CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 671 for 14 May [19990514]

CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 671 for 14 May [19990514]

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. 671 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 14 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: ICRC steps in to assist victims of bombing

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday began work to assist victims of Tuesday's bombings in the rebel-held towns of Goma and Uvira. "ICRC found around 500 persons who had been affected by the bombing, most of whose belongings had been destroyed and who no longer had a roof of their own above their head," an ICRC press release said. The agency distributed blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets and jerry cans to those whose houses had been destroyed. It provided food rations including maize, beans and vegetable oil as well as medicines to hospitals in Goma and Uvira. Congolese Red Cross first aid volunteers recovered and buried more than 20 bodies and took the wounded to hospital.

Activities in Uvira "paralysed"

Day-to-day activities in Uvira were paralysed after the bombing on Tuesday, rebel-controlled Uvira radio reported. It said administrative offices and schools remained closed. The radio said the allied forces dropped a total of six bombs on four districts of Uvira, killing 20 people and wounding two. Six houses were also destroyed.

43 victims buried in Goma

In Goma, 43 victims of the bombing were buried on Wednesday, Rwandan radio reported. It said a further 49 people were in hospital undergoing treatment as a result of the attack. The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) warned it would shoot down any plane trying to land without authorisation.

DRC players arrive in Libya

Meanwhile Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, President Laurent-Desire Kabila of the DRC and UN special envoy Moustapha Niasse are all reported to have arrived in Libya, according to Libyan media reports. It said they were due to meet Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

RWANDA: Finance minister welcomes Japanese debt rescheduling

Rwandan Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka has hailed the rescheduling by Japan on Thursday of over US $8.25 million of Rwanda's debt. Japan's ambassador to Rwanda, Morisha Aoki, said in a statement that the rescheduling would help alleviate Rwanda's financial and economic imbalance, and prop up its enhanced adjustment facilities signed with the IMF last year. Kaberuka welcomed Japan's assistance, but renewed calls for increased donor assistance, saying Rwanda's recovery is still crippled by its foreign debt, amounting to $1.2 billion.

BURUNDI: Opposing factions urged to minimise differences

The spokesman for the Nyerere Foundation which is mediating the Burundi peace process has called on opposing factions to minimise their differences, Tanzanian radio reported. It quoted Hashim Mbita as saying this would enhance the chances of reaching an early agreement to end the conflict. Mbita added that a recent meeting of Hutu-dominated parties in Moshi, Tanzania, was "useful" in minimising differences among the parties.

UGANDA: Amnesty the best option for northerners

An offer of amnesty by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's amnesty to rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is an "answered prayer" for many in the north. Media sources in the area confirmed to IRIN that opinion polls have proved that northerners are "very happy" with the offer and say the president "has seen the light". To them, the gesture will end the 13-year-old problem.

Analysts in Kampala said Museveni had "often shoved (rejected) this option and advocated for war instead". "When he [Museveni] saw the kind of weapons the rebels are using during his current tour and the extent of loss and depopulation, he opted for dialogue," one analyst told IRIN on Friday.

"I was angry with Kony as he killed many people, but now I have been persuaded and I have agreed to give him and his fighters amnesty," the semi-official daily 'New Vision' quoted Museveni as saying. According to the senior presidential adviser for media and public relations, John Nagenda, an open amnesty had been granted to the rebels a few years back. "The only new thing with this is that the names of Kony and two of his top lieutenants were named," he told IRIN.

"If Kony fails to respond, then the government has no option than to tackle him on the battlefield," Nagenda said. "The atrocities he has committed against his own people may weigh him down with guilt and make him either surrender or not."

Nairobi, 14 May 1999, 15:30 gmt


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Item: irin-english-824

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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