IRIN Update 579 for 1-4 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 579 for 1-4 Jan 1999

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. 579 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday-Monday 1-4 January 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Splits emerge in rebel alliance

Serious splits have emerged within the leadership of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) over its political direction and allegations of corruption, according to news reports. RCD leaders travelled to Uganda on Saturday and are expected in Rwanda today (Monday) to meet their main foreign backers in a bid to overcome the faction fighting. Reuters quoted rebel officials as saying that the movement has splintered into several competing groups, including those drawn from the former regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, those who previously worked with President Laurent-Desire Kabila, and a younger generation of disaffected politicians. The divisions pit RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba against Lunda Bululu, a former prime minister in Mobutu's government. Bululu supporters cut off Wamba dia Wamba's televised New Year's address from Goma in which he accused his rivals of diverting money intended for rebel soldiers and development projects.

Government soldiers fly into Bangui

Some 300 DRC soldiers were flown into the Central African Republic yesterday (Sunday) for deployment in northwestern Congo, AFP reported from Bangui. The government troops apparently aim to cross the Oubangui river separating Bangui from the DRC Zongo region in a bid to halt an RCD advance in the northwest, the dispatch said. The RCD announced on Saturday they had captured the border town of Zongo - a claim denied by Kinshasa. AFP cited missionary sources as saying pro-government forces had looted Zongo before abandoning it.

Rebels admit loss of Businga

Meanwhile, the RCD has acknowledged the loss of the northwestern town of Businga to allied forces. AP cited a rebel official as saying the town fell to government troops backed by Rwandan Hutu rebels last week after a day of heavy air raids. He said the RCD's concentration on the capture of Gemena, 200 km to the west, had left Businga only lightly defended. There are however still no independently confirmed reports over the status of the eastern town of Fizi, which Zimbabwe said was seized last week by allied forces.

Polio vaccination results released

Preliminary results of the 21-23 December polio vaccination campaign in Kinshasa, Bas-Congo and Kasai Occidental indicate that at least 86 percent of the children under five years of age were immunised in 42 out of 46 health zones in the three provinces, UNICEF said. The four other health zones reported coverage rates of between 59 and 81 percent. In a report received by IRIN, UNICEF said the campaign was also carried out in parts of Kasai Oriental and Katanga, but only in urban areas due to the security situation. An estimated 3.1 million children were targetted in the first round of the campaign. A second round is scheduled for later this month. The polio campaign, disrupted by the outbreak of conflict in August, was originally planned to cover all 10 million children under five throughout the country.

Cholera epidemic continues in South Kivu

The cholera epidemic in South Kivu remains serious, particularly in the Shabunda, Mwenga and Nundu areas, humanitarian sources told IRIN. The sources said a total of 19,097 cholera cases were reported during 1998 up to 24 December, and 1,578 deaths were attributed to the disease. Cholera treatment supplies are now available but there is an urgent need to train local health workers throughout the province, the sources added.

Harare says two-stage solution to conflict

Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge has presented a two-stage solution to the DRC conflict. Briefing journalists on Thursday, he said the first step entailed an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of foreign troops, the Chinese news agency Xinhau reported. Rebel participation would be limited to "proximity talks". The second phase would examine a political settlement in which the rebels would meet in direct negotiations with President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

OAU criticises Rwanda, Uganda

OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim has criticised Rwanda and Uganda for sending troops to the DRC. News media reported Salim as saying in an interview on privately-owned Dar es Salaam Television on Sunday that several countries in the region had interests in the DRC but had not dispatched troops there. He added that the OAU recognised the legitimacy of the Kinshasa government. "The OAU would not force Kabila to meet the rebels and it still believes that peace could be reached even without having direct talks with the rebels," Salim said.

TANZANIA: DRC refugees continue to arrive

People continue to flee Katanga and South Kivu for western Tanzania, with 930 arrivals recorded in Kigoma between 18-28 December, according to UNHCR. In a report received by IRIN, UNHCR said a total of 18,459 Congolese refugees had arrived in Kigoma since August. While most of the 930 latest arrivals - who came from the Uvira, Bukavu, Fizi and Kalemie areas - were reported to be in fairly good health, two severely malnourished children were admitted to a therapeutic feeding centre run by Concern, the report said. There were 59 unaccompanied children among the latest arrivals, it said.

Meanwhile, a total of 4,283 refugees had arrived in Kigoma from Burundi since August, including 180 between 18-28 December, UNHCR said.

SUDAN: Anti-government protest staged in Omdurman

Hundreds of opposition supporters defied a ban on anti-government protest to stage a demonstration in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on Friday, Reuters reported a privately-owned newspaper as saying. The 'Al-Sharia Al-Siyassi' said supporters of the Democratic Unionist Party, the second largest traditional political party in the country, chanted anti-government slogans. The police did not intervene.

Khartoum says in secret talks with Washington

Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has told a local newspaper that Khartoum and Washington are in talks to settle their differences. The privately-owned 'Al-Rai Al-Aam' quoted the minister on Saturday as saying that there have been "extensive" contacts and that Sudan's foreign policy was based on "dialogue", Reuters reported. Washington imposed sanctions on Khartoum in 1997, and has blacklisted the country as a supporter of "international terrorism".

Government kills 34 LRA, rescues captives

Ugandan government forces and Karamajong warriors killed 34 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, including their commander, responsible for an attack on a Karamojong village on Tuesday. The retreating rebels, who had killed three people and abducted 50 in the raid on Morulem village, were caught on the Kotido-Kitgum border on Wednesday, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported on Saturday. The newspaper said that 43 captives were rescued.

Nairobi, 4 January 1998 13:45 GMT


Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 17:24:56 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 579 for 1-4 Jan 1999.1.4

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

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