IRIN Update 687 for 7 June [19990607]

IRIN Update 687 for 7 June [19990607]

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. 687 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 7 June 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rwanda-backed radio in Kisangani attacked

Forces supporting ousted rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba attacked a rival radio station in Kisangani last Thursday, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Monday. The station is controlled by the Rwandan-backed commander of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Jean-Pierre Ondekane. The commander, along with another top Rwanda-backed RCD official Bizima Karaha, is currently in Kisangani to negotiate with Ugandan troops who support Wamba's rival faction, the sources said. Kisangani is described as very tense, due to the presence of both factions and their respective Ugandan and Rwandan backers. Shooting between the two groups was reported out on the outskirts of the town on Friday.

Rival radio stations trade accusations

According to the semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' on Monday, Ondekane and Ugandan military commander in DRC, Brigadier James Kazini, traded accusations of "abusing" their respective radio stations for their own gains. In a letter to Ondekane, Kazini warned the rebel commander to "stop provoking" the Ugandans. 'New Vision' said the Radio Television Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) in Kisangani, now under Ondekane and Rwandan control, had accused the Ugandan army and Kazini of "smuggling, promoting ethnic hatred and splitting the RCD". Kazini told Ondekane if he persisted in his "provocations", he would "attack and arrest" him "any time". Ondekane, for his part, accused Kazini of using Radio Liberty based at the Ugandan army's headquarters in Kisangani, of "creating divisions among the people". Ondekane described Radio Liberty as a "system of aggression against the Congolese" and "machinery to promote Wamba dia Wamba".

Tanzania may mediate in rebel conflict

Meanwhile, sources told IRIN that Tanzania is set to mediate between Uganda, Rwanda and their respective rebel factions. The sides were due to meet in Uganda on Monday. News organisations said rebel leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) and Ernest Wamba dia Wamba would attend, along with representatives of the mainstream Goma-based RCD. The meeting is intended to bring the parties back to the cause of fighting the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, the sources said.

RCD denies Zambia raid

The RCD has strongly denied claims that its soldiers raided the northern Zambian district of Kaputa last week, rebel-held Radio Bukavu reported on Sunday. A UNHCR spokesman told IRIN the incident occurred at the border village of Lambwe Chomba last Tuesday, in which two civilians and a Zambian soldier were reportedly shot. The Zambian government is said to be investigating the alleged incident.

Families displaced in North Kivu

Many families have been displaced in North Kivu as a result of a military "mopping-up operation" along the DRC-Rwanda border over the past few weeks, humanitarian sources said. The families have lost their houses and belongings. Humanitarian agencies in the area are planning to assist the affected families and help them return to their home areas.

RWANDA: Genocide suspects freed in Kibungo

The authorities in Kibungo prefecture have freed 148 imprisoned genocide suspects who have no case files against them, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Friday. The prefect, Protais Rumanzi, said the releases - which included two women - were not "definitive". If there was proof of complicity in the 1994 genocide, the person would again be incarcerated.

New ICTR president

The UN has appointed South African judge Navanethem Pillay as president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for a period of two years, according to a press release from the Tribunal. She replaces outgoing president Judge Laity Kama of Senegal whose mandate has expired. Judge Pillay has been working at the Tribunal since May 1995.

ICTR signs memorandum of understanding with Rwanda

Meanwhile, the ICTR signed a memorandum of understanding with the Rwandan government setting out a "clear, legal basis" for UN activities in Rwanda, the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs Hans Correll said. The Hirondelle news agency quoted him as saying this included the protection of visiting judges and prosecutors, functional and diplomatic immunity and protection of UN premises. He described the move as a "positive development" in relations with Kigali. Hirondelle recalled that ICTR prosecutors have been based in Kigali since 1995 and the UN has been negotiating the memorandum since then. Correll said the signing of the memorandum represented a "change of attitude" on the part of the Rwandan government.

The ICTR chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, said the tribunal should be more visible in Rwanda and where possible, proceedings should take place in that country. "Now is the time to start looking towards the future," she told reporters at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

BURUNDI: Buyoya visits Libya

President Pierre Buyoya, who arrived in Libya at the weekend, held talks with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on the Great Lakes crisis, Libyan radio reported. According to the radio, he hailed the Sirte accord aimed at bringing peace to the DRC. "Very important, positive developments" had taken place since the accord was signed in April, Buyoya was quoted as saying.

New penal code adopted

Parliament has approved a new penal code for Burundi, described by Justice Minister Terence Sinunguruza as "revolutionary", the Agence burundaise de presse reported. It said the new law was adopted last Thursday after a heated debate which lasted the entire day. The law is based on "compromise between the fair hearing of cases and the urgent need to protect people's rights and liberties", ABP said.

New governor for Bujumbura Rural

President Buyoya has appointed a new governor for the troubled Bujumbura Rural province, ABP reported. Major Balthazar Ntamahungiro, formerly the Karusi district commander in central Burundi, replaces Dr Stanislas Ntahobari who has held the post since 1994.

UGANDA: 30 refugees reportedly abducted by LRA rebels

Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army have abducted over 30 refugees from Mahazi camp in the northern Adjumani district, the 'New Vision' said. The abductions were confirmed by the army's Fourth Division Commander in Gulu, Brigadier Edward Katumba Wamala. He said the assailants were "remnants" of the LRA who had been hiding out in Nwoya county.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Jailbreak by European mercenaries

Three Europeans accused of plotting to kill President Denis Sassou Nguesso have escaped from jail, AFP reported on Sunday, quoting Radio Liberte in Brazzaville. It said the three - a Frenchman, a Croatian and an Italian - may have sought refuge at the French embassy. On Friday, the three had appeared in court in Brazzaville.

60 reported killed by Ninja militiamen

Meanwhile, Radio France Internationale on Sunday reported a massacre in the Pool region, west of Brazzaville. In an interview with RFI, Communication Minister Francois Ibovi claimed Ninja militiamen, loyal to ousted premier Bernard Kolelas, had killed 60 people travelling in a truck who were heading for their homes in Brazzaville. The vehicle was reportedly doused with petrol and set alight, after being ambushed by the militiamen.

NOTE: OCHA meeting

There will be a meeting this Wednesday, 9 June, at 10:00 at the OCHA conference room where UN staff who travelled to Zambia last week will talk about the situation of the Congolese refugees.

Nairobi, 7 June 1999 14:25 gmt


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Item: irin-english-971

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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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