IRIN Update 673 for 18 May [19990518]

IRIN Update 673 for 18 May [19990518]

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. 673 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 18 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: "Forced parade" marks Kabila's second anniversary

President Laurent-Desire Kabila, marking two years in power, on Monday spoke of the need for democracy to end instability and war in the Great Lakes region. In a national address in Kinshasa broadcast by state television, he called for a "general crush the invaders" and prevent turning the country "into a nation of slaves". "Let our streams, rivers, mountains, which belong to us, become historic battlefields for the defence of the fatherland," he said.

News organisations described Monday's anniversary as "bitter", characterised by arrests and a "forced parade". The Associated Press said government troops arrested dozens of activists as soldiers, athletes, civil servants and state-corporation employees were "commanded, and some given money and clothing, to participate in the six-hour parade through the streets of Kinshasa".

ASADHO slams Kabila's human rights record

The main DRC human rights group, ASADHO, has characterised Kabila's rule as two years of "violence and disintegration". In a statement, received by IRIN on Tuesday, ASADHO warned of a "disaster in the making". "The tyrannical attitude and behaviour, the systematic sabotage of the democratisation process, the lack of transparency in decision-making, the worsening security situation - exacerbated by the new war - seriously compromise national unity," the statement said. Democracy and human rights, without which there could be no end to the DRC crisis, were under threat, it added. "The human rights situation in two years of the Kabila regime closely resembles that of 30 years of the Mobutu regime, only much more worrying and ominous".

Kabila's plan for DRC "stifled by aggression"

"Aggression by foreigners" against the DRC has "stifled the government's efforts to restructure the country since its rise to power", an official at the DRC embassy in Nairobi told IRIN on Tuesday. Deo Safari said Kabila's plan for reconstruction had been thwarted "because the aggressors moved in and are destroying our economy, killing our people and grabbing our gold, timber and other resources".

Ousted rebel leader speaks of "coup"

Ousted rebel leader, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, has said he is the victim of a coup within the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Radio France Internationale reported. According to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), a statement read by rebel spokesman Commander Sylvain Mbuki said a new leadership would be announced shortly and that until then, the RCD military leaders were in charge. Wamba told RNA the decision was taken unilaterally by his opponents within the RCD.

In an earlier interview with the Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily, Wamba had spoken of disagreements between the RCD's political and military wings. He said the military wanted a quick victory to get rid of Kabila as quickly as possible, whereas the political leaders were more interested in long-term changes for the country. "Our prime task is to educate the people so they can choose their own leader," he said. "If we fail, a new Mobutu or Kabila will just turn up." He warned that "arbitrary decision-making" within the RCD could simply lead to the emergence of another dictator.

Deo Safari, at the DRC embassy in Nairobi, hailed the reshuffle in the RCD leadership. He claimed it came about "because the majority [of RCD members] want to speak to the government".

BURUNDI: CNDD-FDD angry over Ndadaye sentences

The leader of the rebel CNDD-FDD faction, Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, has criticised the five death sentences handed down by the Supreme Court in the murder trial of ex-president Melchior Ndadaye, accusing the authorities of seeking to "eliminate five annoying witnesses" to the affair. In a press statement, received by IRIN, he claimed the sentences "only affect those who carried out the killing, while those who planned it...have not been troubled". He said the trial should have been conducted by an international tribunal.

Rebels reportedly threatening nickel prospecting

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) says Burundian rebels operating from Tanzania are trying to prevent an Austro-Canadian mining company from carrying out a feasibility study of nickel resources in the Musongati area of southern Burundi. The resources are believed to be the third largest in the world, according to JRS. It said the Apostolic Nuncio in Bujumbura had advised a Polish religious community based in Musongati to leave the mission due to insecurity in the area. UNHCR has denied mounting claims that armed rebels are hiding in the refugee camps of western Tanzania. A recent article in the Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily said police in the Kasulu district of Kigoma had impounded 55 firearms and 1,212 rounds of ammunition from refugees residing in the camps.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Call for more humanitarian assistance

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for ROC, Georg Charpentier, has warned that both the humanitarian community and the government do not have the means to ensure an improvement in the situation over the next three to six months. Addressing a news briefing in New York recently, he said he was launching a "short-term and focused" appeal to help with two main initiatives: the return and resettlement of displaced people and a programme to buy up arms from the militias. Charpentier noted that an alarming aspect of the ROC crisis had been the enrolment of about 15,000 youths into military action and a lack of funds to reintegrate them into civilian life. In addition, some 350,000 people were displaced mostly in southern parts of the country which were outside the reach of humanitarian agencies.

On the security situation, he acknowledged that the Angolan rebel group UNITA "wished to maintain a certain positioning" in southern parts of ROC. However there was no major evidence of UNITA's involvement in the conflict, although there had been references to training camps maintained by UNITA. He also noted a proliferation of militia groups who did not necessarily associate themselves with a particular opposition faction.


The UNOCHA Senior Humanitarian Adviser for the DRC, Charles Petrie and Paola Emerson, from the Office of the Regional Humanitarian Adviser will brief this week's meeting on their recent mission to Goma and Kinshasa. Please note that the meeting will take place between 10am and 11am on Wednesday, 19 May in the OCHA Conference room.

Nairobi, 18 May 1999, 15:00 gmt


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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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