IRIN Update 668 for 5/11/99

IRIN Update 668 for 5/11/99

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. 668 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 11 May 1999)

BURUNDI: "Serious issues" under discussion in Arusha

As another round of peace talks within the Arusha process began in the northern Tanzanian town on Tuesday, the facilitators stressed that "serious issues" would be debated. A spokesman for the Nyerere Foundation, Brigadier General Hashim Mbita, said it was hoped "big progress" would have been achieved by June, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. The next two weeks of talks are designed to prepare the ground for a peace agreement between Burundi's opposing sides, but the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group has warned that any accord signed by June would have no validity and would have been prepared in haste. Mbita told reporters this time round, the talks would "go into serious issues of negotiations, rather than pronouncing political statements and political thinkings".

The Burundi government strongly believes the rebel CNDD-FDD faction, which has not been invited to the talks, should be present. It holds rebels of the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) responsible for cross-border attacks from Tanzania and says there can be no solution unless they are included in discussions. According to a Burundi government statement, the facilitator, ex-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, told President Pierre Buyoya recently he was prepared to invite CNDD-FDD "but not under the banner of CNDD", which is represented by a faction led by Leonard Nyangoma.

CNDD-FDD ready to discuss "suspension of hostilities" if invited

CNDD-FDD spokesman Jerome Ndiho told IRIN on Tuesday his group had not received an official invitation to the talks, but said it was favourable to taking part if official confirmation came. There was no problem with the banner, he added, as "CNDD-FDD is not CNDD". "We are not opposed to negotiations," he said. "The armed struggle is intended to make the army accept negotiations." However, there was no question of a ceasefire, he stressed. "That is too ambitious, but we are ready to discuss a suspension of hostilities." Ndiho said it was "too late" to talk about a peaceful solution, but a "negotiated political solution" was possible. "The talks must be serious," he added. "We will not take part in a circus."

Army denies report of 72 deaths

Meanwhile, Burundi army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mamert Sinarinzi said reports that 72 civilians had been killed in renewed fighting near the Tanzanian border over the weekend were false. He told IRIN on Tuesday the number corresponded to the death toll - including rebels - since January and he noted that reports of the alleged fighting were vague. He also dismissed reports that 17,000 people had been displaced. Such allegations were intended to "derail the peace process" by trying to convince the international community that Burundi was not stable. He acknowledged there had been one incident on the night of 6-7 May, when rebels attacked a church in the Nyanza Lac area. Colonel Sinarinzi added that most of the attacks were perpetrated from Tanzanian territory and that attacks by DRC-based rebels had decreased.

RWANDA: Tanzania to extradite genocide suspect to Rwanda, not Belgium

Former Rwandan army officer Bernard Ntuyahaga will "in all probability" be handed over to Rwanda to face genocide charges after the Tanzanian authorities initiated extradition proceedings on Monday, Tanzanian radio reported. All that remained was confirmation of the decision by the chief justice, according to a statement by the director of public prosecutions, Jackson Mlei. He did not indicate when that might occur.

Ntuyahaga is also wanted by Belgium to face murder charges for allegedly ordering the shooting of 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers as they guarded then Rwandan prime minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, at the start of the 1994 genocide. She was also murdered. Justice officials in Dar es Salaam said on Monday that a Belgian extradition request was rejected because Tanzanian law did not provide for extradition to a country other than that in which the crimes were committed, Hirondelle news agency reported.

A Belgian justice ministry spokesman said his country regretted what he called a "political decision" which "should not be justified on weak legal grounds". Peter Gijsels told Hirondelle that genocide and crimes against humanity were considered to be "universal" and therefore "beyond the legal restrictions of territoriality", but said Belgium would cooperate with Rwanda if the extradition there proceeded.

The prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda dropped charges against Ntuyahaga in March with a view to having him handed over for trial in Belgium. He was rearrested by Tanzanian police shortly after his release.

Prominent Rwandan politician faces charges

The prosecution case against former chairman of the Mouvement Democratique Republicain (MDR), Bonaventure Ubalijoro, is almost complete and he will soon face embezzlement and subversion charges, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Sunday, quoting Kigali Prosecutor Emmanuel Rukangira.

The embezzlement charges relate to Ubalijoro's time as general manager of the country's biggest oil company, Petrorwanda, while the subversion charges allege that he heads an underground Hutu extremist organisation aimed at toppling the current government in Kigali, according to judicial sources cited by RNA.

Returnees continue to arrive from DRC

UNHCR has registered 4,750 Rwandan returnees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Gisenyi since 21 March 1999. The returnees were quoted as saying they were tired of living in hiding, that their relatives informed them the situation Rwanda was safe, and because there had been large sensitisation campaigns in Masisi and Rutshuru by authorities and clergy of the DRC and Rwanda. Local authorities are using the former vocational training centre in Gisenyi as a temporary transit centre, a UNHCR statement received by IRIN said. UNHCR has been requested to rehabilitate Nkamira transit facility which has larger capacity to accommodate returnees.

The NGO, Fondation Pinganayi Aide Humanitaire (FPAH), said that there are still a number of Rwandan refugees in the forests who are coming out "little by little. "FPAH believes they want to return home because they no longer receive any assistance," UNHCR said. FPAH added that the local population in eastern DRC is itself displaced and in no position to help.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Katana measles campaign reaches over 50,000 children

A measles vaccination campaign in the Katana area of South Kivu province between 26-29 April reached about 96 percent of the target population of 56,216 children, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) told IRIN. In a report, IRC said the campaign was conducted in collaboration with local health authorities, WHO, UNICEF, SCF-UK and MSF. Children also received polio vaccinations. The campaign was organised as a result of a survey carried out in February, which indicated that three percent of Katana's children under the age of two had died from measles during a recent outbreak. Another vaccination campaign will be conducted in the adjacent Kabare zone later in May, the report added.

Meanwhile, humanitarian sources told IRIN there were some 83 cases of suspected meningitis in Katana during the first three months of 1999, with 23 deaths recorded.

Decline in Kinshasa cholera cases

A cholera epidemic affecting Kinshasa since February has started to diminish, a recent report from the UN Disaster Management Team said. The report, received by IRIN, said that 17 cholera cases were registered in Kinshasa over the previous week, compared to 46 cases a week earlier. Meanwhile, the DRC government has appealed for water-treatment chemicals for the state-owned distribution company, Regideso, with a view to improving the epidemiological situation in the capital. The available stocks of chemicals will cover Regideso's needs up to mid-July, the report added.

UGANDA: Reward offered for information on bomb blasts

Ugandan police have offered a US $2,000 reward to anybody with information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of those responsible for a series of bomb attacks that have rocked Kampala recently. A Ugandan police source told IRIN the move was intended to speed up the arrest of the culprits. "Of course, even if it was one person killed, it would warrant the search," he said. "It is too much now, with 21 attacks." At least 13 people have been killed by bomb blasts since the beginning of the year.

Museveni views captured LRA weapons

President Yoweri Museveni, presently touring parts of northern Uganda, has expressed surprise over the type of weapons Sudan has given to the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a presidential press statement said. He was viewing a huge amount of weaponry captured in the last 16 months with the help of the local population, news organisations reported. Museveni hailed the armed forces "for having neutralised [LRA leader Joseph] Kony and his criminal activities," the release said.

Nairobi, 11 May 1999, 14:45 gmt


Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 17:59:50 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 668 for 11 May [19990511]

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

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