IRIN Update 580 for 5 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 580 for 5 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. 580 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 5 January 1999)


A threatened split within the rebel Rassemblement congolaise pour la democratie (RCD) has been averted after talks with senior Ugandan and Rwandan officials, the Associated Press reported rebel leaders as saying today (Tuesday). AP quoted RCD president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba as announcing: "We have agreed on the objectives of the struggle". He added that the 28-member RCD assembly would meet tomorrow (Wednesday) in Goma to vote on expanding the rebel leadership, to create a broader-based movement. The RCD's faction feuding essentially pits Wamba dia Wamba against Mobutu's former prime minister Lunda Bululu. AP said that Bululu was unavailable for comment on the reported reconciliation. An earlier motion to enlarge the assembly to include leaders from areas captured by the rebels, tabled by second vice-president Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, was recently defeated, AFP reported.

Rebel leader says political rivals threaten RCD

In a hard-hitting New Year's address, Wamba dia Wamba lashed out at power-hungry and corrupt ex-Mobutuists in the movement who threaten to "destroy" the RCD. In the broadcast, a copy of which has been received by IRIN, Wamba dia Wamba said: "We will not allow that our politics of openness serves only these former rulers who have ruined our country and who are now looking to confiscate all power and to destroy the RCD movement." He added the RCD assembly was a "syndicate" controlled by ex-Mobutuists opposed to accountability and professionalism. Wamba dia Wamba's address, broadcast from Goma, was cut off by his political rivals, news reports said.

Rebel envoy appointed to Uganda

The RCD has, meanwhile, appointed a permanent envoy to Uganda, the semi-official 'New Vision' said yesterday (Monday). The representative Gaston Mubawa Kangere is an ally of Wamba dia Wamba, the newspaper reported.

Peace summit scheduled for next week

The delayed DRC peace summit has been scheduled for between 12-16 January in Lusaka, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba told AP yesterday. He said RCD rebels would attend the meeting but did not say whether they would participate in proximity talks or direct face-to-face negotiations with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Pretoria insists on rebel participation

Meanwhile, South Africa continues to insist on rebel participation in the scheduled summit. South Africa's High Commission to Zimbabwe said in a letter to the official 'Herald' newspaper published today that "only all-inclusive negotiations involving all parties to the conflict" can lead to peace, AFP reported. The letter refuted a claim made by the 'Herald' last week that RCD participation would amount to "elevating rebels to heads of state".

Conflicting battlefield claims

The RCD has denied government claims to have recaptured the eastern towns of Nyunzu and Moba. A rebel leader in Goma told Reuters yesterday that the towns lie hundreds of kilometres within RCD-held territory. Both sides have issued conflicting accounts of military advances in recent days.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Government offensive underway against Ninjas

Government forces yesterday launched an offensive southwest of Brazzaville against Ninja militia loyal to ousted prime minister Bernard Kolelas, news reports said. Artillery and tanks were used in a bid to clear the Ninja rebels from hills 20 km from the capital to which they had retreated after attacking the southern suburbs of Brazzaville last month. The government offensive began in the Ganga-Lingolo area of the Pool region supported by Angolan troops, AFP reported. A humanitarian corridor has been set up, allowing civilians in the hills to flee to the southern suburbs of Brazzaville.

Cameroon sends food aid

Neighbouring Cameroon has sent 13 mt of food aid to Brazzaville to help feed some 50,000 people displaced by recent fighting in the capital, Reuters reported officials as saying on Saturday. The food arrived by air on Friday and will be distributed to the displaced from the southern suburbs of Brazzaville sheltered in 15 sites in the north of the capital.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Opposition ministers quit government

Ten opposition ministers yesterday quit the Central African Republic's coalition government to protest the "hijacking" of legislative elections held in December, AFP reported. In their joint resignation letter the ministers accused the ruling party of President Ange-Felix Patasse for allegedly buying an opposition MP to secure an absolute parliamentary majority.


The first information-exchange meeting of the New Year will be held on Wednesday, 6 January at UNOCHA House, Gigiri, at 10.00 a.m.

Nairobi, 5 January 1998 13:20 GMT


Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 16:21:03 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 580 for 5 Jan 1999.1.5

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

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