IRIN Update 552 for 24 Nov 1998

IRIN Update 552 for 24 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. 552 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 24 November 1998)

GREAT LAKES: Arms inquiry leader warns of potential catastrophe

The danger of a repeated regional catastrophe on the scale of the 1994 Rwandan genocide cannot be ruled out, the chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Flow of Arms to Former Rwandan Forces, Mahmoud Kassem, said yesterday (Monday) in New York. Briefing journalists on the Commission's final report, Kassem said an outbreak of violence in the region would be "extremely contagious, leading to a situation even worse than Rwanda". He noted that the 23 rebel groups in the region had steadily gained in strength since 1994. (For more information on the Commission's report, see IRIN item of 23 November headlined "Rebel activities financed by drugs trade").

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Regional leaders to attend Franco-African summit

Regional leaders involved in the DRC crisis are among 35 heads of state due to attend a three-day Franco-African summit in Paris beginning on Thursday. The presidents of Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, the DRC and Namibia are among those invited. Also expected to attend are the leaders of Kenya and Tanzania. South Africa is to be represented at the gathering by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, and Angola by Minister of Defence General Pedro Sebastiao, according to the summit programme. The Secretaries-General of the United Nations and OAU have also been invited.

AFP reported that a DRC rebel delegation led by Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma arrived in Paris yesterday but has not been officially invited to the summit. The rebel team is urging European countries to pressure DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila to negotiate a ceasefire directly with them. Meanwhile, Kabila met Pope John Paul II in a private audience in the Vatican today (Tuesday). Kabila is on a European tour to drum up support for his embattled government.

Belgium urged to guarantee Kabila's immunity

The DRC charge d'affaires in Brussels has asked the Belgian government to guarantee Kabila's immunity when he visits the country, after at least two lawsuits were filed against him in which he stands accused of crimes against humanity and inciting genocide, news reports said. One of the suits was filed by the opposition Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) which said it planned to hold demonstrations in Brussels against Kabila's visit. Kabila's opponents in Belgium say they have been encouraged by the recent arrest in London of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Reuters reported.

National polio campaign rescheduled

The first round of a national polio vaccination campaign in the DRC, postponed due to the outbreak of the conflict in August, has been rescheduled for 21-23 December, an official from WHO's regional office for Africa told IRIN. The campaign will initially only take place in provinces under the control of the government, according to the official. WHO is considering enlisting the help of a respected African statesman to serve as a "mediator" with a view to extending the campaign to any rebel-held areas early next year, the official added. The national campaign, targeting about 10 million Congolese children under five years of age, is part of global efforts to eradicate polio by the year 2000.

TANZANIA: Rebel capture of Moba leads to refugee influx

Congolese refugees arriving in western Tanzania said the recent capture of Moba by DRC rebel forces will lead to more refugees crossing in the coming days, UNHCR said. Over 400 Congolese refugees were reported to have arrived in recent days in the Rukwa and Mwakizega areas, while 81 new arrivals were reported in Kigoma between 16-19 November. Over 14,700 Congolese have arrived as refugees in the Kigoma area since the beginning of August, according to UNHCR.

BURUNDI: "Hidden agenda" in keeping sanctions - Buyoya

President Pierre Buyoya has charged there is a "hidden agenda" behind the region's failure to lift the economic embargo. In an interview broadcast by Burundi radio yesterday, he said there were "constant additions" to the conditions for lifting sanctions. "It is clearer today than ever before that there are motives behind the embargo which are irrelevant to the peace process," Buyoya said. "Some people would like to use the embargo to force Burundi to accept a ready-made peace formula." He stressed that a peace "imposed" on Burundi would not be a solution, adding that those who wanted to maintain the sanctions "will gradually lose their arguments and support".

24 killed in Bubanza

An armed gang killed 24 people in Bubanza province on Sunday, according to the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP). It said two separate attacks occurred in Gihanga commune. Twenty people were wounded, 13 of them seriously, and 114 houses were set ablaze, the report added.

RWANDA: Three high-ranking adminstrators sentenced to death for genocide

A court in Gikongoro yesterday sentenced six people to death following a joint trial of 22 genocide suspects, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Among the six were three former Rwandan officials, namely a former sub-prefect Joseph Ntegeyintwali, and two former mayors Didace Hategekimana and Martin Kagimbura. The news agency pointed out that the three men are the highest-ranking administrators to be condemned to death by a Rwandan court so far.

ICTR registrar visits detainees

The registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has visited the court's detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania, in the aftermath of a hunger strike by some detainees. An ICTR press release, received today by IRIN, said Agwu Ukiwe Okali explained modifications to the Tribunal's programme on assigning defence lawyers, which had sparked the protest. According to the statement, the modifications - including an expanded list of defence lawyers - were greeted with approval.

SUDAN: Bill legalising political associations passed

Sudan's parliament has passed a controversial bill allowing for the establishment of political associations but not parties, media reports said today. Under the bill, any group of at least 100 eligible voters are allowed to form a political association so long as it is committed to the constitution. Political parties have been banned in Sudan since 1989. According to AFP, some deputies walked out of the assembly to protest the lack of opportunity to debate the legislation. The bill requires presidential endorsement before passing into law.

UN seeks to support IGAD process

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said his efforts to help find a way to end Sudan's civil war were focused on how the UN could support the peace process initiated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), media reports said today. Speaking to the BBC at the end of his visit to Khartoum, Prendergast said the UN is interested in making the IGAD mediation process more "sustained and vigorous," rather than competing with it.


The UN's Mission des Nations Unies en Republique Centrafricaine (MINURCA) has confirmed that the first round of legislative elections on Sunday had gone well, without serious hitches or violence, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said yesterday in New York. UN electoral observers were returning to the capital Bangui from outlying areas and short-term observers were scheduled to leave the country today, he said. Preliminary results were expected to be known later this week.

Nairobi, 24 November 1998, 15:00 gmt


Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 18:13:39 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 552 for 24 Nov 1998.11.24

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

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