IRIN Update 650 for 15 April, 4/15/99

IRIN Update 650 for 15 April, 4/15/99

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. 650 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 15 April 1999)

RWANDA: Bishop held on genocide charges

The Catholic bishop of Gikongoro prefecture, Augustin Misago, was arrested on Wednesday night in connection with genocide crimes, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. It pointed out this is the first time in Rwanda's history that a bishop has been detained. The bishop was travelling to attend a meeting in Kigali, when his vehicle was intercepted by the military. He being held at the Muhima military prison in Kigali.

Misago was publicly accused by President Pasteur Bizimungu during a memorial service for genocide victims in Kibeho, Gikongoro prefecture, on 7 April. He said the bishop was "not above the law", and asked how long would the Catholic church "continue to ignore accusations by Christians" against Misago.

Genocide survivors accuse the 56-year-old bishop of "personally organising meetings of killers in Kibeho". Among the allegations against him are responsibility for the disappearance of 30 girls who sought his protection during the genocide, and the massacre of 22 clerics. Rwandan radio quoted the Kigali state prosecutor, Emmanuel Rukangira, as saying Misago would be tried in either Kigali or Gikongoro on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo added that Misago's arrest meant "his colleagues could be detained anytime in the future".

According to Hirondelle, Rwandan bishops who met in Kigali on Wednesday, called on Christians to "pray for this pastor, and for the Church in Rwanda, so that it remains unshakable in its faith".

The missionary news agency MISNA, meanwhile, on Thursday said Misago was the victim of a "judicial system whose aim is to tarnish the image of the Catholic church". MISNA claimed a "witchhunt" was underway. It said Misago had written an open letter protesting his innocence.

Former minister pleads not guilty to genocide charges

Former information minister Eliezer Niyitegeka on Thursday pleaded not guilty to six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. He is accused of committing the crimes in Bisesero, Kibuye prefecture, against thousands of mainly Tutsis who sought refuge from attacks between April and June 1994.

ICTR registrar notes good progress

The registrar of the ICTR, Agwu Ukiwe Okali, has said the tribunal is now proceeding well after a series of administrative and logistical problems. Addressing a news conference in New York, he also said the ICTR was now receiving "excellent cooperation" from the Rwandan government. Responding to allegations that the ICTR was moving too slowly, he said steps had been taken to speed up the process. The rules of procedure had been revised, making trials much faster, he said. Proposals for joint trials were also under consideration.

BURUNDI: Disagreement in Arusha

Delegates from 18 Burundian parties and organisations, meeting in Arusha to discuss the nature of the conflict in their country, have disagreed over the historical influence of events in neighbouring Rwanda, Hirondelle news agency reported. It said the Tutsi parties claimed the 1959 events in Rwanda, which drove thousands of Tutsis into exile, had influenced developments in Burundi. Jean Minani, exiled president of the mainly-Hutu FRODEBU party, told Hirondelle the influence on Burundi was "minimal".

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ceasefire talks underway in Lusaka

Talks on organising a ceasefire in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo are underway in Lusaka, Zambia. "These are technical talks to prepare for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement," a senior Zambian official told IRIN on Thursday.

Regional military and diplomatic officials have gathered in Lusaka for the scheduled three day meeting. Both DRC government and rebel delegations were expected to arrive on Thursday, the Zambian official said. [For full story, see IRIN-SA item of 15 April headlined "Congo ceasefire talks underway in Lusaka"]

NGO activist freed

Baudouin Hamuli Kabarhuza, president of the NGO consortium, Conseil national des organisations non-gouvernementales de developpement du Congo (CNONGD) was freed by the DRC authorities on Wednesday night, civil society groups reported on Thursday.

He was detained earlier this month by the security forces upon his return from a conference in South Africa to discuss the DRC conflict. The authorities, who did not take part in the meeting, accused him of collaborating with the country's enemies. Human rights and civil society groups have been actively campaigning for his release.

Eleven publicly executed as "deterrent"

Eleven people convicted of carrying out armed attacks were executed by firing squad in Mbuji-Mayi on Tuesday, AFP reported. Citing the Kinshasa daily newspaper, 'Le Phare', the agency said the 11, sentenced to death by a military tribunal, were executed in public "as a deterrent".

EU envoy in Addis to discuss DRC peace

The European Union's special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday on the first leg of a regional tour to support the search for peace in the DRC. Ajello is due to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and representatives of the OAU. Ajello is due to proceed to Chad on Sunday and continue later to Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

UNHCR considers limited return to eastern DRC

Following a joint-agency mission to North and South Kivu, UNHCR is considering a limited return to the east of the country. The agency said on Thursday its presence would be limited to two international staff members addressing refugee protection and the repatriation of Rwandans remaining in the area. Staff would also monitor and report on security and the prevailing humanitarian situation.

UGANDA: UNHCR registers 165 Sudanese refugees

Meanwhile, UNHCR in Kampala has said that it registered 165 Sudanese refugees arriving in Uganda from northeastern parts of DRC between the start of March and 7 April, and has word of an additional group of 23 families said to be en route.

An earlier WFP report had indicated the possibility that up to 10,000 Sudanese refugees might seek to cross into Uganda, and that the agency was making contingency plans on that basis.

10 killed by ADF rebels

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Wednesday attacked a trading centre in the western Kabarole district, killing 10 people and injuring two others, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported on Thursday. It said the rebels launched an early morning attack on Nyakifumba trading centre in Bunyangabu. At least five houses were burnt as the rebels retreated to their bases in the Rwenzori mountains, the newspaper said. Some 100 people are reported to have fled their homes.

Nairobi, 15 April 1999, 15:00 gmt


Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 18:17:50 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 650 for 15 April [19990415]

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

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