IRIN Update 583 for 8 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 583 for 8 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. 583 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 8 January 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rwanda denies involvement in massacre

The Rwandan government has denied reports that its troops were involved in an alleged massacre of up to 500 civilians in the south Kivu village of Makobola over the New Year. A statement by Vice President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame yesterday (Thursday) accused the Roman Catholic news service (MISNA) of misinformation. The statement, broadcast on state radio, said the Rwandan army had no military presence in the Makobola area. It added it had no information on a reported Mayi-Mayi attack which MISNA said sparked the alleged reprisal killings.

Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba said yesterday a team was due to leave for Uvira, 15 km from Makobola, to investigate the alleged massacre, Radio Bukavu reported.

Six Red Cross volunteers killed

Meanwhile, ICRC has confirmed the killing of six Congolese Red Cross volunteers "near Uvira" over the New Year. The ICRC in Nairobi told IRIN today (Friday) that the organisation is "in contact with the parties involved in the conflict and is closely following the situation in south Kivu."

CORRECTION: The ICRC wishes to stress that as a purely humanitarian institution it is not carrying out an investigation 'per se' into the alleged Makobola massacre as reported in IRIN Update 582. Its only concern is to bring assistance to possible survivors.

RCD cautious over Kabila offer

The RCD has welcomed in principle an offer of direct talks by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. News reports today quoted Wamba dia Wamba as saying Kabila's offer was a good first step, but contact needed to be made to discuss the venue and agenda of the proposed meeting. Kabila made the offer yesterday, but insisted the talks be held in Kinshasa.

Lusaka peace talks due next week

The long-awaited Lusaka peace talks on the Congo conflict are expected to begin next week. Officials in Lusaka told IRIN today the date would be announced after Zambian President Frederick Chiluba holds a final round of preparatory talks in Harare at the weekend with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Chiluba cautioned after meeting Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice President Kagame in Kigali yesterday that a solution to the DRC conflict "cannot be found in a week or a month". He said the summit talks in Lusaka would follow a meeting of regional foreign affairs and defence ministers, and the RCD would be invited. Chiluba was due to fly on to Kampala today to meet Ugandan officials.

RCD says not officially invited

However, the Rwanda News Agency reported RCD deputy leader Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma as saying today the rebel movement had not received a formal invitation to attend the Lusaka talks and neither had they been informed of the meeting's agenda. "We are fed up with finding ourselves restricted from fully participating to the talks," Ngoma said. "We do not want to go to Lusaka to be kept in luxurious hotels, away from negotiations."

600 DRC refugees reach Kigoma

Close to 600 Congolese refugees fleeing fighting in the DRC have recently arrived in Kigoma, Tanzania. The refugees from the Fizi, Uvira and Bukavu areas reached Kigoma between 29 December and 4 January. UNHCR said the arrivals reported looting and harassment by both government and RCD forces.

UGANDA: UNHCR concerned over forced repatriation

UNHCR in Uganda has expressed its "grave concern" that a large number of DRC refugees may have been forcibly returned to Congo during the first days of January by local security forces. A statement today received by IRIN said UNHCR began the transfer in December of 2,930 refugees who had recently arrived in Kisoro in the southwest, to Kyangwali in Hoima district. However, the operation was suspended on 31 December when a convoy was blocked by the army in Kisoro, leaving over 2,000 refugees behind. "UNHCR has now received reliable information that a large number of the 2,000 refugees were in fact forced back to Congo, while others are still scattered in Uganda," the statement said. It added that a group of 600 refugees has so far been identified and their transfer has been agreed with the local authorities.

Opposition MP arrested

An MP who accused President Yoweri Museveni of corruption has been arrested. Wasswa Lulu was picked up from his home by security officers on Wednesday night, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported yesterday. The arrest followed an article in the private 'Monitor' on Monday in which Lule was quoted as saying Museveni should be investigated for corruption.

Southern Sudan faction registers as party

Pro-Khartoum south Sudan faction leaders have applied for registration as a political party, according to a local newspaper. AFP said the private 'Al-Rai al-Aam' reported today that after a stormy meeting the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) reached a unanimous decision to register the movement under the leadership of the front's chairman Riek Machar. USDF Secretary-General Gebriel Yual said the proposed party would "not harm the alliance between the southerners and the Islamic movement."

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Kolelas sacked by party

Former prime minister Bernard Kolelas has been ousted from the leadership of the MCDDI party. Government radio said on Tuesday the decision was taken by a party meeting in response to the attack on the southern suburbs of Brazzaville in December by Kolelas' Ninja militia.

Nairobi, 8 January 1998 13:45 GMT


Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 16:55:19 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 583 for 8 Jan 1999.1.8

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

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