IRIN Update 653 for 4/20/99

IRIN Update 653 for 4/20/99

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. 653 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 20 April 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila says Libya meeting "serious"

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has described weekend talks in Libya with his Ugandan rival President Yoweri Museveni as serious. Speaking over DRC state television on Monday night, he said details of the peace agreement signed by both presidents, along with their Chadian, Libyan and Eritrean counterparts, would soon be published. "Mr Museveni made us understand he was prepared to withdraw his troops," Kabila said. He added that Museveni had however expressed concern over Interahamwe militiamen "who are said to be in our country". Asked whether he thought Uganda would abide by the deal, he replied that "when one makes a pledge and signs an agreement of one's own free will, one is forced to honour one's words". According to Kabila, Libya and Eritrea had, moreover, agreed to send military observers to eastern DRC "in two weeks' time". A series of regional summits would be held in the next few days to discuss the DRC issue "so that we reach a definitive agreement with those who were absent from Sirte".

However, he cautioned that "we must prepare for war because the invaders will not leave until they are forced to quit". "We cannot claim to make peace when an entire half of the country is occupied by the invaders," he said. Referring to Rwanda, he noted that Museveni "said he could not commit the others during the talks". However, Museveni had reportedly consulted his allies.

War goes on, rebels say

A military official of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Commander Ilondo, told IRIN on Tuesday the movement was not interested in the peace deal because it was not a signatory. "The war will continue because Zimbabwean and Angolan troops are still fighting," he said. Speaking by satellite phone from eastern DRC, he added that the accord contained no guarantees for the rebel movement. Regarding proposed inter-Congolese talks under the auspices of the Catholic Sant'Egidio community in Rome, he said the RCD would consider attending, but "some changes" had to be made to the agenda first. "We have to be in agreement," he stressed.

Addressing journalists in Kinshasa on Sunday, DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi announced the Rome meeting would begin on 30 April and the deliberations would be concluded in Nairobi, Kenya, DRC television reported. He described the talks as "crucial for the destiny of our country".

News organisations quoted Rwanda's presidential spokesman Patrick Mazimhaka as saying there could be no agreement on ending the war without the participation of the rebels.

RWANDA: Ex-prefect pleads not guilty to genocide

The former prefect of Cyangugu prefecture, Emmanuel Bagambiki, has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania. According to an ICTR press release, he is alleged to have been responsible for killing and causing serious bodily harm to members of the Tutsi population in his prefecture in 1994 "with intent to destroy in whole or in part, an ethnic or racial group".

Foreign governments want to question genocide suspect

Meanwhile, the defence counsel for former Rwandan health minister Casimir Bizimungu on Monday asked the ICTR to review his client's prison conditions, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Lawyer Loomu Ojare claimed Bizimungu's fundamental rights were not being respected. He was held in solitary confinement, and prevented from mixing with other detainees or practising his religion, Ojare said.

The UK, Swedish and New Zealand governments have requested permission to interrogate Bizimungu in connection with the abduction of three tourists in eastern DRC last year. He is believed to be a leader of the extremist Rwandan Hutu group, PALIR, which has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

40 prosecutors sworn in

In Rwanda, 40 new prosecutors and magistrates have been sworn in who will work in military courts countrywide, Rwandan radio reported on Tuesday.

UGANDA: Bundibugyo attacked by rebels

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the western town of Bundibugyo on Monday night, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Tuesday. The attack was launched from many sides of the town after it was surrounded by the ADF. The target appeared to be a hotel where military and government officials as well as relief workers normally stay. Reports from the area indicate that the army has the situation under control. Aid agencies estimate between 50,000-70,000 people are displaced in Bundibugyo.

Monday's edition of the 'New Vision' daily quoted a senior military official as saying the army had launched a new surveillance network to wipe out the ADF rebels. The Second Division intelligence officer, Major Fred Mugisha, said the rebels were now operating in small groups of four to six men in the Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts.

Ugandan soldiers accused of "plundering" DRC

An article in the 'Sunday Vision' quoted the Goma-based pro-RCD monthly paper, 'Les Coulisses', which accused Uganda of "plundering" eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "The people who came as liberators are now massively looting and smuggling from Congo," 'Les Coulisses' said. The 'Sunday Vision' pointed out the accusations come at a time when the Uganda Revenue Authority and Civil Aviation Authority have complained to the Ugandan defence ministry over "dubious deals" between Ugandan army officers and their DRC civilian collaborators.

However, Ugandan officers quoted by the 'Sunday Vision' blamed Rwandan army elements for the "anti-Ugandan propaganda". "They are angry that Uganda has helped the genuine Congo rebel leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba and Wamba dia Wamba, who they thought were their creation, to unite," one officer said.

BURUNDI: UN presence upgraded

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday upgraded the Senegalese head of the UN office in Bujumbura, Sheikh Tidiane Sy, to be his special representative to Burundi. A letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council said the decision was taken "in light of the critical stage the peace process has reached, rendering it even more urgent that the United Nations office in Burundi should continue to follow closely the situation in the country at the political and security levels".


Please note that there will be no weekly information exchange meeting this week, on 21 April. There will however be one next week on 28 April, and you are welcome at 10:00 am at the OCHA conference room.

Nairobi, 20 April 1999, 14:10 gmt


Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 17:10:39 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 653 for 20 April [19990420]

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

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