IRIN Update 575 for 25-28 Dec 1998.12.28

IRIN Update 575 for 25-28 Dec 1998.12.28

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. 575 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday-Monday 25-28 December 1998)

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Fighting reported in southwest

Last week's fighting in Brazzaville abated, but the Congolese government reported clashes in the southwest of the country. According to media reports, a government statement, broadcast over state radio on Friday, said "a climate of tension" reigned in the Niari region, while government troops and opposition Cocoye militia had clashed at Nkayi in nearby Bouenza region. The two areas are strongholds of ousted president Pascal Lissouba. Congolese Information Minister Francois Ibovi claimed the Democratic Republic of Congo was being used a springboard for attacks against his country. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in clashes in southern suburbs of Brazzaville last week between the Ninja militia of former premier Bernard Kolelas and government troops.

Meanwhile, the exiled Congolese opposition has called for talks with President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Former finance minister and opposition spokesman Mbila Mungunga Kombo told Radio France Internationale that international pressure could bring Sassou Nguesso to the negotiating table. He claimed the Brazzaville fighting was an "expression of the government's weakness".

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government says no Ninja training camp in Bacongo

The DRC strongly denied the presence of a Ninja militia training camp on its territory. A statement issued by the DRC armed forces, broadcast over state television on Saturday, expressed surprise over the allegations by Congo-Brazzaville. "It is inconceivable that the DRC, which is at war, could harbour and train Ninja militiamen in the Bacongo province to destablise the other Congo," the statement said.

Yesterday (Sunday), Congolese Justice Minister Pierre Nze led a three-person delegation to Kinshasa to discuss the war situation in both countries, DRC state television reported. DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi said the two sides would discuss a common approach to the conflicts. He stressed the people of Kinshasa had been worried by the fighting across the Congo river believing an "imminent attack" on the DRC capital was being prepared. Nze's visit would serve to reassure the people, he added.

Kabila, rebels, Museveni meet separately with Gaddafi

Libya was the focus of negotiations on DRC over the Christmas period, with separate visits by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Kabila and Wamba dia Wamba on Saturday held separate talks with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi but did not meet face-to-face. Museveni flew into Tripoli yesterday to discuss the DRC crisis, the Libyan news agency JANA reported.

Ahead of his visit to Libya, Kabila had gone to the Kamina military base in Katanga province to acquaint himself with the situation in the field. State television on Thursday described the trip as a "working and morale-boosting visit".

Rwanda, Uganda deny clashes between their soldiers

At least 38 soldiers were killed when Ugandan and Rwandan troops, deployed to fight alongside DRC rebels, turned on each other, the independent Ugandan 'Monitor' newspaper reported yesterday. It cited a senior Ugandan military officer who said fighting broke out between the two sides after they disagreed on which rebel group to support. According to the officer, the Ugandans appear to be backing the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba which is active in Equateur province, while the Rwandans support the mainstream Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). "The RCD is nothing on the ground. They were just handpicked by Kigali after their planned coup against Kabila failed," the officer said, according to the 'Monitor'. "When you go areas where Bemba operates, you see some signs of real insurrection by the Congolese people themselves". He did not say when or where the clashes occurred.

Ugandan Defence Minister Steven Kauma however denied the clash report, AFP said. He claimed they were untrue and "just aimed at souring relations" between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies. Rwanda today (Monday) also rejected the report, which alleged 30 of the dead soldiers were Rwandan. "Our soldiers never fought against Ugandan soldiers, even with their fists," said army spokesman Major Emmanuel Ndahiro, according to AFP. He admitted however there had been "disagreements" over how to handle the DRC war.

RWANDA: Lusaka summit postponement not down to Rwanda, minister says

Meanwhile, Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana denied his country was reponsible for the postponement of the Lusaka summit on the DRC conflict, due to have been held 27-28 December, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Friday. Media reports had claimed Rwanda was unhappy about some of the clauses of a prospective peace deal between Kabila and the rebels. Gasana described the allegations as "lies". "Even in Ougadougou [at the OAU meeting], I was ready to sign the deal on behalf of the Rwandan government, had it been concluded," he said. Some reports say the Lusaka meeting was postponed because it was too close to Christmas and the New Year.

Cholera outbreak in Gisenyi kills eight

Eight people have died in a cholera outbreak in the northwest Gisenyi prefecture, RNA reported. It quoted Gisenyi's director of health services, Erasme Sarambuye, who said 109 more people were in a critical condition. The worst-affected area was Nyamyumba commune on the shores of Lake Kivu. The first cholera cases were registered in the area on 3 December, Sarambuye said, adding that emergency measures had been taken to contain the outbreak.

BURUNDI: Seven killed by rebels

Seven people were killed by rebels in southern Burundi last week, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. It said four people were hacked to death with machetes in Rumonge commune, Bururi province on Wednesday, and three more people lost their lives on Tuesday night in the same commune. The rebels reportedly left behind pamphlets "to intimidate the people", ABP said.

Nairobi, 28 December 1998, 13:10 gmt


Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 16:30:17 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 575 for 25-28 Dec 1998.12.28

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

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