IRIN Update 571 for 21 December 1998.12.21

IRIN Update 571 for 21 December 1998.12.21

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. 571 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 21 December 1998)

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Clashes, looting in capital

Residents of the Bacongo and Makelekele areas of south Brazzaville have fled their homes due to fighting and looting in the area since Friday, news agencies and humanitarian sources said. Government troops sealed off the two neighbourhoods yesterday (Sunday) after conducting "mopping up" operations against Ninja militia who had "infiltrated" the city from the Pool region, news agencies said. Heavy weapons fire and explosions were heard between Friday and Sunday. Relative calm returned to the city today (Monday), although sporadic gunfire and explosions were reported in the morning, news agencies said. In addition to Ninja fighters allied to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, groups of Cobra militia were reportedly also involved in the unrest in the two neighbourhoods, AFP said today.

Thousands flee to north Brazzaville

Humanitarian sources in Brazzaville estimated that about 10,000 residents of Bacongo and Makelekele had crossed into the northern part of the city where they were staying with families or in churches. Residents contacted by IRIN said a number of corpses were seen on the streets of southern Brazzaville, but casualty figures were not available. The city was without electricity or running water this morning for a third straight day. Some UN international staff members have crossed to Kinshasa, while AFP reported on Friday that France was considering evacuating its nationals from Brazzaville. A UNHCR spokesman said today that no refugee influx was reported from Brazzaville into Kinshasa over the weekend.

Meanwhile, some stray shells from the Brazzaville fighting were reported to have fallen across the river in Kinshasa, but no injuries were reported, residents told IRIN.

Sassou reportedly back in capital

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who was at last week's OAU summit in Burkina Faso when the clashes started, arrived back in Brazzaville on Saturday, Reuters quoted state radio as saying. Sassou gained power in late 1997 after a five-month civil war in which his Cobra militia backed by Angolan troops defeated Kolelas' Ninja fighters and Cocoye militia allied to former president Pascal Lissouba.

BURUNDI: OAU says all conditions met for lifting sanctions

The OAU has added its voice to mounting pressure for lifting the embargo on Burundi. At the end of its meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Friday, the OAU's conflict resolution committee said Burundi had met all the conditions laid down by regional leaders for ending the sanctions. It added that the sanctions must be lifted "considering that the parties to the Burundi conflict have already held three sessions of negotiations in Arusha".

Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba stated he was confident the embargo would be lifted. Speaking to the independent Hirondelle news agency in Arusha, Tanzania, he noted peace process mediator Julius Nyerere had expressed his intention to circulate a report to regional leaders recommending dropping sanctions.

Nyerere, quoted by Hirondelle, said last week's meetings in Arusha of three working groups on the conflict had attained "satisfactory results". On Saturday, he held talks in Nairobi on the Burundi issue with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, Kenyan KTN television reported.

Nyerere Foundation rejects allegations of mismanaging funds

The Nyerere Foundation meanwhile on Saturday defended itself against accusations of misuse of funds. Joseph Butiku, the Foundation's director, told Hirondelle all financial operations were in order. He admitted there had been some irregularities regarding four Tanzanian foreign ministry officials who had not accounted for spending over US $63,000 of the Foundation's money. Butiku estimated that US $6 million would be needed to fund the Arusha process up to June 1999.

EIU cautiously optimistic over economy

The latest report on Burundi by the Economist Intelligence Unit predicted a two to three percent economic growth for this year and said prospects for 1999-2000 depended in part on whether the country would still be under embargo. Other variables included agricultural activity and the level of foreign assistance to Burundi, both of which were expected to rise.

Oxford Analytica predicts sanctions will end in February

An analysis by Oxford Analytica noted that an end to sanctions would have a "pronounced effect" on the country's dislocated economy. Greater stability in Burundi could help mitigate tensions elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, the report added. It noted that Nyerere, "the last major opponent to lifting regional sanctions", had now changed his stance, probably under donor pressure. The report said regional heads of state would almost certainly accept the recommendation to lift sanctions which is due to be made at the next round of Arusha talks in January. The sanctions regime will probably end in February, it added. Oxford Analytica predicted that with the lifting of sanctions, Tanzania would take a tougher line on refugees. It also warned that rebel militias in Burundi, "ignored in Arusha and alarmed that sanctions might soon be lifted", were stepping up attacks on displaced people's camps to provoke "retaliatory massacres" by the army and thus sway international sympathy away from the government.

Minister warns of continuing insecurity in some areas

Burundi Interior Minister Colonel Ascencion Twagiramungu on Saturday warned of persistent insecurity in some parts of the country, notably Makamba, Bubanza, Bururi and Bujumbura-Rurale provinces. He blamed "infiltration" by "armed groups from Tanzania and to a lesser extent from the Democratic Republic of Congo". He claimed they were trying to "jeopardise the struggle for unity by the transitional government". OCHA-Burundi, in its latest information bulletin, confirmed increasing attacks on displaced camps as well as a rise in fighting between rebels and the army. It noted that continuing insecurity in Bururi province had slowed down the activities of the few organisations working there.

RWANDA: French inquiry a "partisan whitewash"

Rwanda has described the conclusions of a French parliamentary inquiry into the 1994 genocide as a "partisan whitewash". Rwandan radio broadcast a statement from the president's office which said the parlimentary commission was set up to "absolve France of any role in the genocide". France played a "key role" in the genocide and participated in the "disinformation campaign" which misled the international community, the statement said. Later, France set up the "Zone Turquoise" in southwest Rwanda with the aim of reorganising the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia, according to the statement. It added that France had "systematically undermined efforts to address the course and the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda".

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Karaha says Kabila must go

The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) foreign minister Bizima Karaha said on Saturday that peace was impossible in the DRC without the removal of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, AP reported from Ouagadougou. "Today the question is not to know if Kabila will go or not. It is a matter of knowing how and when he will go," Karaha said. "And after Kabila, then what?" Karaha added that a ceasefire was "easy" but Kabila was holding up the process by refusing to talk to the rebels.

Kabila returns to Kinshasa

Meanwhile, Kabila returned to Kinshasa on Friday after the OAU summit in Ouagadougou, state radio said. "Ouagadougou now, and Lusaka next," he told the radio. "It is a chain of conferences" to organise a ceasefire and arrange the withdrawal of foreign troops, he added.

UNITA allegedly smuggling diamonds through Kisangani

According to a diamond industry analyst, it is "highly probable" that the Angolan rebel movement UNITA has opened a new diamond smuggling route through the eastern DRC town of Kisangani. Christine Gordon, a London-based analyst, told IRIN today that "Papa" Philippe Surowicke, the chief diamond buyer of the Belgian company Glasol, opened an office in Kisangani in November. Surowicke is UNITA's "favourite diamond dealer" with long-standing links to the rebel movement, Gordon said. She added that the RCD rebels are also marketing diamonds internationally from the 200 small mines in the Kisangani area.

UGANDA: Army denies links to UNITA

The Ugandan army has denied allegations that UNITA has received military aid from Kampala, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported today. "We have no links with UNITA. We see it as another way by Angola of diverting attention from its increasing internal woes," the newspaper quoted an army source as saying. Last week, Reuters reported an unnamed Angolan military source as claiming that some UNITA soldiers were seen wearing Ugandan and Rwandan military uniforms. The Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA) quoted Angolan sources as alleging that Uganda had provided ammunition and Ukranian-built tanks to UNITA, flown into its bases in Andulo and Bailundo.

A regional security analyst in Cape Town told IRIN today that Ukranian T-55 tanks are being used by UNITA, but could not confirm who had supplied them. According to a London-based Angolan specialist, "arms for UNITA have been going through Kampala for a very long time, organised by South African arms dealers. Whether there is any actual support for UNITA by (President Yoweri) Museveni is unknown." The specialist said rumours of a direct link have existed for several months since rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was reportedly spotted in Kampala. Following Angola's military intervention in the DRC, Museveni told a press conference in September that Uganda would back UNITA unless Luanda withdrew.

Kampala hires consultants to probe army's accounts

The Ugandan government has appointed an international consultancy firm to audit the army's accounts following fraud allegations over the purchase of military equipment, 'The EastAfrican' reported today. The study is being funded by the UK's Department for International Development. Two recent high-profile cases have involved the purchase of second-hand helicopters and tanks from eastern Europe.

Nairobi, 21 December 1998, 14:10 gmt


Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 17:11:19 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 571 for 21 December 1998.12.21

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

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