IRIN Update 683 for 1 June [19990601]

IRIN Update 683 for 1 June [19990601]

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. 683 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 1 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels shoot down Zimbabwean MiGs

DRC rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) and their Rwandan allies have shot down two Zimbabwean MiG fighters, Rwanda announced on Monday. The fighter-jets were downed during two separate attacks by government troops and their Zimbabwean backers in the first reported fighting since Rwanda, which has spearheaded the rebellion against President Laurent-Desire Kabila, declared a unilateral ceasefire last Friday. The planes were shot down near the southern Congolese towns of Shaba and Mann, news agencies reported Rwandan government spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson Reassure as saying. The two pilots were killed.

Karate urges Congo to open talks, Zimbabwe reacts cautiously

Zimbabwe, which has sent both troops and planes into the mineral-rich southern Congo, previously reacted cautiously to the Rwandan ceasefire declaration. The Zimbabwean press quoted President Robert Mugabe as saying Rwanda and its allies had in the past failed to honor their promises and that it was not easy to trust such statements unless they were accompanied by practical signs of cessation of hostilities. "That's what they have said, but is it what they are going to do?" Mugabe was quoted as telling journalists in the Nigerian capital Abuja where he was attending the inauguration ceremony of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) news agency quoted Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame on Monday as urging DRC to accept the ceasefire offer and start talking directly to the rebels. "It's a test. It's what we can offer. It's on the table: take it or leave it," Kagame was quoted as telling reporters. He said there was no timetable to take up the offer.

The RCD rebels have already vowed to continue fighting despite the unilateral ceasefire offer from their main allies. "We respect Rwanda's decision, but as far as we are concerned, the war will continue and our troops will keep fighting," said senior RCD official Alexis Tambwe.

Chadian troops return home

Most of the troops Chad sent last year to DRC to back the Kabila government have returned home after transiting Central African Republic, Communication Minister Moussa Dago told IRIN on Monday. "The bulk of the contingent arrived in Sahr (south-western Chad) since yesterday," Dago said, adding that the rest had left the CAR capital Bangui on Sunday night and were expected to arrive in Chad between Monday night and Tuesday. Dago said the number of troops was about 2,000.

The withdrawal, which began on 26 May, followed the April peace accord in Sirte, Libya, between Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that provided for the replacing of troops from nations involved in the conflict with a neutral peacekeeping force.

UGANDA-DRC: Former Mobutu allies gather in Kampala

More than 30 former army generals, colonels and other more junior officers, all of whom served in the army of former Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese-Seko, are in Kampala ready to join the Ernest Wamba dia Wamba faction of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie ( RCD). The team, led by Philemon Barimuto, is scheduled to meet President Yoweri Museveni before travelling to Kisangani where they will constitute the RCD high command, the semi- official 'Sunday Vision' said. Analysts say Uganda has also been working very hard to unify RCD under Wamba's leadership and that of the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) led by Jean-Pierre Bemba. The generals are said to be mobilising hundreds of exiled Mobutu soldiers for the war effort.

Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN the numerous meetings particularly on the DRC crisis which have been going on in Kampala are a result of several months of discussions with parties involved. "It is the fruit of months of quiet discussions and talks back and forth. When looking for peace it is hard work and all possible contacts must be used. This is why (Libyan leader Muammar) Gadaffi's role is very important, he has the contacts," she said.

Uganda retreats to pacify Rwanda

The Ugandan army has withdrawn its troops and military hardware from rebel-controlled areas in eastern Congo in an effort to ease tensions with Rwanda, the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper has reported. The paper quoted a top military source as saying the Ugandan army had withdrawn from the eastern Congo towns of Bukavu, Goma and Uvira. Several anti-aircraft batteries were airlifted from Goma to the Uganda army bases in Kisangani. Sources at the Uganda-Congo border said a long convoy of fighters loyal to dia Wamba and Ugandan troops entered the south-western district of Kisoro from Goma last Friday.

UGANDA: Death toll rises to two from bomb blast

The death toll from a bomb which exploded in a crowd of revellers in a suburb of Kampala on Sunday has risen to two, police said. It was the seventh suspected terrorist attack in the country since the beginning of the year and takes to 49 the total number of people who have now died. In last Sunday's blast one woman was killed instantly. Another person died later of injuries.

Nairobi, 1 June 1999 12:00 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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