IRIN Update 676 for 21 May [19990521]

IRIN Update 676 for 21 May [19990521]

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. 676 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 21 May 1999)

RWANDA: ICTR sentences two genocide suspects

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Friday sentenced two genocide suspects - bringing to five the number of convictions since it began operating four years ago. The Hirondelle news agency reported that Clement Kayishema, 45, the former governor of Kibuye prefecture, received life imprisonment and Obed Ruzindana, 37, a businessman from Kibuye, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. Both were found guilty of genocide crimes.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government claims capture of rebel-held towns

The allied forces claim they have recaptured four rebel-held towns, according to state television on Thursday. It said Kalemie in Katanga province, Businga in Equateur, Kabambare in Maniema and Baraka in South Kivu were under government control. President Laurent-Desire Kabila was reportedly on a visit to Kalemie, the television added, saying the rebel troops had "lost many men and abandoned large quantities of weapons". Kabila was due to chair a cabinet meeting in the Katangese capital, Lubumbashi, on Friday.

Claims denied by local sources

However, humanitarian sources in South Kivu on Friday denied that Kalemie and Baraka had fallen. They dismissed the claims as "rubbish", saying Kabila was trying to improve his image in Kinshasa and "take advantage" of the troubles within the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). The sources further told IRIN that people were travelling freely by boat to Baraka and Kalemie, which discounted government claims that it was in control.

12 killed in Mayi-Mayi attacks

Meanwhile, Mayi-Mayi attacks against civilian populations in the Hauts Plateaux area of South Kivu have claimed 12 lives, sources in the region told IRIN on Friday. Ten civilians were reportedly killed in an attack on the village of Rubarati about two weeks ago, while two people lost their lives in Kirumba. The sources believed the attackers were Mayi-Mayi elements opposed to reconciliation meetings currently underway between different ethnic groups in South Kivu.

400 convicts freed in Lubumbashi

State television also reported that 400 jailed soldiers and policemen were set free in Lubumbashi on Tuesday, following a presidential pardon. The governor of Katanga, Augustin Kutumba Mwanke, called on the freed convicts to "observe discipline and serve the nation with devotion to the ultimate sacrifice". Associated Press quoted a military officer as saying the ex-convicts had been jailed for crimes such as theft or indiscipline.

BURUNDI: "Ethnicisation" of Arusha talks

Delegations to the peace talks underway in Arusha, Tanzania, have divided themselves into three groups along ethnic lines, Hirondelle news agency reported on Thursday. The "Moshi group" is made of predominantly Hutu parties, the "Group of Eight" brings together eight small, mainly Tutsi parties, while the "Partnership Group" is made up of representatives of the government, National Assembly, the ruling UPRONA party and the internal faction of the main opposition FRODEBU party. UPRONA representative Libere Bararunyeretse told Hirondelle there was a risk the negotiations would turn into an "ethnic confrontation". "When people from the same ethnic group join together, it's the most extreme person who takes control," he warned. However Jean Minani, leader of the exiled FRODEBU faction, claimed the groups allowed people with the same ideas to present their views jointly.

UGANDA: Another bank closed

The Central Bank has closed another bank, declaring it insolvent. Central Bank governor Nyonyintono Kikonyogo blamed the closure of the Cooperative Bank, one of Uganda's largest, on the failure of Ugandans to pay back debts and on a "culture of theft", the BBC reported. It added that rural Ugandans would be especially hard hit, as the bank had 30 branches around the country. The closure follows that of the Greeland Bank which was declared insolvent last month. Meanwhile, seven Greenland Bank officials are currently stranded in Tanzania after the authorities impounded their passports. The semi-official 'New Vision' daily quoted a Ugandan Central Bank spokesman as saying there could have been some problems with the Central Bank of Tanzania.

Nine ADF rebels killed

The Ugandan army on Tuesday killed nine rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) as they tried to escape an offensive in the Ruwenzori mountains and cross back into DRC, the 'New Vision' reported. The rebels were said to be part of a group fleeing the Semliki National Park into eastern DRC following an "intensive search" by the army, residents and local defence units.

KENYA: Tension grips Moyale as landmine experts arrive

The northeastern Kenyan town of Moyale was reported tense on Thursday as landmine experts and a contingent of about 2,000 heavily armed soldiers arrived to defuse landmines and guard security in the area, local press reports said on Friday. The move follows repeated insecurity over the past two weeks which culminated in several mine blasts in which one person was killed and 10 injured. Provincial Commissioner Nicolas Mberia was quoted as saying the planting of landmines on the highway would force businessmen to withdraw their lorries from ferrying food to Moyale from Nairobi.

Ethiopian diplomats meanwhile have denied allegations that Addis Ababa is responsible, saying rather that the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) could be responsible and then try and put the blame on the Ethiopian authorities.

Malaria alert as cases rise in Mombasa

Four major hospitals in Kenya's coastal province have issued a malaria alert following a steady rise in cases of the disease reported in the coastal town of Mombasa. The chairman of the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) Mombasa branch, Alfred Odhiambo, expressed concern about the rise in malaria cases in the town, which he attributed to the rainy season. "During this season, the situation usually worsens. But what is happening now is terrible," he said, according to the 'Daily Nation'.

Nairobi, 21 May 1999, 13:50 gmt


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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