IRIN Update 527 for 20 Oct 1998

IRIN Update 527 for 20 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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 527 Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 20 October 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Finance minister sacked

Finance Minister Fernand Tala Ngai has been sacked and is being held for questioning as part of a judicial enquiry, government officials said today (Tuesday), according to Reuters. No details were given, but officials said the move was connected to national security. The ousted minister was replaced by Agriculture Minister Mawampanga Mwana Nanga.

Ex-South Kivu governor expected in Kinshasa

DRC state television yesterday (Monday) said local people were "putting up resistance" in the rebel-held east. According to the television, the South Kivu governor Jean-Charles Magabe had "succeeded in fleeing" the area and was now in Europe. A decree read out earlier over rebel-held Bukavu radio said Magabe had been sacked for dereliction of duty. DRC television said Magabe would come to Kinshasa "to give us details of what is happening on the other side".

Senior commander defects

Meanwhile, a top DRC military official has reportedly defected to the rebel side. According to the Rwanda News Agency, Rwandan radio today said Colonel Songolo Nura, a senior military adviser to President Laurent-Desire Kabila, had joined the Rassemblement congolais pour la demcratie (RCD) from Katanga province, where he was commanding government troops. Songolo told the radio in Goma he had defected because Kabila was "corrupt and tribalist". In addition to troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, Kabila was assisted by "a rag-tag of militia forces" from the ex-FAR, Interahamwe, Sudanese soldiers, Burundian and Ugandan rebels, Songolo added.

South Africa suspends flights to Kinshasa

South African Airways suspended flights to Kinshasa yesterday as President Nelson Mandela engaged in diplomatic activity to try and resolve the conflict in DRC. According to AFP, a spokesman for SAA said flights were suspended due to the volatile security situation in the country. Meanwhile, Mandela held talks with visiting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday and is due to meet Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame this week, news reports said. He will also meet a rebel delegation and the Namibian President Sam Nujoma, according to Reuters.

Zimbabwean soldiers captured in east

Zimbabwe admitted the rebels had captured 16 of its soldiers in eastern DRC. A defence ministry statement, reported by Zimbabwean radio yesterday, said the soldiers were taken prisoner in Kabalo town as they tried to leave for a DRC government-controlled area. The radio said the Zimbabwean plane in which they were travelling "took off without incident" after the 16 were disarmed. Reuters cited a rebel spokesman who said the soldiers were captured on the ground and denied the presence of an aircraft. He claimed four Zimbabweans had been killed.

RWANDA: Government slams Mugabe

Rwanda lashed out at Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe yesterday, accusing him of "derailing" a negotiated solution to the DRC conflict by excluding the rebels from any discussions. A government statement, reported by Rwandan radio, added that Rwanda could not be party to a ceasefire agreement as it was not one of the belligerents. The statement, which was responding to accusations by Mugabe that Rwanda was reneging on a peace deal for DRC, said genuine negotiations could only be held between Kabila's side and the rebels. "Instead of misrepresenting the political and military siutation in the Congo, President Mugabe should be encouraging Mr Kabila to enter into serious negotiations with the rebels," the statement said.

SUDAN: Over 14,000 returnees registered in Yambio

WFP announced that 14,241 Sudanese returnees from DRC have been registered in Yambio by the local authorities, and they continue to cross the border at the rate of 1,000 per day. The UN agency noted that among the registered returnees, 10,995 were from Yambio county and 3,015 from Maridi county. The returnees are reportedly in good health. An OLS mission is currently assessing the food and non-food needs of the returnees in Yambio, as well as the situation of displaced people from the Bahr-al- Ghazal region.

Annan reports on Sudan crisis

In his latest report on emergency assistance to the Sudan, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the parties to the conflict and donor governments to work together to avert the deaths of innocent victims in the country. Annan said that prospects for an early end to the crisis in southern Sudan remained limited and that substantial amounts of food aid were likely to be required until October 1999. He underlined the critical need for donor support to OLS in order to stabilise the humanitarian situation. The report, prepared for the General Assembly, said that maintaining and expanding access to populations in need, including in the Nuba Mountains, would remain a top priority for humanitarian agencies.

BURUNDI: 13 killed in rebel attack

Thirteen people were killed and 17 injured during a rebel attack in the northwest province of Bubanza, AFP reported. It quoted provincial governor Gilbert Kayonde who blamed the Sunday night attack on PALIPEHUTU rebels. He said the attackers had infiltrated from neighbouring DRC. The attack comes as 17 Burundian sides taking part in the Arusha peace process yesterday began discussing security issues.

Nairobi, 20 October 1998, 12:30 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or free subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates] Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 15:20:16 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 527 for 20 Oct 1998.10.20 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,