IRIN Update 551 for 23 Nov 1998.11.23

IRIN Update 551 for 23 Nov 1998.11.23

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. 551 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 23 November 1998)


Weekend peace talks in the Botswanan capital Gaborone, which for the first time included the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), ended inconclusively, news organisations reported. Representatives of the UN, OAU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) also attended the meeting. On Friday, SADC Executive Secretary Kaire Mbuende, quoted by the South African news agency SAPA, accused the rebels of "childish" behaviour for making additional demands including an "endorsement of the partition of the DRC". "We think that this behaviour is tantamount to that of bandits and not statesmen," Mbuende said. However, following a second round of talks on Saturday, he acknowledged the talks had laid a basis for moving the peace process forward, despite the fact a ceasefire plan was not adopted, SAPA said. President Laurent-Desire Kabila has agreed to talk to Rwanda and Uganda but not the rebels, as he insists the rebellion is a "foreign aggression".

Rebels can topple Kabila, Karaha says

Meanwhile, one of the rebel leaders attending the talks, Bizima Karaha, said rebel forces had enough weapons to topple Kabila, SAPA reported. "I think the time has now come for the war to end in our country," he told journalists. "Kabila should accept that militarily we have won against him and we now want to defeat him on political grounds as well."

Belgian minister predicts "difficult" Kabila visit

Kabila arrived in Rome yesterday (Sunday) on the first leg of his European tour. He is also due to visit Belgium and France. A Brussels-based journalist told IRIN today (Monday) the Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke had described the visit as "working" not "official". The minister added that the talks would be "difficult". Derycke has put foward four proposals for a negotiated solution to the DRC conflict, the journalist said. He suggested a ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign troops, an internal DRC political dialogue and measures to guarantee security at DRC's borders.

Rebel commander escapes unhurt after plane crash

Rebel commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane and other top rebel officials survived an air crash at Goma airport yesterday, rebel-held Goma radio reported today. The radio, monitored by the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), said a wheel on the plane burst as it was preparing to take off and a fire broke out. The plane was carrying 127 passengers bound for Kisangani. No injuries were reported.

Humanitarian aid urgently needed in Kindu

A "dangerous combination" of circumstances has created urgent and large-scale needs in the Kindu area of Maniema province, a recent NGO assessment mission has found. Heavy fighting between government and rebel forces in Kindu between 5-12 October had led at least 80 percent of the town's population fleeing into surrounding forests, where many deaths were reported due to disease, an international NGO said in a report received today by IRIN. There has been a sharp increase in cases of malaria, diarrhoea and other diseases in Kindu since then, while prices of basic food items have increased by between 200-800 percent, the report said.

Kindu airport is accessible but road, rail and river links have effectively been cut. Kindu's main hospital is not functioning, an important medical store has been completely looted and the town's water system urgently needs diesel to continue operating. Although rebel-held Kindu was quiet, the population was said to be living in "profound fear." The NGO mission also visited the nearby town of Kalima, where the humanitarian situation was reported to be precarious but less serious than in Kindu.

Unarmed civilians face rape, other abuses by warring parties - Amnesty

Rape has been used by combatants on both sides of the DRC conflict to spread terror among the population and destabilise community identity, Amnesty International said in a report released today. Amnesty said rape and other acts of sexual violence were being used as a weapon of war, at times preceding or accompanying the large-scale massacre of civilians. Other serious violations of human rights committed since 2 August by both sides include torture, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, Amnesty charged in the report. It said the conflict had had a "devastating impact" on local populations and that government and rebel forces were "effectively waging war against unarmed and defenceless civilians." Foreign powers have provided arms or war funds to the warring parties, the report said, adding that "very little has been said or done" about the conflict's human rights dimension.

RWANDA: Eminent Personalities' Panel begins work

An International Panel of Eminent Personalities (IPEP), set up under OAU auspices to investigate the 1994 genocide, has begun its work in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Rwandan radio reported on Friday. The official inuaguration ceremony is due to take place in January. It said the panel will issue regular reports on its work and findings.

BURUNDI: US $7 million needed for peace talks

The Nyerere Foundation has asked donors for US $7 million to cover the costs of the Burundi peace process, the 'EastAfrican' newspaper said today. The budget proposal is for a ten-month period and is in response to donor pressure for the foundation to stop presenting financial requirements before each round of talks, the newspaper said. Three rounds of Burundi peace talks, facilitated by former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, have so far been held in Arusha and the next round is scheduled for January.

Car ambush kills five

Five people were killed in an ambush on a car in Makamba province yesterday, AP said. Quoting an army spokesman, AP said the attack, about 150 km south of Bujumbura, was carried out by rebels. Soldiers responding to the raid killed one of the attackers, it added. More than 100 people have been killed in a series of violent attacks in Burundi so far this month, news agencies have said.

UGANDA: ADF rebels kill three

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Saturday attacked Karago trading centre in the western Kabarole district, killing three people and abducting several others, the 'Sunday Vision' reported yesterday. The Ugandan army repulsed the attackers, injuring a rebel. The paper added that many residents fled their homes to escape the fighting.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: First-round elections peaceful

Voter turnout for the first round of legislative elections yesterday in the capital Bangui was estimated at 70 percent, news agencies said. The day of balloting, to appoint 109 deputies who will make up the National Assembly, took place without incident, AFP said. There were no turnout figures for the rest of the country, it added. The elections are being monitored by international observers under the auspices of the UN's Mission des Nations Unies en Republique Centrafricaine (MINURCA). The second round of voting is slated for 13 December.

SUDAN: Factions' disarmament programme completed

The Sudanese authorities have completed the disarmament of pro-government militia in Khartoum in a bid to end faction fighting, the official SUNA news agency reported yesterday. The police commander of Khartoum state, Major-General Osman Jaafar Osman, said southern faction leaders had not objected to the weapons' confiscation, which began on Thursday. He said the arms held by the militia consisted mainly of pistols and assault rifles.

Nairobi, 23 November 1998, 15:05 gmt


Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 18:07:11 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 551 for 23 Nov 1998.11.23

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

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