Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), two Interahamwe members and one Burundian CNDD rebel. They were reportedly captured during recent fighting in the town of Kalima, except for the Interahamwe who were taken prisoner after last month's attack on Goma by Mayi-Mayi warriors and Interahamwe militiamen.
Rwanda to release 10,000 genocide suspects
Rwanda said it was planning to release about 10,000 genocide suspects who have no files. Justice Minister Faustin Ntezilyayo, who made the announcement, said however that should any evidence be found, they would be rearrested and tried, Rwandan radio reported. Security council meetings will be held at prefecture level to brief the population.
EU envoy says "diplomatic game" underway in region
EU special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, has said Rwanda will not negotiate over its security interests, but is willing to discuss other aspects of the DRC crisis, AFP reported. Ajello, who is touring the region, made the comments after meeting Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame yesterday. He said the OAU and UN were studying the possibility of deploying a peacekeeping force in the DRC. Ajello added that DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila remained "very rigid" about not talking directly to the rebel RCD. "A diplomatic game is being carried out," Ajello said, according to AFP.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN mission to Kalemie, Uvira
A UN mission took place on Wednesday and Thursday to the Kalemie and Uvira areas of eastern DRC to assess the humanitarian situation of displaced people, including those arriving from the Vyura area of Katanga province. The mission confirmed the presence of some 6,000 displaced people in Kalemie, but additional findings were not immediately available. The assessment team was led by OCHA and included representatives of UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF as well as a UN security officer.
On Monday, 12 October, at 3 p.m., OCHA will host an information meeting on the mission. The meeting will be attended by the mission leader, Kevin Kennedy of OCHA's Emergency Liaison Branch. All interested parties are invited to attend. The meeting will take place at the OCHA compound opposite the UN Gigiri complex in Nairobi.
Price increases reported in Kinshasa
Increases in food and fuel prices and a falling currency value sparked a street demonstration and the closure of some shops in central Kinshasa on Wednesday, residents and local media said. The protests apparently targeted shop-owners from the Lebanese and Asian communities, l'Agence congolaise de presse (ACP) said yesterday. ACP said the Congolese franc on the black market went from 2.4 to the US dollar last week to 3.2 on Wednesday. The official rate is 1.8 francs to the dollar. About 12 merchants, mostly Lebanese, were detained by the police "for their own protection," ACP said.
A Kinshasa-based analyst told IRIN the latest price increases have brought further economic hardship and uncertainty for the city's population, coming at a time when people are struggling to pay education fees for the new school year amid continuing shortages of staple foods and concern over the evolution of the country's civil war.
Wamba-dia-Wamba visits Zambia - newspaper
RCD leader Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba was reportedly in Zambia this week for talks with President Frederick Chiluba. The independent 'The Post' newspaper quoted a government source as saying he was unable to confirm whether the rebel leader met with Chiluba, who heads SADC's peace process. Lusaka has meanwhile categorically denied news reports that RCD chiefs were in Zambia last week to discuss setting up rear bases in the country.
BURUNDI: Tanzania urged to lift sanctions
Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba today called on Tanzania to end its support for regional sanctions, saying that otherwise it would be problematic to continue the peace process in that country. Speaking to Reuters ahead of the Arusha talks which resume on Monday, Niyonsaba said if the embargo was not lifted "the [Burundian] government may not be able to continue with the peace process because the population will not allow it". He remarked that Burundi's relations with Tanzania were "improving gradually", but that to "continue the talks in a country that has imposed sanctions would be a problem".
SUDAN: SPLA extends ceasefire
The SPLA said yesterday it would extend the current ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal for another three months and said the truce would also apply to Western Upper Nile. OLS spokeswoman Gillian Wilcox welcomed the announcement. "Yes its good news. It means the people in Bahr al-Ghazal can get food and we can get on with our real business," she told IRIN. She said the current ceasefire, due to expire on 15 October, has held for three months with no serious violations. However, one humanitarian official said he believed the lack of military activity was weather-related. "The only thing we trust is the rains. I don't think having the ceasefire extended makes any difference to humanitarian operations." He added that even if the government formally accepts the truce, raids by what he described as Khartoum-backed militia would resume at the end of the raining season.
Khartoum claims it controls Juba-Torit road
Sudanese state radio said today that government forces have regained control of the road between Juba and Torit in Eastern Equatoria, which is not covered by the ceasefire. Reuters quoted the radio as saying that heavy losses had been inflicted on the SPLA, which Khartoum alleges are backed by Eritrea and Uganda. There has been no independent confirmation of the government's claim.
UGANDA: Army declares no-fly zones
The Ugandan army has banned aircraft from overflying Kampala and the industrial town of Jinga, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper has reported. The ban covers all commercial, charter and scheduled flights and came into effect this week. "There is growing violation of our airspace. This is a normal action taken for security reasons that bear in mind threats from [neighbouring] Sudan," Army Commander Jeje Odongo told the paper.
Nairobi, 9 October 1998, 14:25 gmt
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Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 17:14:38 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 520 for 9 Oct 1998.10.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.981009171255.7626Demail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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