CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 677 for 24 May [19990524

CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 677 for 24 May [19990524

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. 677 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 24 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Eight killed in Kisangani clash

Radio reports on Sunday said clashes in Kisangani between supporters of former rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, backed by Ugandan troops, and those of his successor Emile Ilunga left eight people dead. According to the first vice-president of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Jean-Pierre Ondekane, the incident would not cause any problems with Uganda. "The Ugandans have not come to help an individual, but to help the Congolese and they cannot plunge themselves into an adventure today," he told Radio France Internationale. "It was an incident and not a war against the Ugandans."

The reports said the incident was sparked by demonstrations organised by the provincial authorities in support of the new RCD authorities in Goma.

Province Orientale authorities reportedly suspended

Meanwhile, ousted RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba is reported to have said he is ready to meet President Laurent-Desire Kabila. An aide to Wamba told Radio France Internationale on Sunday the ex-RCD leader was prepared to go to Kinshasa for the meeting in the interests of peace. The aide also claimed Wamba had suspended the authorities of Province Orientale after the clashes in Kisangani. These reportedly included the governor and his deputies, the mayor and his deputies and the military commander.

Ilunga wants to clear up differences with allies

The new leader of the rebel RCD, Emile Ilunga, has said he is keen to meet Ugandan and Rwanda "to clarify the situation with our allies". In an interview with Belgian radio, he said the differences were not deep and relations with both countries were friendly. He dismissed as "schoolboy logic" the contention that the RCD would collapse if Rwanda and Uganda withdrew from DRC.

EU offers to pay DRC diplomacy costs

The European Union (EU) has offered to meet the costs of Zambian President Frederick Chiluba's shuttle diplomacy in the quest for a peaceful solution to the DRC crisis, news organisations reported on Monday. Zambia has been mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to coordinate the DRC peace efforts.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Non-aggression pact with DRC ratified

The cabinet has ratified a non-aggression pact signed between the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in December by Presidents Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Laurent-Desire Kabila. The ratification is intended to "crown the two countries' will to maintain trusting relations", reinforce the need for peace, and develop economic and commercial exchange, according to reports from Radio Congo in Brazzaville.

RWANDA: Justice Minister slams Ruzindana sentence

Rwandan Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo has protested against the sentence handed down to genocide suspect Obed Ruzindana by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in Arusha, on Friday. While hailing the life imprisonment sentence against the co-accused former governor of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, Mucyo complained that the 25 years' jail sentence for Ruzindana was too lenient, Hirondelle news agency reported. Mucyo noted that the Kibuye businessman "took part in preparing the genocide at Bisesero and incited many others to carry it out".

The ICTR says it handed down a lesser sentence to Ruzindanda, aged 37, "because of his relatively young age [32 in 1994] and the possibility of rehabilitation". However Mucyo said the Tribunal's decision was "incomprehensible". "There is nothing to prove that a person will make amends one day when that person has never admitted to the crimes and has never asked forgiveness." Mucyo added that such a sentence "risked minimising the genocide" in future ICTR convictions.

Zambia agrees in principle to provide prison facilities

An agreement in principle has been reached with Zambia to provide prison facilities for enforcing the ICTR's sentences, Tribunal spokesman Kingsley Moghalu said. The agreement was expected to be formalised soon, and negotiations on the same issue were at an "advanced stage" with Benin and Madagascar. Moghalu recalled that an accord had already been signed with the government of Mali.

BURUNDI: Nyerere satisfied with Arusha talks progress

Arusha peace process mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, has said he is satisfied with the progress of the talks, Hirondelle news agency reported on Sunday. Speaking at the close of two weeks of discussions at committee-level, Nyerere said there had been "encouraging results". "Last time I was complaining you were not making much progress," he told representatives of the 18 Burundian sides represented in Arusha. "Today, I'm hopeful you can progress quickly." The two weeks of talks culminated in the formation of three groups sharing broadly the same views. Burundi Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba has warned of the possibility of intimidation and extremism within these groups, but acknowledged that compromise and consensus may now be possible.

UGANDA: Four killed by ADF rebels

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) last Tuesday raided Mainaro and Kahungye in Kabarole district, killing people and abducting 40 others. Ugandan army sources in Bihanga however said 30 of the captives had been rescued, the semi-official 'New Vision' daily reported. The rebels attacked Kanyabutagi and Kirurumo rangers' camps and three tree planters camps in Kibale forest park. They are believed to have crossed into the area from Kabambiro near the dense Dura forest.

Some 120 rebels surrender in the north

About 120 rebels of the Uganda National Rescue Front II (UNRFII) have surrendered to the Ugandan army in Arua following a peace initiative by the government and the local council, the 'New Vision' reported. The group is currently undergoing a one month rehabilitation course, with the option of rejoining the army or remaining civilians. An official in charge of training the ex-rebels was quoted as saying they had been turning up at various army installations and local council units in the area over the last month, mostly from Sudan.

Museveni to free 147 rebels

Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he will release 147 UNRFII rebels detained in Luzira prison in Kampala. The 'New Vision' quoted him as saying they were "mistakenly" arrested after surrendering to the army. Arua officials said the move would make the peace process in the north move faster.

Nairobi, 24 May 1999, 15:15 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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