IRIN Update 584 for 9-11 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 584 for 9-11 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. 584 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 9-11 January 1999)

BURUNDI: Regional summit to discuss Burundi

Regional leaders are due to meet in Arusha, Tanzania on 23 January to discuss the Burundi situation, AFP reported today (Monday). It quoted Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete as saying the summit was likely to suspend, but not cancel, the embargo. The Arusha peace process, bringing together various sides in the Burundi conflict, resumes on 18 January.

Sanctions have passed "sell-by date"

A new report on Burundi sanctions, commissioned by ActionAid, says the policy has passed its "sell-by date". The embargo should have been lifted after the new political partnership between the government and the opposition FRODEBU party, which the report described as a turning point in the history of sanctions. Humanitarian exemptions to the embargo have not sufficed to reverse a decline in social indicators, and vulnerable people have been more and more affected by the sanctions which have made it difficult for donors and creditors to provide fresh credit, development assistance and balance of payments support to Burundi.

The report notes that many of the regional players originally involved in imposing sanctions now want them lifted, with the exception of Uganda, Tanzania and the peace process mediator Julius Nyerere. It argues that the latter, "by acting so inflexibly" has given President Pierre Buyoya an "astonishing propaganda victory" by allowing observers to conclude it is Nyerere and not the Burundian government who is obstructing a peace settlement.

The report says the current outlook appears to indicate sanctions will soon

be lifted, but recommends the embargo should end for the "right reasons" and not due to international pressure on Nyerere. By linking the end of sanctions to issues such as the new partnership and ongoing political dialogue, something positive will have been achieved from the move.

[For further information contact Sarah Collinson, Policy Division, ActionAid. Tel: 44-171-561-7559, email:]

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Makobola residents say 600 massacred

The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) allegedly killed as many as 600 civilians in the southern Kivu town of Makobola over the New Year, residents told AFP on Saturday. The dispatch said RCD officials who accompanied journalists to the small town claimed only 23 people were killed including 10 civilians caught in crossfire during a clash with Mayi-Mayi fighters. According to AFP, a large proportion of the town's 4,300 population have escaped into the forest. Those remaining said they feared retribution by the RCD if they talked to journalists about the alleged massacre. Meanwhile, the DRC government has demanded an international inquiry into the Makobola incident, state TV said on Friday.

Lusaka summit set for weekend

The Lusaka summit on the DRC conflict is set for next weekend. Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said in Harare yesterday (Sunday) after meeting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that the meeting would take place after a gathering of regional foreign and defence minsters. Chiluba would not comment on the status of rebel participation at the talks. "Originally we were toying with the idea of engaging them [rebels] in proximity talks and we have succeeded hitherto. Whether or not this will continue will depend on circumstances that have unfolded," AFP quoted Chiluba as saying. "But we want the meeting to succeed by engaging every party to the conflict in the talks," he added.

Chiluba postponed a planned trip to South Africa yesterday to enable him to conclude a round of consultations with other regional leaders, news reports said. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall is due to attend the Lusaka meeting, a UN statement received by IRIN said.

Tshisekedi calls for a truce

Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi on Friday called for an immediate truce in the DRC conflict, AFP reported. In a New Year's "message to the Congolese people", Tshisekedi called for a ceasefire to be imposed "rapidly" and for the international community to ask foreign forces to withdraw.

France denies funding Zimbabwe's intervention

French officials in Harare yesterday denied that Paris was helping to pay for Zimbabwe's military intervention in the DRC. "France does not help in financing the war effort of any of the countries involved in the conflict, and renews its calls for a ceasefire," the German news agency DPA reported a senior envoy in the French embassy as saying.

Rebels lose northern border town, missionaries say

AFP yesterday quoted missionaries as saying that RCD rebels were driven out of the northern border town of Libenge on Friday. According to the dispatch, the town was captured in a joint operation by the Zimbabwean air force and government troops who had crossed from the Central African Republic. A priest quoted by AFP said civilians were killed in the Zimbabwean air raid.

Bemba predicts fall of Gbadolite

Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba has claimed his forces are poised to capture the key town of Gbadolite. He told Saturday's edition of the Belgian newspaper 'De Financieel Economishce Tijd' that once he has taken Kinshasa, elections would be organised in six months, Reuters reported.

UGANDA: UNHCR finds 400 more DRC refugees

UNHCR reported on Friday that another 400 DRC refugees have been discovered in Kisoro, southwestern Uganda. The group had returned from the DRC after being expelled by the Ugandan army. UNHCR said the refugees are be transported to Kyangwali refugee camp in Hoima district. In addition, some 1,000 refugees out of a total of 2,000 who had been stranded in Kisoro have been found, the statement said.

New rebel group launched

A policemen was killed in a raid by armed men in Mbale district, eastern Uganda on Wednesday night. The attackers dropped leaflets proclaiming a new rebel group called the "Uganda Salvage Front/Army", the semi-official 'New Vision' said on Friday.

Opposition MP released after questioning

Opposition MP Wasswa Lule who was detained by police on Wednesday night was released after several hours of questioning on a police bond, the 'New Vision' reported on Friday. Lule told journalists after his release that he had been "psychologically tortured" for criticising President Yoweri Museveni and "other untouchables".

Nairobi, 11 January 1999 15:00 GMT


Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 18:11:24 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 584 for 9-11 Jan 1999.1.11

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

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