IRIN Update 531 for 26 Oct 1998

IRIN Update 531 for 26 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. 531 Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 26 October 1998)


Foreign and defence ministers from 12 African countries began talks today (Monday) in the Zambian capital Lusaka aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the DRC crisis, news agencies said. The talks include representatives from Zambia, South Africa, Gabon, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda and Rwanda, AP said. Also present are OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, a delegation from the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) and observers from Libya, news agencies said. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall was also scheduled to attend the talks, a UN spokesman said in New York on Friday.

Salim said the meeting would seek an immediate cessation of hostilities and a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the DRC, and it would try to address the security concerns of its neighbors, AP said. It was unclear whether the RCD representatives would sit at the same negotiating table as the other delegations.

Military situation remains confused

The Rwanda News Agency said ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia killed nine people and wounded five others during an attack at Byahi near Goma on Saturday morning. Quoting rebel-held radio in Goma, it said the victims were mostly traders. Meanwhile, the government and the RCD both reported various military successes in eastern DRC over the weekend, but none of the claims could be independently confirmed. Informed sources in contact with Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental, told IRIN today that the town remained calm.

Displaced face health problems - NGO

A local NGO in Uvira told IRIN on Saturday that Banyamulenge staying in displaced persons' camps in the town are facing health problems, including cholera and a shortage of drugs. Four people have died so far and 35 others have been admitted to hospital, it said. There are currently about 8,000 displaced Banyamulenge from Katanga, as well as some people from the Bafulero ethnic group, staying in the Uvira camps, the NGO said, adding that between 3,000 and 4,000 displaced people remain in Kalemie waiting to be transported to Uvira.

Tshisekedi barred from leaving - UDPS

Immigration officials in Kinshasa on Saturday prevented opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi from leaving the country, the Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) said in a statement received by IRIN today. Tshisekedi had been invited to Brussels by the European Parliament to present his plan for a peaceful settlement of the DRC crisis, the statement said. The UDPS accused Kabila of being a "dictator" who continued to hold Tshisekedi as his "prisoner," the statement added. Reuters quoted a senior government official as saying on Monday that Tshisekedi was prevented from leaving the DRC because of "passport problems."

Meanwhile, Kabila has received a draft of the country's proposed new constitution prepared by a 13-member institutional reform commission, news agencies said on Friday. The draft is to be put to a national referendum, Reuters reported.

RWANDA: Former education minister transferred to ICTR

Another genocide suspect has been transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to a press release from the court. Dr Andre Rwamakuba, who was education minister during the 1994 genocide, was transferred from Namibia to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday. He was arrested in Windhoek two days earlier. The accused, from Gikomero commune in Kigali-Rural prefecture, is a medical doctor by profession and is charged with genocide crimes and crimes against humanity, the press release said.

Meanwhile, the trial of another suspect, Alfred Musema, is due to start in Arusha in January, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Musema, the former director of the Gisovu tea factory in southwest Rwanda, was transferred to the court in May 1997 after his arrest in Switzerland, and has pleaded not guilty to genocide crimes.

Akayesu still on hunger strike

Ex-mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, who was convicted of genocide earlier this month, is now on his fifth day of hunger strike, Hirondelle reported today. He is protesting against the court's refusal to allow him a lawyer of his choice to handle his appeal. An ICTR spokesman however said that if Akayesu wanted to pay for his own lawyer, "he can hire whoever he pleases".

WFP distributing food in Gikongoro

WFP has begun distributing relief food supplies to over 25,000 Rwandan families facing food shortages in Gikongoro prefecture. According to a WFP news release, received today by IRIN, the UN agency will distribute some 1,200 mt of food over the next three weeks. WFP's representative in Rwanda, Gerard van Dijk, said most of the families only had a one acre plot of land to cultivate, mostly on steep hillsides where the quality of soil had eroded over the years. He added that the food aid would reach over 20 percent of the prefecture's 500,000 residents.

UGANDA: Kidnapped tourists sighted

Three tourists, kidnapped two months ago by Rwandan rebels during a gorilla tracking trip in the Rwenzori mountains, have been spotted in eastern DRC, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported on Friday. It cited a western diplomatic source as saying the three, a New Zealander and two Swedes - had been sighted in the forests, reportedly along with two other foreign captives. The 'Sunday Vision' meanwhile reported yesterday that a New Zealand radio network has offered airtime to the rebels holding the tourists in an attempt to secure their release. The newspaper said Radio Pacific Network was sending a correspondent to the region with an offer of an hour's live broadcast in return for freeing the tourists.

SUDAN: "Technical fault" caused warplane to crash, army says

Sudan has admitted the loss of a plane during military operations in Eastern Equatoria. In a statement read out over Sudanese television yesterday, the armed forces' general command said troops were conducting an operation to "clear out the remaining pocket of mercenaries and outlaws" when the plane "developed a technical fault and crashed". Reuters quoted the rebel SPLA as saying it shot down the aircraft in the Torit/Liria area.

The Sudanese government meanwhile announced on Saturday that all universities would reopen on 31 October. Studies had been suspended to allow students to enrol for the war effort.

Support for Eritrean, Ugandan rebels

According to Reuters, Sudan has acknowledged support for rebels trying to overthrow the governments of Uganda and Eritrea. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osmal Ismail said Sudan's support was in response to those countries' backing of Sudanese rebels. He added that his country had also offered Kabila political support against the DRC rebellion, but had not sent troops to the country.

Over 28,000 displaced in Kassala

In the eastern state of Kassala, some 28,300 displaced people have been registered, following conflict along the Sudan-Eritrea border while in Tokar, mixed commodities have been distributed to about 8,000 people displaced by the same conflict, WFP says. It adds that 17,000 returnees from DRC have been registered in Yambio, and they are arriving at the rate of about 1,000 per day.

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: OAU mediation to resume next month, Ethiopia says

The Ethiopian foreign ministry has announced that an OAU mediation team will hold talks with the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea next month in a bid to resolve the simmering border conflict, news organisations reported. An OAU committee, comprising the presidents of Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Djibouti, were due to meet the two leaders separately after which recommendations would be drawn up, the foreign ministry statement said.

Nairobi, 26 October 1998, 14:55 gmt


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Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 17:53:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 531 for 26 Oct 1998.10.26 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,