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IRIN Update No. 645 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 8 April 1999)
RWANDA: No Rwandan above the law, Bizimungu says
President Pasteur Bizimungu has said that no Rwandan is above the law concerning the 1994 genocide. Addressing a reburial ceremony for 20,000 victims in Kibeho, Gikongoro prefecture, on Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the genocide, he asked how long would the Catholic church "continue to ignore accusations by Christians" against Gikongoro's bishop, Augustin Misago. The bishop, who was present at the ceremony, has been accused of involvement in the killings. "The Rwandan state did not place Bishop Misago above the law and is not afraid of him," Bizimungu said, according to Rwandan radio. "We shall only intervene if the church continues to do nothing."
Reiterating earlier comments by Vice-President Paul Kagame, Bizimungu stressed Rwandan troops were in the Democratic Republic of Congo "because those who killed us are still there and they still want to pursue their killing from there". "Some of those accusing us of fighting in DRC against the Interahamwe, are currently fighting the Interahamwe of Milosevic in Kosovo," he pointed out.
He stressed the determination of the Rwandan people to "rebuild themselves". "If we succeed in meeting the challenge, there will be no more mourning," he said.
International community urged to help Rwanda
The UN Special Representative on human rights in Rwanda, Michel Moussalli, has urged the international community to adopt a comprehensive and systematic approach towards providing Rwanda with financial and technical assistance. Addressing the UN human rights commission in Geneva, he said there were "continuing obligations" to be fulfilled by the Rwandan government. Fear and mistrust still existed in Rwandan society, he said, noting "violations of human rights by agents of the state to suppress the feelings of revenge".
However Rwanda's representative Gerald Gahima told the commission that Moussalli's report did not adequately spell out the "very positive changes" in the country's human rights situation. While Rwanda acknowledged that individual members of the security forces had on occasion committed human rights violations, it "most vehemently protested the implication that its armed forces ever had a policy or practice of indiscriminate killings of innocent non-combatants during counter-insurgency operations". Gahima called on the international community to take a stand against the spread of the genocide ideology in the Great Lakes region.
BURUNDI: Lifting of embargo has "restored confidence"
The first deputy speaker of Burundi's interim National Assembly, Frederic Nguenzi-Buhoro, has said the recent suspension of the regional embargo will not have immediate consequences but it has restored confidence, particularly among Burundian businessmen. He told Radio France Internationale, however, that the cost of living situation had not improved, and imported goods were very costly. But the lifting of the embargo would undoubtedly contribute to peace and security in the country, he said.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Congolese franc devalued
The government has devalued the Congolese franc by 35.5 per cent, to 4.5 francs to one US dollar, the Agence congolaise de presse (ACP) said on Thursday. It quoted Economy and Industry Minister Bemba Saolona as saying that the new rate will permit businesses to calculate the prices of their goods and services "at a realistic cost, close to what a number of them were already doing". All those who attempt to increase their prices in response to the latest devaluation will be considered "saboteurs", Saolona added. The foreign exchange rate on the black market had reached up to 5.3 francs to the dollar in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, a market survey in Kinshasa revealed a general inflation rate of 5.7 per cent in February, with food prices increasing by 14 per cent, diplomatic sources said.
Nairobi, 8 April 1999, 15:30 gmt
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 18:36:02 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 645 for 8 April 
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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