IRIN Update 684 for 2 June [19990602]

IRIN Update 684 for 2 June [19990602]

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. 684 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 2 June 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Support for Sirte accord reaffirmed

Uganda and the DRC have reaffirmed their commitment to the Sirte accord, signed by their two leaders in Libya in April. A joint statement, issued in Kampala at the end of talks between Ugandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi and DRC Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo, also stressed their commitment to the ongoing Lusaka peace process, Ugandan radio reported. They agreed to set up a committee of experts to work out the practical implementation of the accord, with Uganda taking on the role of encouraging both the armed and unarmed opposition in DRC to take part in DRC government initiatives aimed at democratisation.

"Progress" at Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania talks

The leaders of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania met in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday to discuss the DRC conflict. Rwandan radio described the mini-summit as a follow-up to a recent meeting between the three countries in Dodoma, Tanzania. Rwandan Minister in the President's Office Patrick Mazimhaka said they discussed the crisis within the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), but stressed the leaders felt progress had been made to try and resolve the DRC conflict. Sources close to the talks suggested to IRIN on Wednesday that Tanzania - which favoured neutrality in the DRC issue - has come out in support of ousted RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, a close colleague of ex-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere.

SADC to hold DRC ceasefire talks

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is to meet in Lusaka on 26 June to try and secure a multilateral ceasefire in the DRC conflict, the South African news agency SAPA reported. The announcement was made by outgoing South African President Nelson Mandela and Namibian leader Sam Nujoma following talks. Both leaders said they were confident that peace efforts were starting to "bear fruit".

Minister denies MIG fighters downed

DRC Deputy Defence Minister Major Dieudonne Kayembe Bandankulu has denied Rwandan reports that two Zimbabwean MIG fighters were downed during recent fighting at Eshimba and Manono in Katanga province. DRC state television said he told a news conference on Tuesday that a reconnaissance aircraft was lost on 23 May. He also accused Rwanda of "playing for time" by announcing a unilateral ceasefire.

"Dramatic" increase in DRC refugees

The reported surge in fighting between Mayi-Mayi warriors and the RCD in eastern DRC has caused a dramatic increase in the number of Congolese fleeing across Lake Tanganyika to Tanzania, UNHCR says. Over 4,800 new arrivals have been registered in Kigoma since 25 May. Refugees told UNHCR officials the Mayi-Mayi had stepped up attacks on villages in South Kivu and were warning residents to leave the area. Battles for the town of Baraka in particular were "ruthless and destructive", the refugees added.

RWANDA: New judges sworn in

Three new judges appointed to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) were sworn in on Monday by UN Under-Secretary-General and Legal Counsel Hans Corell, the tribunal said in a statement. The latest appointments take to nine the total number of judges of the three trial chambers of the ICTR. The three judges are Mehmet Guney from Turkey, Erik Mose from Norway and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardna of Sri Lanka.

Five trials have now been completed by the tribunal. They constitute the first judgements by any international court in the world for genocide. The new judges will form a third chamber which is expected to speed up the trials of nearly 50 suspects currently being held in custody.

Dr Agwu Ukiwe Okali, the ICTR's Registrar, said in an interview with the 'EastAfrican' this week that the tribunal had already made its mark, despite accusations that it had moved too slowly. "We have been able to bring to justice some of the most senior people, like former prime minister Jean Kambanda ... In Africa, it is almost unheard of for someone like a prime minister to be punished," he said, adding: "Now we have shown that they will be punished, it is beginning to sink in."

Shell takes over state oil company

The Shell Oil Company has taken over the state-owned oil establishment, Petro-Rwanda, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Tuesday. It cited the head of the National Privatisation Secretariat, Vianney Shumbusho, as saying Petro-Rwanda had more liabilities than assets, hence the sale to Shell for US $2.1 million.

UGANDA: 30 arrested in connection with bomb blasts

Thirty people have been arrested in connection with a series of bomb blasts which have rocked Kampala and other parts of the country, press reports said on Wednesday. The semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper quoted security officials as saying those arrested over the last month are suspected of having been trained to make bombs using local materials. The suspects are being held in "safe houses" in various parts of the city. Among those arrested are a Sudanese national and director of an international NGO, Ahmadiya Muslim Mission, the newspaper said. The suspects will be charged in court "soon".

Museveni blames security "laxes"

President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday blamed the series of bomb attacks partly on the "laxity" of the intelligence system. Quoted by the 'New Vision', he termed the attacks as "urban banditry", as opposed to "rural banditry" which the government was defeating in northern and western parts of the country. "There has been a lot of laxity in the intelligence system but I have pushed them and they are waking up," he said. He noted that dealing with urban banditry should not cause panic, nor the mounting of roadblocks and the indiscriminate searching of people. The situation could be contained using "appropriate" methods which did not interfere with the flow of services.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Annan urges preparations for polls

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday urged the CAR government to expedite its preparations for the presidential election scheduled for later this year. In a report to the Security Council, he said further delays or a reduction in electoral support for CAR may jeopardise the entire purpose of the UN mission, MINURCA. He urged the Council to support the plan submitted by the mission to "ensure an acceptable level of observation of the freedom and fairness" of the election process. "The deployment plans are essential to make the election credible," he said.

Annan said the delays experienced so far had "seriously impaired" the degree to which MINURCA could assist the process. He also appealed for financial assistance to restructure the armed forces, police and gendarmerie. "Further progress in the establishment of a well-trained and adequately-equipped security force is essential in view of the volatility of the situation within and around the Central African Republic," he said.

Libyan foreign minister holds talks with officials

Libyan Foreign Minister Umar Mustafa al-Muntasir on Monday held talks with CAR government officials in Sirte, Libya. The talks dealt with bilateral relations and ways of strengthening and consolidating cooperation in "various spheres" between the two countries, Libyan television reported.

Nairobi, 2 June 1999, 14:25 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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