IRIN Update 601 for 3 Feb 1999

IRIN Update 601 for 3 Feb 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. 601 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 3 February 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Opposition slams party decree

The stringent conditions set by the government for the legalisation of political parties has been condemned by the opposition. A UPDS statement said the party did not recognise the decree issued by President Laurent-Desire Kabila at the weekend. The party said it was calling on its supporters "to be ready to keep on fighting so as to make the dictatorship loosen up," PANA reported yesterday (Tuesday).

Uvira reported to be "very tense"

Humanitarian and local sources report Uvira is "very tense" due to a continuing "stand-off" between Rwandans and Banyamulenge factions in the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). Some sources told IRIN the Rwandans had given the Banyamulenge a deadline of this Friday to comply with demands to reduce their presence in the area. At least one Congolese rebel soldier was killed and four others wounded in clashes between the two factions on 24 January.

The trouble apparently started after a Rwandan army commander, Colonel Dan Gapfizi, and several of the men under his command arrested four army officials from the Banyamulenge Tutsi group within the RCD. The Rwandans have reportedly demanded the return of the four men and other prisoners "liberated" from Uvira prison during the incident by the Banyamulenge. The sources reported an increased military presence in the town and said up to six tanks had been sighted. The governor of South Kivu is reported to have left the area without having been able to achieve a satisfactory resolution.

Peace committees meet in Lusaka

Military and security officials began talks in Lusaka today on securing a DRC ceasefire, Reuters reported. But the RCD dismissed the meetings as meaningless without their participation. Two committees have been established to hash out a ceasefire and an agreement on border security issues. The first committee comprises Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DRC, OAU and officials of SADC and the UN. The second team includes officials from Zambia, Kenya, Mauritius, Botswana, OAU, SADC and UN. "The idea is for the two teams to work in parallel lines and deal with the two issues separately," Reuters quoted a Zambian official as saying.

BURUNDI: Rebel attacks spark displacement

A series of rebel attacks on southern Makamba on 13-14 January led to a "massive displacement" of the local population, humanitarian sources report. Two communes particularly hard hit are Mabanda and Kibago. According to official figures, 30,000 people were displaced. Humanitarian sources said the numbers "seem to be exaggerated", but thousands were forced out of their homes. Most of them are living in schools and administrative buildings that have access to sanitation and safe water. However, several thousands are living in sites that have no such access, the reports say. Although people are returning to their communes, the "situation remains extremely tense". Rebel tactics appear to have been well coordinated and they are believed to be better armed than in the past. The local population is also well armed.

Meanwhile, unrest continues in Bujumbura rurale. Some 6,800 people - according to government figures - are living in "very basic" conditions at Karinzi IDP site. Many are sheltering in dwellings made of wood and leaves and access to their fields is dependent on military escorts.

TANZANIA: Refugee radio coverage extended

Radio Kwizera's new transmitter is now operational covering refugee camps in the Kigoma region, according to a report by the Jesuit Refugee Service. Reception tests carried out last week showed that the signal is being received in the camps of Mtendeli, Kanembwa and Mukungwa. The low-lying Nduta camp may require a booster station. Government authorities and the UN have welcomed the venture since Kigoma is one of the most isolated and underdeveloped regions in Tanzania. "The venture helps communication between the refugees and local people. The huge presence of refugees in this region has caused tensions. The need for dialogue is urgent given the presence of the dual economies of refugees/NGOs and that of the local populations, environmental damage and pressure on water," the JRS report said.

Meanwhile, JRS has agreed to provide pre-schools for all six-year-olds in Lukole A and B camps, following community requests. Pre-schools built to date are considered highly successful so an extra four will be built this year, two in each camp. The contractors use local materials and parents often provide labour.

Gold bonanza forecast

Analysts are tipping Tanzania as the new star of African mineral producers, according to the Financial Times. Last year Tanzania attracted more capital expenditure than any other African country. Its first gold mine, Golden Pride, is to open this weekend. It should produce some 180,000 ounces a year initially. But it will soon be dwarfed by Bulyanhulu, which is forecast to yield more than 300,000 ounces annually by the year 2,000. When all new projects are on stream, Tanzania is expected to produce 1 million ounces of gold a year.

TANZANIA/UGANDA: Joint border patrols agreed

A joint Tanzanian-Ugandan security force is to be formed to check mounting insecurity and cattle rustling along the common border, 'The Monitor' reported yesterday. The decision followed a security meeting last month in Mbarara, the private newspaper said.

SUDAN: First party registered in pluralist system

A breakaway faction of Sudan's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has become the first registered group since a multi-party system was reinstated at the beginning of the year, Reuters quoted a leading newspaper as saying yesterday. The private 'Al-Usbua' daily published a notice by the registrar saying: "The Democratic Unionist Party is registered as a political organisation which gives it the right to practise political activities and to compete in elections.'' The party was registered on Monday. About 30 groups have started registration procedures since the political associations law came into force on 1 January.

Communists freed

Meanwhile, AFP reported that members of a breakaway faction of the outlawed Sudanese Communist Party who were arrested as they held a press conference on Monday were freed later the same day following the intervention of government officials Among those detained was Warraq Sidahmed, leader of the Modern Democratic Forces Movement (Haq), a splinter faction of the Communist Party, who was making his first public appearance after 10 years in hiding. Haq has now renamed itself the Cultural Enlightenment Society, apparently to avoid being dubbed a political party, and called the press conference under this new name.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Annan calls for peacekeeping extension

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) should stay on in the country until presidential elections scheduled for the latter half of this year. In his latest report to the Security Council on the mission, Annan said MINURCA "has been and remains a source of much needed stability" in the country and the subregion as a whole, the UN information service reported yesterday. Welcoming a letter addressed to him by President Ange Felix Patasse outlining the government's commitments to carry out a number of reforms, Annan said they represent an indispensable condition for further progress. According to the Secretary-General, satisfactory action on these commitments could result in the early participation of the opposition, adoption by the National Assembly of a budget and legislation to restructure the armed forces. He suggested an initial extension of the MINURCA mandate for a period of six months until 31 August, subject to a further determination by the Security Council after three months that the government has made acceptable progress in carrying out the reforms.

KENYA: Envoys express concern over violence

Fourteen diplomatic missions in Nairobi yesterday expressed concern over police "excesses" and destruction of private property by demonstrators in the violence that rocked Nairobi in recent days, a statement received by IRIN said. However, the missions, all members of the Democratic Development Group (DDG), noted: "The abuse of public assets is a matter of continuing concern to members of the DDG. The members, therefore, call upon all parties involved to strive for legal and democratic solutions to the present problems in order to assure transparency and respect for the law in the allocation of public lands in Kenya, including the Karura forest."

AIDS: Breakthrough on mother-child HIV transmission

A new, simpler and cheaper strategy for cutting HIV infection from mothers to their babies has been discovered, according to preliminary findings. Trials conducted by UNAIDS in South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania demonstrated that mother-child infection rates could be reduced by 37 percent with a short course of AZT and 3TC at the time of delivery. Prior to this "breakthrough", the shortest regimen began during the mother's 36th week of pregnancy, a UNAIDS statement said. Follow-up data is still being analysed, but early reports from other studies among breastfeeding mothers suggests the preventive effects last for at least six months. Manufacturer Glaxo Wellcome has pledged to reduce the price of both AZT and 3TC.

Nairobi, 3 February 1999, 14:30 GMT


1999-02-03 18:23:50 10849e-0000eb-00 <= H=( [] U=root P=smtp S=10555

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 18:23:49 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 601 for 3 Feb 1999.2.3

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,