IRIN Update 537 for Tues 3 Nov 1998

IRIN Update 537 for Tues 3 Nov 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. 537 Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 3 November 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Angolan troops to leave - Reuters

Reuters reported yesterday (Monday) that Angola had agreed to withdraw its troops from the DRC, contradicting earlier reports of an Angolan troop build-up ahead of a planned allied offensive in the east. Quoting a US official in Kinshasa, Reuters said the reported agreement for a "slow withdrawal" of Angolan troops followed last week's visit to Angola by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice.

However, a senior Zimbabwean government official was quoted today (Tuesday) by the same news agency as saying that Zimbabwe was "not aware" of the agreement. There has been no confirmation of the report from Angola.

Meanwhile, security sources in Angola told IRIN's southern Africa service that Rwandan soldiers had regrouped in the Quimbele area of northern Angola after they clashed with Angolan troops in UNITA-held territory in early October. According to Angolan military sources, Rwandan soldiers captured during the clashes were flown back to Kigali, as proof of Rwandan infiltration of Angola.

An Angolan army briefing document, forwarded to IRIN, said some 1,000 UNITA soldiers were in DRC to assist Congolese rebels in their advance on Lubumbashi.

Rebel boats reportedly sunk

Combat helicopters used by government forces or their allies sank two boats carrying rebels on Lake Tanganyika between Fizi and Kalemie in eastern DRC on Saturday, news agencies reported yesterday. Citing an aviation source, AFP said the attack was aimed at cutting off supplies to rebel-held Kalemie in Katanga province. Rebel-controlled radio in Bukavu, meanwhile, said on Sunday that the rebels were advancing on three separate fronts, from Buta towards Kinshasa, from Kindu towards Mbuji-Mayi and from Kalemie towards Lubumbashi. Congolese state television in Kinshasa on Sunday quoted the governor of Kasai-Oriental as calling on residents to form "self-defence committees" to help "kick the enemy out of the country."

US envoy continues regional tour

Rice was scheduled to arrive in Rwanda today as part of a US attempt to prevent the DRC conflict from spreading, news agencies said. She was due to meet with Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame. Rice held talks with President Frederick Chiluba in Zambia yesterday and was in Zimbabwe today waiting to meet President Robert Mugabe, news agencies said.

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who met Rice in Kinshasa on Saturday, said the US proposals for advancing peace were "not acceptable" and would work against the interests of the DRC, the Chinese News Agency reported today. Rice had proposed to Kabila that the foreign troops supporting him should withdraw as a condition for a cease-fire, it said. Rice had earlier described her meeting with Kabila as "productive."

DRC/BURUNDI: Expulsion of refugees condemned

Human Rights Watch has condemned the "forcible repatriation" of five Congolese refugees by Burundian authorities to rebel-held eastern DRC. In a statement received by IRIN yesterday, Human Rights Watch said the five had entered Burundi as escorts of former South Kivu Governor Charles Magabe, who fled rebel-held DRC last month. They included two bodyguards, two secretaries and a driver. The expulsion was a "breach of Burundi's international commitments not to return asylum seekers or refugees to a country where their human rights could be violated", Human Rights Watch said, adding that it had requested the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) to give public assurances that the five detainees would not be tortured.

UGANDA: No DRC advisor appointed - government

State Minister for Defence Steven Kavuma has denied media reports that Uganda had appointed a senior advisor on the Congo conflict. The 'EastAfrican' newspaper yesterday reported that Major General David Tinyefuza had been appointed to streamline operations against rebels in Congo who pose a threat to Rwanda and Uganda. However, the 'NewVision' newspaper today quoted Kavuma as saying the report was "totally untrue."

Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda's military operations against Ugandan rebel groups based in eastern DRC had been successful. In an interview published in 'Jeune Afrique', Museveni said that attacks by LRA and ADF rebels had "declined significantly" since Uganda sent troops to DRC.

Conflict impacting economy

The Ugandan shilling has depreciated by over 15 percent in the last two months, as much of the country's foreign earnings are reportedly being used to finance Ugandan's military role in the DRC, the AFIS news agency said in an article published in Kenya's 'Daily Nation' today. Uganda's economy has been affected by the drastic reduction in the level of exports to the DRC since August, AFIS said. AFIS quoted officials of the Uganda Investment Authority as saying that the country's involvement in the DRC war could also scare away investors, further damaging the economy.

Fewer displaced in north

The number of displaced people in Uganda has decreased since September and is now estimated at 474,327, according to figures provided by OCHA. In its latest report on affected populations in the Great Lakes region, OCHA said improved security conditions in northern areas, notably in Gulu district, have permitted many people to leave their camps and engage in farming activities. The western district of Bundibugyo also experienced a decrease in the number of displaced people, from 27,500 in September to 11,000 as of 30 October.

BURUNDI: UN Rapporteur hails peace efforts, notes existing tension

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has hailed the government's efforts to promote peace, while observing that tension still remains at communal level. In an interim report presented to the General Assembly, Pinheiro noted a "minimum level of trust" had been established between the government, political parties, national assembly and civil society, but he expressed concern over the lack of progress in the trial of military personnel accused of taking part in the 1993 coup attempt.

He said regional economic sanctions had aggravated the already precarious situation in the country and the time had now come for the international community to reassess its position regarding humanitarian aid. The situation in many parts of the country had moved into a pre-developmental phase, the report said, and more specialised agencies should take their place in the health sector. Key issues included the rehabilitation of displaced people, regrouped populations and refugees in their communes and hills of origin, the report noted.

Pinheiro also called on the Burundian authorities to take urgent measures to improve prison conditions. He urged both the government side and the rebels to respect international humanitarian law, especially with regard to the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets. The international community should give top priority to encouraging a genuine ceasefire and acknowledge the power-sharing initiatives taken by the authorities. In addition, Pinheiro recommended that the issue of an international criminal tribunal for Burundi be reconsidered by the UN once certain conditions had been met, such as a ceasefire and the initiation of a process towards democratic governance.

RWANDA: Verdicts in collective genocide trial

Eleven people were acquitted of genocide charges by a court in Nyamata on Monday, while 11 other suspects were sentenced by the same court to life imprisonment, the independent Hirondelle news agency said today. The court also sentenced another 23 people to jail terms ranging from 12 and 20 years. Hirondelle said that the Nyamata trial was one of largest and fastest collective genocide trials seen so far in Rwanda, where about 136,000 people remain under detention.

TANZANIA: Over 316,000 refugees recorded

More than 14,000 Congolese refugees have arrived in western Tanzania since the beginning of the crisis in August, according to UNHCR. A total of 14,015 Congolese had arrived in the Kigoma region as of yesterday and most of them have been transferred to the Nyarugusu camp in Kasulu district. The newly-arrived refugees said they fled because of insecurity and fears of a government counter-offensive in eastern DRC.

According to OCHA's latest report on affected populations in the Great Lakes region, Tanzania now hosts over 316,400 refugees, including some 265,000 Burundians, 47,000 Congolese and 4,400 Rwandans.

SUDAN: Emergency declared in west

President Omar al-Bashir declared a "state of emergency" in Darfur and northern Kordofan in an attempt to combat armed robbery in the area, Sudanese radio, monitored by the BBC, said yesterday. The declaration was in response to the "wishes of authorities and citizens in those states to track down gangs of armed robbers," the radio quoted a presidential advisor as saying.

Sorghum export ban lifted

The government has lifted a three-year-old ban on the export of sorghum, as farmers in eastern Sudan expect a bumper crop this season due to good rains, BBC reported yesterday. Farmers had been pushing for a lift of the ban to encourage sorghum production. BBC said the government decision was also influenced by reports of bumper grain harvests in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Nairobi, 3 November 1998 15:30 GMT


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Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 18:20:51 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN OCHA IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 537 for Tues 3 Nov 1998.11.3 Message-ID: <>

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