UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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. 642 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 1 April 1999)
RWANDA: Voter turnout estimated 80-90 percent
Voter turnout in the recently-concluded local elections was estimated at 80-90 percent, according to UN observers. In a summary of observations, received by IRIN today (Thursday), UNDP-Kigali described participation as "very active and quite impressive", with most voters in the 18-40 age bracket. Very few women candidates were either nominated or put themselves forward for election, the report noted. It described the observers' overall impression as quite positive, with no tension and minimal military or government presence. Voting was for the two lowest levels of administration, "cellule" and "secteur". Exiled opposition leader, Faustin Twagiramungu, described the poll as a "masquerade inspired by the mentors of the Kigali regime, notably the United States, to give the illusion of a democratic regime," according to news reports.
Start of week of mourning for genocide victims
Today marked the beginning of a week of mourning for victims of the 1994 genocide, Rwandan radio reported. Flags flew at half-mast in commemoration of the slaughter which was unleashed after the plane of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana was downed over Kigali on 6 April 1994. At least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Catholic bishops concerned over popular tribunals
Catholic bishops in Rwanda have expressed concern over the proposed establishment of popular tribunals, known as "gacaca". During a meeting with Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema recently, they said that while they appreciated this move by the Rwandan government to speed up genocide trials, they were concerned the tribunals "might become an instrument of injustice, especially if they were not well prepared". Their comments were reported by 'Kinyamateka', the mouthpiece of the Rwandan Catholic church. According to the same publication, Rwanda's prison population had decreased from 130,000 to 122,000.
The Rwandan authorities recently announced they would promulgate an organic law establishing the "gacaca" which would operate at four levels - cellule, secteur, commune and prefecture - and try accused people in the second and third categories of Rwanda's genocide law. Defendants will have the right of appeal to a superior court. The law defines four categories of genocide crimes, with first category defendants accused of planning and executing the genocide.
BURUNDI: University to reopen
The government has announced that it will reopen the country's university in Bujumbura, after a one-month closure, the Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday (Wednesday). Citing official sources in Bujumbura, it said the closure was prompted by a student protest in demand of better accommodation, security and transport. Burundi University Chancellor Gilbert Midende was quoted as saying issues such as campus security and improved accommodation had been addressed. Registration is due to start today.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Namibian president urges dialogue
Namibian President Sam Nujoma, one of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's allies in the DRC conflict, has called for dialogue rather than military action to resolve the issue, 'The Namibian' daily reported yesterday. Speaking at a dinner in Windhoek for visiting Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi, Nujoma said however a "security vacuum" should not be allowed to develop "which would lead to the undoing of the gains to be achieved by a peace process..." He agreed that all foreign forces must withdraw from DRC, but "a clear distinction should be made regarding the invading forces and those invited by the government of President Laurent Kabila".
5.5 percent acute malnutrition among children in Bas-Congo
Results of an NGO nutrition survey in the western province of Bas-Congo revealed that 5.5 percent of children were acutely malnourished, with under one percent of these severely malnourished. The UNICEF-funded survey, conducted by Action Against Hunger (AICF-USA) between 22 February and 5 March, measured some 900 children under five years of age in the Lukaya district of Bas-Congo.
"The results are not so worrying in terms of moderate and severe malnutrition, but they indicate more long-term problems that require agricultural and food security interventions," Action Against Hunger nutritionist Caroline Wilkinson told IRIN today. The survey showed that 43.5 percent of the children were suffering from chronic malnutrition, or stunted growth, she said. The survey also estimated that only 34.5 percent of children had been vaccinated against measles.
Displaced bring added strain for host families
Local NGO sources report that some 31,000 people displaced from the Rutshuru area have moved towards Goma. The town is also hosting displaced people from Masisi, South Kivu and other areas. The displaced are staying with friends or relatives, which has compounded the difficult economic situation of the host families, humanitarian sources said. Over 1,400 malnourished children have been recorded in Goma, the sources added. Meanwhile, over 570 measles cases have been registered in six health zones of North Kivu since January, according to local health authority figures.
Nairobi, 1 April 1999, 13:50 gmt
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 17:08:25 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 642 for 1 April
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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