IRIN Update 526 for 19 Oct 1998

IRIN Update 526 for 19 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. 526 Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 19 October 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels offer ceasefire

The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) today (Monday) offered a ceasefire to find a peaceful end to the conflict, the Pan-African Movement told IRIN. RCD Chairman Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba told the Pan-African Movement in a telephone conversation there was no need to "go on killing and destroying the country". "We are offering a ceasefire so that negotiations for a lasting peace in the DRC and the region as a whole can begin, provided the Kabila government and its allies respond positively," Wamba was quoted as saying.

South Kivu governor sacked

The governor of South Kivu, Charles Magabe, has been sacked by the RCD and his deputy, Benjamin Serukiza, appointed acting governor. According to a decree read over Bukavu radio yesterday (Sunday), Magabe was fired because he made a private visit abroad instead of carrying out an official visit to Uvira. "Such behaviour constitutes an act of serious indiscipline," the decree stated. Any decisions or statements issued by Magabe were henceforth null and void. Regional analysts told IRIN Magabe was opposed to the RCD and had probably "connived" with President Laurent-Desire Kabila to sabotage the rebellion.

Rebels en route to Mbuji-Mayi

Well-informed sources told IRIN today rebel forces were halfway between Samba and Lubao, in Maniema province, progressing towards the Kasai Oriental capital, Mbuji-Mayi. The Belgian daily 'Le Soir' noted last week that the capture of Mbuji-Mayi, the "diamond capital", would deprive Kabila's government of its diamond revenue, necessary for the war effort. 'Le Soir' added however that Zimbabwe and Angola were likely to intervene in the fighting for Kasai.

Meanwhile sources in Kinshasa said that foreign currency is rare as diamond merchants are witholding foreign money in protest against a new government central trading department for precious minerals. On 11 September 1998, a presidential decree announced the creation of the 'Service d'achat de substances minerales precieuses' (SASMIP) in charge of purchasing, in Congolese francs, all gold and diamonds extracted in DRC and selling them for foreign currency. The decree notes the necessity of "strengthening state sovereignty over its natural resources" so that "not one gram of gold or diamond carat circulates outside the official circuit". The Agence congolaise de presse reported on Saturday that diamond exports had decreased by 13 percent in September.

Nairobi summit calls for peace-keeping force

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mpaka and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda have called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the DRC and the setting up of a neutral international peace-keeping force under OAU and UN auspices, news agencies said. Meeting in Nairobi on Sunday, the three presidents reaffirmed the need to address the "genuine security concerns" of neighbouring countries and expressed support for the efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to end the DRC crisis, news agencies said.

In a nine-point communique, the leaders also urged security for marginalised groups and an all-inclusive political dialogue in the country. Kabila, who was expected to attend the meeting, did not arrive, news organisations reported. The weekly 'EastAfrican' newspaper said today that the Nairobi summit was meant to find ways of "easing Uganda out of the DRC quagmire." The summit also came a month ahead of a meeting to discuss Rwanda's application to join the East African Cooperation, a regional grouping that currently comprises Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the newspaper added.

Kabila visits Sudan

Kabila paid a one-day visit to Khartoum on Saturday for talks with President Omar al-Bashir. Sudanese radio said they discussed the "foreign invasion" and efforts to counter it. Bashir expressed Sudan's support for the DRC.

Uganda threatens retaliation if Zimbabwe attacks eastern DRC

Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya yesterday threatened retaliation if Ugandan forces in DRC came under attack by Zimbabwean troops, AFP reported. Kategaya, who was responding to an announcement by President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabwe would send troops to eastern DRC, said Ugandan Regional Cooperation Minister Amama Mbabazi was currently in Harare to discuss the DRC conflict with Zimbabwean officials. According to the Ugandan state-owned 'New Vision' on Friday, Mbabazi had commented that Uganda and Zimbabwe agreed the conflict was an internal DRC problem and that a negotiated solution was necessary.

UGANDA: Three NGO workers killed

Three Sudanese employees of Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) were killed when their convoy was attacked and looted near the Sudanese border in northern Uganda on Thursday, an NPA spokesman told IRIN today. The attack took place some 20 km from Koboko as the NPA convoy was returning from western Equatoria, where it had delivered relief supplies for some 15,000 displaced persons in the Bamurye camp near Kajo-Keji, NPA said. The attackers were believed to be from the rebel West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). The Ugandan army has increased its patrols in the area, the NPA spokesman said, adding that the NGO was continuing to use the road to Sudan. About 112,130 displaced people in Western Equatoria depend on relief supplies delivered via that route, he added.

New LRA faction created

The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has split into two factions over the issue of the treatment of civilians, the 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Friday. The new faction, known as LRA-Democratic, is led by Ronald Otim Komakech, a long-time war planner for LRA leader Joseph Kony, the newspaper said. Komakech's faction was reported to have set up an office in Juba, southern Sudan, under the protection of another rebel group, the Uganda National Rescue Front Part Two (UNRF-2), it added.

ADF rebels "stranded" in west

Meanwhile, the 'Monitor' newspaper said that rebels of the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were "stranded" in the Ruwenzori Mountains in western Uganda. Quoting an army spokesman, the newspaper said military operations against ADF positions since June have largely cut off the rebels' access to food and ammunition supplies in the area.

BURUNDI: Differences emerge at Arusha talks

At the ongoing peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, the 17 delegations have been discussing ways of ending the civil conflict in Burundi, Umwizero radio in Bujumbura reported. Hashim Mbita, a spokesman for the Nyerere Foundation which is sponsoring the talks, said differences had emerged over the system of people's representation, with rebel and opposition delegations calling for a return to universal suffrage. Rebel delegations have also called for a reorganisation of the army.

RWANDA: 13 killed in lake mishap

At least 13 people were killed when a minibus they were travelling in plunged into Lake Kivu in the western Kibuye prefecture on Thursday, Rwandan radio reported. Five others were rushed to hospital after the accident near Karengera. The vehicle apparently overshot the road and landed in the water.

SUDAN: War-wounded patients on increase

The number of admissions to the ICRC hospital in Lokichokio, northern Kenya, has increased by 40 percent over the past six weeks due to renewed fighting in Eastern Equatoria, according to an ICRC statement received by IRIN today. The statement said that 100 new patients were treated at the Lokichokio hospital in the first two weeks of October alone. Most of these patients had arrived from Equatoria and more than half had gunshot wounds. Meanwhile, an ICRC surgical team at the teaching hospital in government-held Juba has recently treated 20 war victims, the statement added.

EAST AFRICA: Single currency planned

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda plan on introducing a single currency "soon after the year 2000," Kenyan television said on Thursday, quoting Kenyan Minister for East African and Regional Cooperation Nicholas Biwott. Meanwhile, the three countries have agreed to adopt a "zero tariff" for goods produced and exported within the region, Kenyan television said on Saturday. The measure, announced by Finance Minister Simeon Nyachae, will take effect in the 1999-2000 fiscal year as part of efforts to establish an East African common market, it said.

Leaders condemn terrorism

At Saturday's summit of East African states in Nairobi to discuss the DRC crisis, presidents Moi, Museveni and Mpaka also condemned acts of terrorism and called for concerted efforts to combat and eradicate terrorism in all its forms, Kenyan radio said. Before the meeting, the three leaders laid wreaths at the site of the 7 August bomb blast at the US embassy.

Nairobi, 19 October 1998, 15:10 gmt


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Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 18:02:23 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 526 for 19 Oct 1998.10.19 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,