IRIN Update 548 for 18 Nov 1998

IRIN Update 548 for 18 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. 548 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 18 November 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila victory will "guarantee" instability, report warns

International Crisis Group (ICG), the Brussels-based think tank, has warned that a military victory by President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his allies in the conflict will "guarantee" instability and the entire region will remain under constant threat. In a recent report on the DRC rebellion, the ICG said Kabila would become "more authoritarian" which would lead to a lack of political consensus and the ensuing economic repercussions. Kabila's "obligations" to his foreign allies would further strain the economy. In addition, the Congolese armed forces would be incapable of protecting the borders.

The report said the preferred scenario was an agreement to hold negotiations - especially on the thorny topic of the Kivus - and the arrival of neutral peacekeeping forces following a withdrawal of foreign troops. This could set the stage for a transition leading to elections, but would necessitate a commitment by the international community, both politically and economically, the ICG said.

Congolese president calls for central African peacekeeping force

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has expressed support for a central African peacekeeping force in the DRC, the monthly 'Depeches de Brazzaville' reported yesterday (Tuesday), according to AFP. It quoted Sassou Nguesso as saying the peacekeepers could be similar to the West African ECOMOG force set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, at a summit in Nairobi last month, also called for a neutral international peacekeeping force under OAU and UN auspices. Last week, the new DRC ambassador to Kenya, Gabriel Kyunzu, stressed his government would accept the deployment of peacekeepers in eastern DRC if the foreign "aggressors" withdrew.

Rebels to attend peace talks for first time

Representatives of the UN, OAU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are due to meet in Botswana on Friday to try and secure a ceasefire agreement, Reuters reported today (Wednesday). Zambian Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Silwamba was quoted as saying rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba was invited to the talks, marking the first direct involvement of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) in peace talks. Congolese representatives would not attend the Botswana meeting, but would be present at another regional ministerial meeting planned for 6 December in Lusaka, the minister said.

Mandela urges Tanzania to help find solution

South African President Nelson Mandela has urged Tanzania to use its influence in bringing an end to the DRC conflict, the South African news agency SAPA reported yesterday. Mandela, who is visiting Tanzania, told a public rally in Dar es Salaam his country was seeking every opportunity to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. He said Tanzania's "constructive role" in the Burundi peace process raised hopes it could play a significant part in a DRC solution.

SPLA helping Ugandans in Province Orientale, Sudanese envoy alleges

The Sudanese ambassador to DRC, Al-Sadiq Osman, has claimed the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is fighting alongside rebels in the Buta and Isiro areas of Province Orientale. He told DRC radio yesterday the SPLA was assisting Ugandan forces in the area. He further denied that Sudanese forces were fighting on the DRC side. "Concerning the Sudanese allegedly captured, they are traders residing in DRC," he said. Humanitarian sources in touch with the area told IRIN recently SPLA forces controlled other parts of northeastern DRC, including Doruma, Dungu and Faradje.

Rebel leaders agree to bury their differences

RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba is reported to have met another rebel chief, Jean-Pierre Bemba, in the Ugandan capital Kampala yesterday. According to AP, the two men said they agreed to pool efforts against Kabila's forces, rather than create "the illusion of division" among themselves. A BBC report from Bemba's stronghold in Equateur province said the millionaire businessman, who heads the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), appeared to have Uganda's support. There was a strong Ugandan military presence in the Dulia area where Chadian troops had been routed. According to the reporter, Uganda may have lost patience with the RCD "for its failure to make the rebellion genuinely popular".

Rwanda slams Kabila visit to Europe

Rwandan ministers have criticised a planned visit to Europe next week by Kabila, Rwandan radio reported. Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana and Presidential Affairs Minister Patrick Mazimhaka told diplomats in Kigali yesterday Kabila should not be welcomed in Europe because of his "lack of respect for human rights". "The DRC has become the centre of all criminal elements fighting for Kabila," the ministers added. Meanwhile, the Agence congolaise de presse said a meeting between Kabila and Pope John Paul II in Rome had been confirmed for next Tuesday. Kabila meanwhile arrived in Angola today for talks with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, news agencies reported.

GREAT LAKES: UN committee stresses need for early warning system

A UN advisory committee on security in Central Africa has reiterated the need to establish an early warning system for the region. The committee - which comprises Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe, Angola and Rwanda - met in Cameroon last month. The latter two countries were unable to attend. The countries meeting in Yaounde expressed concern over continuing tension and conflict in Central Africa and called for setting up a dispute settlement body. In their Yaounde declaration received by IRIN today, they reiterated a call for the withdrawal of foreign forces from DRC and for stepping up the process of democratisation in that country. They also called for the immediate lifting of sanctions on Burundi, describing them as "disastrous" for the country.

BURUNDI: UN deplores attacks against civilians

The UN Security Council yesterday said it fully endorsed last week's condemnation by the Secretary-General of the "escalating cycle of violence" in Burundi. It particularly called for the swift punishment of all those guilty of "deplorable" attacks against civilians. Council president Peter Burleigh told reporters he welcomed the Burundi government's intention to investigate the army killing of civilians earlier this month and bring the perpetrators to justice.

RWANDA: Verdict awaited in two more genocide trials

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday concluded two more genocide trials, but the date for the verdicts has still to be announced, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. The former prefect of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, and businessman Obed Ruzindana pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at a joint trial that lasted nearly 20 months.

ERITREA: Djibouti closes embassy

Djibouti today closed its embassy in Asmara to protest against Eritrean allegations it was siding with Ethiopia in the border conflict, AP reported. Djibouti has demanded an apology, but Eritrean presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab was quoted as saying Eritrea would express "no regret to a nation that is backing Ethiopia". However, Asmara did not plan to sever ties with Djibouti, he added. Eritrea accuses Djibouti of providing facilities and services to the Ethiopian army via its port.

SUDAN: Rebel leader says Kenyan police holding him "hostage"

Sudanese rebel leader Kerubino Kuanyin Bol has accused Kenyan police of keeping him "hostage" by forbidding him to leave Kenya. Speaking on Kenyan television yesterday, he claimed SPLA leader John Garang had ordered his detention in Kenya. The 'Daily Nation' today wrote that Kerubino and four aides were allegedly arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday on the orders of Garang which sparked clashes between supporters of the two factions at Muthangari police station in Nairobi, and not at Garang's residence as had earlier been reported. Garang's whereabouts are currently unknown, with some reports claiming he is in hiding and others stating he is at home.

Gogrial populated only by displaced persons

A recent OLS assessment mission to Gogrial, north of Wau in Bahr al-Ghazal, found that there were less than 300 people living in the town and that they were all displaced persons, according to the latest UNICEF weekly update received from Khartoum. The nutritional status of the population was found to be adequate but access to clean water was difficult, the report said. The UNICEF team vaccinated 141 children and treated 57 women with tetanus toxoid, it added.

Nairobi, 18 November 1998, 13:45 gmt


Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 16:42:42 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 548 for 18 Nov 1998.11.18 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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