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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. 689 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 9 June 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels meet to "harmonise views"
Rival rebel groups in the DRC and their backers are continuing their reconciliation meeting in the southwestern Ugandan town of Kabale. A leading official of the Goma-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Bizima Karaha, told IRIN on Wednesday consultations were underway between the different groups on "harmonising their positions" ahead of wider negotiations for a peaceful settlement to the DRC crisis.
"The process of bringing peace is long," said Karaha, who heads the RCD's intelligence and security department. "The warring parties [rebels and government forces] have to agree on a unilateral or bilateral ceasefire, then cease hostilities. They have to negotiate peace between the military and political entities, and negotiate on the political course. They have to identify a neutral country to mediate, negotiate on security matters, then the opponents can talk of peace having come." Karaha maintained that without systematically addressing these issues, the quest for peace may be in vain. "This meeting is for us to discuss and harmonise certain issues, all within the framework of the Lusaka peace process," he added. He would not be drawn on whether there had been any progress, but said the meeting was continuing.
The RCD faction based in Kisangani is represented in Kabale by its leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba whereas the third rebel group, Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), is represented by its head Jean-Pierre Bemba. The rebels' backers Uganda and Rwanda are also represented, while Tanzania is attending as a neutral party.
Khartoum denies Bumba, Businga bombings
Sudanese army spokesman, General Mohamed Osman Yassin, has denied Congolese rebel claims that Sudanese planes bombed two towns in the north of the DRC, and insisted that Khartoum did not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Jean-Pierre Bemba, who heads the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), said on Tuesday that two Russian-built Antonov planes of the Sudanese air force had bombed Bumba and Businga towns on Monday, killing one civilian and wounding 20.
BURUNDI: Buyoya again stresses neutrality in DRC war
President Pierre Buyoya, recently returned from visits to Libya, Chad and Gabon, has reiterated Burundi's non-involvement in the DRC war. Speaking to reporters in Bujumbura on Tuesday, he said there was sometimes "confusion" about Burundi's role. "We reaffirmed our position of neutrality in that conflict", he stressed, in comments broadcast by Burundi radio. However, Burundi remained concerned about the effect of the war on its security. Regional analysts told IRIN that Burundian troops sometimes clash with rebels of the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) on DRC territory, but are unlikely to be involved in the war itself.
Opposition reacts to government's transition plan
Opposition groups have been reacting to the government's proposed "period of stabilisation", which envisages a 10-year transition. Exiled FRODEBU president Jean Minani told the BBC Kirundi service that the issues would have to be debated by the 18 sides represented at the Arusha talks. "The views supported by Burundians will have to come from Arusha," he said. However analysts told IRIN that an issue as serious as the future of the country and its transition would also have to be discussed within Burundi, as part of the internal peace process. A spokesman for the rebel CNDD faction of Leonard Nyangoma, meanwhile, said the war would continue until the army was reformed. "People should have an army made up of all ethnic groups," he said. "This is our position."
Cholera in Rumonge kills four
WHO says four people have died from an outbreak of cholera in the southern Rumonge area, with a total of 73 cases reported. Sixty-five percent of the cases were concentrated in Rumonge town's Swahili district. In a report sent to IRIN on Wednesday, WHO pointed out there were no cases among the 760 DRC refugees in Rumonge. The disease, which broke out on 24 May, is caused by people drinking water from nearby Lake Tanganyika.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: French embassy asked to hand over "mercenaries"
Authorities in the Republic of Congo have called on the French embassy in Brazzaville to hand over three European "mercenaries" who took refuge there, Radio France Internationale reported on Tuesday. It said the police were still cordoning off the streets leading to the French embassy and that about 300 people demonstrated near the embassy on Tuesday. The demonstrators, mainly young people, set ablaze the French flag and demanded that the three be handed over. The three - a Frenchman, an Italian and a Croatian - are accused of plotting to kill President Denis Sassou Nguesso. They escaped from jail and sought sanctuary at the embassy.
UGANDA: IMF recommends release of funds
An IMF mission to Uganda has recommended the release of the second tranche of a US $20 million loan in August, news organisations said. IMF's Resident Representative Zia Ebrahim Zadeh told a press conference the mission's findings were very positive. "We are optimistic that the end of June benchmarks will be met and will go to IMF board and ask for approval for disbursement for Uganda," the independent 'Monitor' newspaper quoted him as saying. "Mid-August will be the earliest that figures are available. We may need another mission to come back and look at the figures." Some of the benchmarks include the speedy privatisation of Uganda Airlines, Uganda Telecom and an improvement in net domestic assets.
GREAT LAKES: UNHCR chief to visit
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is due to embark on a visit to the Great Lakes region next week, according to a UNHCR spokesman. She is due to visit DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
Nairobi, 9 June 1999, 14:50 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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