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IRIN Update No. 681 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 28 May 1999)
UGANDA: Officials locked in meeting over Libya's "surprise" arrival
Ugandan defence ministry officials and representatives of 42 Libyan soldiers who arrived unexpectedly in Kampala this week are locked in a meeting to try and sort out the issue, Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Friday. Libyan radio described the surprise arrival as a "prelude" to the arrival of an African peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However Kivengere said it was "not exactly the right time" for the Libyans to have come, adding there was probably a "misunderstanding" by Libya over the interpretation of the Sirte agreement signed last month between Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Laurent-Desire Kabila.
There were many parties to the DRC conflict who should be involved in modalities for the deployment of a peacekeeping force, she said. "How can an army of about 42 people keep away thousands who are at each other's neck?", she asked. "Anyway, let us wait and see what comes out of the meeting."
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chad begins withdrawal of troops
Chadian troops that were backing the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila against rebels in DRC began withdrawing on Wednesday, following the Sirte peace agreement. Some 2,000 Chadian soldiers pulled out, crossing from Zongo to Bangui in the Central African Republic, from where the UN mission (MINURCA) ensured their safe passage to the Chadian border, media sources reported on Thursday. The Chadian troops had been deployed mostly in the northern Gbadolite region of DRC.
Wamba loyalist claims "coup plotters" oppose a united front
Mbusa Nyamwisi, chairman of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) assembly loyal to ousted leader, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, said on Thursday in Kampala that the "coup plotters" in the RCD were opposed to a united front against Kabila. They are "opposed to the bringing together of all armed and non-armed groups in [the Democratic Republic of] Congo," he said, according to the semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision'.
Nyamwisi and other Wamba loyalists who arrived in Kampala on Wednesday after fleeing Goma planned to make their way to Kisangani via Entebbe after Nyamwisi met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday.
Uvira town calm, Mayi-Mayi threatening mountain villages
Humanitarian sources who have just arrived from Uvira told IRIN on Friday the situation in the town is calm at the moment, but Mayi-Mayi fighters are still threatening to attack villages in the surrounding mountains. The sources pointed out a Mayi-Mayi strategy is to hide and conduct ambushes, without "open confrontation". Meanwhile, according to the sources, civilians in Goma and Kisangani are "confused" by recent splits within the RCD. "No one is sure of the real and genuine saviour", they said.
Government again invites rebels to national debate
The DRC government on Thursday said preparations for the Congolese national debate were continuing and again invited the rebel movement, including both incumbent and ousted RCD leaders, Emile Ilunga and Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, to participate, Reuters news agency reported. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi told a news conference the debate could not include power sharing, but would deal with the legitimisation of power, the draft constitution and the liberalisation of political activities.
Yerodia added that the chosen mediators of the national debate - the Italian Catholic San't Egidio order, the Francophonie group and the OAU - had been delayed but would soon arrive in Kinshasa "to make contact with the organising committee of the national debate so that we can reach an agreement on the modalities they have envisaged".
Zaire currency to cease as legal tender
The zaire and new zaire currency still in circulation will cease to be legal tender and will not be accepted for any transactions from 30 June, according to a Central Bank announcement reported by DRC television. The bank notes will continue to be convertible into Congolese francs at Central Bank branches in Kinshasa and in the provinces until 31 December, after which the currency will be useless, the announcement stated.
BURUNDI: 11 killed in Bujumbura-Rural
Eleven people were reported killed this week in an attack on Ruziba zone in Bujumbura-Rural. According to the Netpress news agency, the attackers struck on Wednesday night using machetes, firearms and knives. Three people were badly injured. Provincial governor Stanislas Ntahobari blamed Hutu rebels for the attack, and expressed regret that a number of local people were "collaborating with the criminals". However, survivors and relatives of the dead said the attack was carried out by soldiers, instigated by local officials, notably the chief of zone. The charge was rejected by Ntahobari who remarked that the population had been "manipulated" and was "reacting emotionally".
Army investigating killings
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mamert Sinarinzi, interviewed by the BBC Kirundi service, said investigations were underway. "People have been accusing each other," he stated. He added that if the investigations showed soldiers were responsible, those found guilty would be severely punished.
Minister acknowledges insecurity in certain provinces
Meanwhile Defence Minister Colonel Alfred Nkurunziza addressed security issues at a news conference in Bujumbura on Thursday. Netpress said he noted that although the security situation was generally satisfactory, provinces such as Bujumbura-Rural, Makamba and Rutana were still insecure. He blamed rebels infiltrating from Tanzania, and described a "new phenomenon" in that "local populations were being forced to Tanzania to become refugees". Rebel infiltrations from the DRC side were now less of a problem, the minister noted, and Burundian vessels were able to travel to Mpulungu in Zambia and Kigoma in Tanzania without too much trouble.
RWANDA: British peer emphasises need to tackle corruption
Lynda Chalker, formerly British minister for overseas development and now a member of the House of Lords, has emphasised in talks with President Pasteur Bizimungu the need to tackle corruption, privatise industry, and modernise government and industry in order to boost Rwanda's economy. Radio Rwanda reported Chalker as saying she could use her links with international donors and industry to drum up economic support, but a prerequisite was that "the vice of corruption must be totally eradicated". Chalker, who is in the country at the invitation of Vice-President Paul Kagame, on Thursday held a meeting with representatives of Rwanda's industrial and commercial sectors.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army probes role in rebel attack
The army on Thursday launched an investigation into the possibility of collusion between army units and Ninja rebels in a series of attacks between 9 and 12 May on Bolobo military training camp, 15 miles north of Brazzaville, in which 130 people - including some 100 children - were reportedly killed. Military spokesman Colonel Jean Robert Obargui told AP news agency that rebels had killed at least seven people in three subsequent attacks on rural villages since last week.
Nairobi, 28 May 1999, 13:50 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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