IRIN Update 652 for 4/19/99

IRIN Update 652 for 4/19/99

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. 652 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 19 April 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Museveni, Kabila sign ceasefire accord

President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni have put their names to a ceasefire accord, brokered in Sirte, Libya by the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Also present at the weekend meeting were the presidents of Chad and Eritrea, Idriss Deby and Isayas Afewerki. According to the Libyan news agency Jana, the agreement also provides for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in the Great Lakes region, the withdrawal of foreign troops and urges a national dialogue in DRC with the participation of all sides. The mini-summit reportedly called for the continued mediation of Gaddafi in the Great Lakes peace process.

In a speech broadcast by Libyan television, Gaddafi hailed the agreement as the "beginning of a tangible solution to the greatest current problem in Africa". Speaking after the signing ceremony on Sunday, he said the "revolutionary African will" that had brought about this accord could now be applied to other conflict areas, such as the Horn.

Great Lakes analyst Filip Reyntjens told IRIN on Monday details of the ceasefire agreement were still sketchy, but as a first analysis, the situation was "probably better than a week ago", given that rivals Museveni and Kabila were both present. However, he pointed out that past ceasefire agreements had failed to hold. The fact that Museveni had unilaterally gone to Libya was "not friendly to Rwanda", Reyntjens said, and probably signalled a difference of opinion between the two countries. It was possible Museveni might want to opt out of DRC, as public opinion at home was unfavourable to Uganda's involvement in the war which was very costly.

Another regional analyst said Museveni was "playing for time" and "waiting for Kabila to fall by himself". There has been increasing unrest in Kinshasa as the economic constraints of the war take their toll. By signing this peace accord, Museveni hoped to stop Libya's flow of arms to Kabila via Chad and "therefore involve Libya in peace efforts rather than confrontation".

Museveni meets rebel leaders

Before leaving for Libya, Museveni held talks in Kampala with two DRC rebel leaders, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and Jean-Pierre Bemba, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported. He called on the rival leaders to unite in the interests of peace. The newspaper quoted Wamba as saying he did not leave Goma due splits within the main rebel group Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), but had gone to Kisangani to "quell tensions" there. He had held talks with Bemba, who leads the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) which, he hoped, would lead to a "real rapprochement".

Rebels walk out of Lusaka peace talks

Meanwhile, an RCD delegation attending peace talks in Lusaka, Zambia that opened on Thursday, walked out of the meeting, Zambian radio reported. They said their request to meet Kabila face-to-face had been rejected. Rwanda did not send a team to the Lusaka meeting, claiming it was pointless unless the RCD was directly involved in peace talks.

Internal dialogue to be held in Rome

DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi said the various factions in the conflict would meet in Rome under the mediation of the Catholic Sant'Egidio Community, which has been involved in brokering African conflicts in the past. According to Reuters, he said the talks would begin on 30 April within the framework of a national debate, proposed by Kabila last month. The rebel side was due to send the names of its representatives direct to Sant'Egidio, he added.

Professor Reyntjens told IRIN the fact that some 150 delegates had agreed to take part in the internal dialogue was "positive". He believed the ceasefire agreement should be linked to the Rome meeting. "It could strengthen Kabila's position," he said. "If they [DRC sides] settle their differences in Rome, there will be no justification for outside interference."

RWANDA: End to transitional government in sight

Vice-President Paul Kagame has spoken of the "beginning of the end" of the transitional government, the Rwandan weekly 'New Times' reported. Speaking at a news conference, he hailed the recently-held local elections and said if such events continued successfully the transition could end "within two or three years". But he pointed out, there were still "certain specific problems" that must be overcome before that time.

Era of West's democracy formula over, EU envoy says

The EU special envoy to the Great Lakes, Aldo Ajello, also praised the local elections. Speaking during a visit to Rwanda last week, he expressed support for the queuing method of voting, stressing it would have been difficult for intimidation to take place under that system. "What was really important was that people were allowed to choose their preferred candidates," he said, in comments broadcast by Rwandan radio. "We are now demonstrating respect for African countries' opinions and ways of running things," he added. The era of the West's "ready-made formula for democracy" was gone, he said.

Arrested bishop transferred to Kigali prison

The bishop of Gikongoro prefecture, Augustin Misago, arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 genocide, has been transferred to Kigali central prison, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The Kigali prosecutor Emmanuel Rukangira said Misago's file was "pretty well advanced" and he may appear in court in the next few days.

Bizimungu accuses another priest

Meanwhile President Pasteur Bizimungu has accused another priest of involvement in the genocide. Speaking in Burundi on Saturday, he named the accused person as Froduald Seromba who had "tarnished the image of the church", Rwandan radio reported. The said priest had "ordered two bulldozer drivers to demolish a church in which 3,000 people had taken refuge", Bizimungu said. The Council of Bishops of Burundi boycotted a visit by Bizimungu to Burundi's second city of Gitega in protest at his pronouncements against Rwandan religious figures, RNA said.

BURUNDI: Rwanda, Burundi urge greater cooperation

Bizimungu and his Burundian counterpart Pierre Buyoya signed a joint communique at the end of the three-day visit on Saturday, Rwandan and Burundian media reports said. They called for greater cooperation and regular contacts between the two countries, in particular to address border problems. According to the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP), Bizimungu stressed that Burundi must be involved in peace efforts related to DRC. He noted that Burundian rebels were fighting in the Lubumbashi area of DRC, the agency added.

UGANDA: ADF rebels kill at least 20

At least 20 people were killed by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the western Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts on Thursday and Friday, the semi-official 'New Vision' daily reported on Saturday. Ten people were killed in a rebel attack on Nyakigumba trading centre on Thursday and another nine in Bubombi village in Bundibugyo district on Friday. The death toll rose further when the rebels slaughtered a group of herdsmen at Kabunomi village, the paper reported.

The state ministers for security, Muluri Mukasa, and for disaster and relief, Jane Francis Kuka, visited the scene of Friday's massacre as part of an ongoing mission to assess security in the districts of Kabarole and Bundibugyo.

WFP resumes food convoys under military escort

Meanwhile, WFP announced the resumption of relief food convoys to the region, where rebel attacks have forced thousands of people to flee their homes. In a news release, it said it began dispatching food to the area two weeks ago, but had to temporarily halt the operation due to attacks and ambushes on commercial transporters along the main Fort Portal-Bundibugyo road. A convoy of trucks carrying 70 mt of WFP food supplies did arrive safely in Bundibugyo town last week.

Aid agencies estimate that 50,000 to 70,000 Ugandans living in the western district of Bundibugyo have become displaced from their homes over the past four weeks. "It's becoming increasingly difficult to find transporters willing to risk their lives to carry relief supplies to this area", said Michael Jones, WFP's Deputy Country Director for Uganda. "We've been forced to arrange military escorts to accompany our food convoys to ensure that transporters can travel safely and the food reaches those who need it."

Nairobi, 19 April 1999, 15:30 gmt


Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 18:42:04 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 652 for 19 April [19990419]

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

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