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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. 691 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 11 June 1999)
BURUNDI: Buyoya outlines new security institutions
President Pierre Buyoya has given details of new regulations governing the country's security institutions. Burundi radio said he told reporters on Thursday that a "communal" police force would be set up. A single new body would be created to protect the security "of all ethnic groups", and would oversee the gendarmerie department charged with upholding public order as well as the army department dealing with border security, the radio reported. Buyoya also rejected the idea that the government's political transition proposals would raise objections at the Arusha talks. He said the diaspora "had to understand the initiatives of their brothers residing in the country".
PALIPEHUTU "poised to invade Bujumbura"
The rebel group, PALIPEHUTU, has warned foreigners to leave Burundi "as soon as possible" as its armed wing, the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), was "approaching the capital, Bujumbura". In a press release signed by its leader Cossan Kabura, PALIPEHUTU claimed its forces "are now well-prepared to finalise the task of restoring peace in Burundi by invading Bujumbura". It also claimed "Uganda, Rwanda and Somalia" had sent troops to Burundi and "they must quit immediately".
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Zimbabwean policy analysed
A Zimbabwe defence spokesman has said reports of 500 Zimbabwean soldiers fleeing the town of Manono in Katanga province, when it was captured by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) recently, are untrue. He claimed only 94 Zimbabweans were present at Manono, the home town of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, and they were evacuated by air after some 3,000 rebels took the town. Defence analysts told IRIN on Friday Zimbabwe's strategy in the DRC is one of "minimum risk", using force only when necessary and concentrating more on training local Congolese forces. According to the analysts, the rebels had not yet been able to counter Zimbabwe's advantages of armour on the ground and airpower, by overruning airfields and using shoulder-fired missiles.
Hardship in rebel areas fuelling demand for talks
Living conditions in the rebel-held east of the country are now "really very difficult on the ground" and people's disenchantment with persistent economic hardship and, as a result, with the war is a definite factor in the pressure on rebel forces to seek some political solution to the conflict, a humanitarian source told IRIN on Friday. "In general, the people are fed up of the war" and they wanted Ugandan and Rwandan forces - particularly the latter, who are "deeply unpopular" with many Congolese - to return home, he added.
With the war having cut off the east from Kinshasa - its traditional source of supplies, whether by air or river - prices had increased substantially and people were finding it hard to make ends meet, he said. An AFP report added that fuel and food, which now have to be imported from Rwanda or Uganda, have more than tripled in price in the past 10 months while smuggling and opportunistic profiteering have exacerbated the situation.
Chad to hand over prisoners of war
Chad is holding 119 prisoner of war, including 27 Ugandans and about 10 Rwandans, after its withdrawal from DRC, according to Chadian Foreign Minister, Mahamay Saleh Annadif, quoted on Radio France Internationale on Thursday. The prisoners, who were being held in Chad, had been visited by the ICRC, he said. The Ugandans and Rwandans would soon be exchanged for Chadian POWs held by those countries under the supervision of the ICRC, while the remaining prisoners, Congolese rebels, would be handed over to the DRC authorities, Annadif added.
RWANDA: ICTR Chief Prosecutor steps down
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (and for former Yugoslavia), Louise Arbour, is to resign in order to take up a post with the Canadian Supreme Court, the Hirondelle news agency reported on Friday. She is due to leave the Tribunal on 15 September. The announcement follows a recent decision by an appeal court at the ICTR clearing the way for joint trials, which Arbour hoped would speed up procedures. The ICTR has been criticised for its slow progress.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: WFP takes "stop-gap measure"
WFP on Thursday announced it had borrowed US $1.5 million from its emergency fund to meet the "immediate" food needs of some 100,000 of the worst-affected people returning to Brazzaville. In a statement, WFP said the one-month supplies were a "stop-gap measure" until it received contributions for its US $7 million emergency operation to feed 200,000 people over the next three months. The returnees, mostly Congolese women and children, have spent the last several months in the bush subsisting on leaves and roots. "Each day approximately 1,500 people have been streaming into Brazzaville and Pointe Noire after the government opened two humanitarian corridors in early May," WFP said.
Congolese army reportedly recaptures Lueto
Government forces in the Republic of Congo have reportedly recaptured Lueto, the former Ninja militia base in Pool region, Radio France Internationale said on Thursday. Quoting military sources, RFI said the locality was recaptured following fierce fighting in which several rebels were killed and some government forces seriously wounded.
UGANDA: Cholera kills 14 in Bundibugyo
Humanitarian sources confirmed to IRIN on Friday that 14 people have died following a fresh cholera outbreak in displaced people's camps in Bundibugyo, western Uganda. A source from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said 130 cases had so far been reported, but the situation was now improving since the arrival of an MSF team in the area on Monday. He said no deaths had been reported over the past two days.
Defence spending trimmed
Ugandan Finance Minister Gerald Ssendawula on Thursday announced a reduction in the defence budget to 177 billion shillings for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. This means the defence budget now accounts for two percent of Uganda's GDP, compared to 2.4 per cent in the last fiscal year, media reports said. In his budget speech, broadcast on Radio Uganda, the minister said, however, that security issues must "continue to be accorded the highest priority in the budget".
The IMF's Resident Representative in Uganda, Zia Ebrahim-Zadeh, on Friday described the announcement as a "positive move". "It is in line with the level agreed for Uganda's mid-term framework, it is quite impressive," he told IRIN. "We are very happy about this."
Nairobi, 11 June 1999, 13:30 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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