IRIN Update 661 for 5/1/99

IRIN Update 661 for 5/1/99

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. 661 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 30 April 1999)


The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has expressed grave misgivings about the DRC government's proposal to hold a national debate scheduled for 8-15 May in Nairobi. In a press statement, received by IRIN on Friday, it blamed President Laurent-Desire Kabila for "steam rolling" the initiative with no consultations about the agenda, list of participants and the approach to securing peace.

"The agenda has been set as usual by Kabila to suit Kabila," said Thomas Nziratimana, the RCD's representative in South Africa. "There was no consultation and the invitation list will undoubtedly exclude vital leaders without whose support any such initiative is doomed." He said a ceasefire agreement was vital, after which an agenda could be drawn up for a national debate involving all the stakeholders. "We want to see this war ended as quickly as possible. Kabila has it in his power to do so. All it requires from him is an acceptance that Congo is not his personal chiefdom, and to genuinely embrace the idea of an inclusive process involving all of our people," Nziratimana said.

Agenda must include nationality issue, Banyamulenge group says

The Banyamulenge NGO, Groupe Milima, said it had not been invited to the Nairobi conference which it classed as a "waste of time". The NGO told IRIN on Friday the national debate "was making the same mistakes" as the national sovereign conference of 1992 which denied Zairean nationality to the Banyamulenge. It said the issue of nationality of Congolese Tutsis had to be addressed, and this was not on the agenda of the debate.

Rebels claim capture of two towns

Forces of the rebel faction led by Jean-Pierre Bemba on Thursday claimed they had captured two towns in northeast DRC. Press reports quoted Bemba, leader of the Mouvement de Liberation congolais (MLC), as saying the small town of Kateke some 120 km from Gbadolite, a base for Kabila loyalists, fell on Tuesday. The second town, Bondo, was captured on Wednesday after government troops took off after little resistance, he said.

Chad to withdraw troops

Chad meanwhile announced it was withdrawing its troops from DRC "in compliance with the Sirte [Libya] accord", Gabonese 'Africa No.1' radio reported on Friday. Communications Minister Moussa Dago said the Chadian intervention, on Kabila's side, had helped "stabilise the military situation" in areas controlled by Chadian forces. He added that Chad would be prepared to contribute to an international intervention force in DRC.

UGANDA: Government carries out execution of 28 prisoners

Prison authorities in Uganda executed 28 men on Thursday night in defiance of pleas for clemency from human rights groups and members of the diplomatic community. A short statement from Uganda's deputy commissioner for prisons W.J Kururagyire confirmed the incident. "The office of the commissioner of prisons wish to confirm that the punishment was carried out on Thursday night," the statement read. Earlier on Friday, human rights groups told IRIN the government had imposed a news blackout on the event.

RWANDA: Extradition of genocide suspect sought from Britain

An army commander accused of ordering the massacre of 25 Tutsi children who had sought sanctuary at Benebikira convent in Butare in April 1994 has been given temporary asylum in Britain and is living with his family in south London, the BBC reported on Friday. The Rwandan government has said that a request is being prepared for the extradition of Lt-Col Tharcisse Muvunyi, so that he can be brought to trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Britain has no extradition treaty with Rwanda, however.

AFP quoted a British Home Office spokesman as saying: "We do support the tribunal that is looking into war crimes and if the tribunal was to send out an indictment for anyone living here, it would be considered."

Genocide suspect rearrested after demonstrations

Ignace Banyaga, a former deputy prefect in Kibuyu Prefecture who was set free after being found innocent of genocide charges on Monday, has been rearrested in connection with the trial of some other genocide suspects who claim he was their ringleader, Radio Rwanda reported on Thursday. Banyaga, whose rearrest followed a peaceful demonstration against his acquittal, served as the personal secretary of the former prefect of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, who is being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha.

Claims of genocide levelled against second bishop

Rwandan judicial sources in Kigali said witnesses are being questioned over allegations that a second Catholic prelate, the Catholic Archbishop of Kigali, Thaddee Ntihinyurwa, was involved in the 1994 genocide, DPA news agency reported on Friday. A prosecution file has been opened on the case against the archbishop, which said the claims were levelled at Nyamasheke parish in Cyangugu prefecture during the recent reburial of more than 45,000 Tutsis. Two weeks ago the bishop of southwestern Gikongoro prefecture, Augustin Misago, was arrested for alleged involvement in genocide, bringing protests from the Vatican. Misago is awaiting trial at Kigali Central Prison.

BURUNDI: Ganwa royal class seeks recognition as ethnic group

Burundi's royal class, the Ganwa, have called on the authorities to recognise them as the country's fourth ethnic group, the BBC Kirundi service reported on Thursday. Candide Mpozagara, a member of the "Great Lakes Ganwa organisation", told the radio that historically the Ganwa are neither Hutu, Tutsi nor Twa and therefore constitute a separate ethnic group. "We would like to be recognised as the Ganwa ethnic group," she said. She stressed that they did not want to restore the kingdom. "We are only fighting for our identity. We don't want to get involved in politics," she said. The Ganwa have called on the Burundian authorities to allow a proper burial for the country's last two kings, Ntare V who was assassinated, and his father, Mwambutsa who died in Switzerland.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Limited return of displaced people within Brazzaville

A "street-by-street" return of displaced people within Brazzaville is to begin on Saturday, a UN official told IRIN. A package of food and non-food items for returnees is to be provided by humanitarian agencies including ICRC, the International Federation of the Red Cross, Caritas, UNICEF and WFP. The displaced people are returning to the southern Brazzaville suburbs of Bacongo and Makelekele from camps mainly in the city's northern outskirts. Residents from some southernmost areas are not yet allowed to go home, a government spokesman told state radio. The operation will start 1 May.

Meanwhile, government forces have acknowledged the use of a helicopter gunship against Ninja rebels to the southwest of the capital last weekend. In the western part of the country, where government troops have been skirmishing with Cocoyes militia, Reuters reports that the port city of Pointe Noire had been without electricity for four days, as there had been a break in the power line between the Moukoukoulou hydroelectric plant and the port.

Nairobi, 30 April 1999, 14:30 gmt


Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 17:38:51 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 661 for 30 April [19990501]

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

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