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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-CEA Update No. 696 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 18 June 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: RCD to sign peace deal - Chiluba
The government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila and the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) will be the only two Congolese signatories to a peace agreement expected to be signed at a heads of state summit next week, chief SADC mediator and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said on Thursday at the end of a meeting in South Africa on the DRC conflict attended by regional leaders. The summit is now scheduled for 26 June in the Zambian capital, Lusaka.
Foreign ministers to prepare ground for summit
The presidents of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda agreed at Thursday's meeting that the foreign ministers involved in the DRC peace process would meet in Lusaka on Monday to prepare the ground for the summit and ensure it actually produced a result, news agencies reported on Friday. Representatives of the three rebel factions - RCD-Goma, RCD-Kisangani and the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) - did not participate directly in the South African meeting but were regularly consulted, news agencies said.
Gaddafi welcomes Rwandan peace proposal, keeps details secret
Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi said Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu had made "a new peace proposal" to him at a meeting on Thursday, media sources reported. Gaddafi did not reveal details of the proposal but said he would personally present it at the 26 June Lusaka summit.
Opposition politicians released
The DRC government has released Joseph Olenghankoy and two other opposition politicians from jail, news agencies reported on Friday. Olenghankoy, leader of the FONUS party, had served one year of a 15-year sentence for threatening state security and flouting a ban on political activity. A spokesman for Olenghankoy welcomed the release as "noticeable progress towards the easing of political tension", Gabonese radio reported on Thursday. Also released were Mathieu Kalele and Francois Kabanda.
RCD harasses human rights group
RCD military authorities vandalised the office of a local human rights group in Bukavu on Tuesday, a statement from the association said. The statement by Groupe Jeremie, received by IRIN on Friday, said the authorities had broken into the office, taken away all its documents and materials, and used large padlocks to prevent access into the office. Members of the group have been threatened with arrest, the statement added.
50 cholera deaths in capital
A total of 459 cholera cases were reported from 12 health centres in Kinshasa between January and May, and some 50 deaths were attributed to the disease, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Thursday. They said recent cholera cases had also been reported in parts of Province Orientale, Equateur, Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces. Congolese state television on Tuesday said the health minister and its partners were increasing their interventions on the ground in response to the cholera outbreak, which was "already spreading rapidly."
RWANDA: Ceasefire agreement "unlikely," Minister says
Minister of State for the Presidency, Patrick Mazimhaka, on Friday said he considered it unlikely that a DRC ceasefire agreement would be signed in Lusaka on 26 June, news agencies reported. Mazimhaka said he was "very disappointed" by Thursday's meeting of regional leaders in South Africa, saying "people just sat around and talked, and didn't look at any serious issues." There remained persistent obstacles to the peace process, he added.
Rutaganda denies all charges in genocide trial
The defence counsel for the former vice-president of the Interahamwe militia, Georges Rutaganda, on Thursday told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, that Rutaganda was "truly innocent" of genocide and crimes against humanity. In her closing arguments on the final day of the two-year trial, Canadian lawyer Tiphaine Dickson said her client had not committed any of the crimes alleged but, rather, "did what he could to save people's lives" and cooperated with UNAMIR and the Red Cross, the independent Hirondelle news agency said.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government and rebels condemned for rights abuses
Hundreds of unarmed civilians and captured combatants were extrajudicially executed in 1998 by Congolese government forces and allied militia, mostly in counter-insurgency operations after attacks on security forces, Amnesty International said in its annual report released on Wednesday. It said there were dozens of deaths and 'disappearances' in custody, while the Ninja militia and other armed opposition groups were also responsible for "deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians."
UGANDA: Over 21,000 abducted by LRA
More than 21,000 people, including over 6,000 children, have been abducted by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda over the past 13 years, UNICEF said. "There are another 2,000 children whose names are yet to be verified by UNICEF. The figure of abducted children could therefore rise to 8,000," a UNICEF official in Kampala told IRIN on Thursday.
Soldiers trained in child protection
Meanwhile, an initiative to incorporate child rights issues into the training curricula of Ugandan soldiers and officers has begun, with the support of several NGOs. A training session recently organised in Kampala aimed to assist the Ugandan People's Defense Forces (UPDF) to know "how to handle the encounter with and reintegration of abducted children forced to become soldiers and wives by the LRA," said an SCF-Sweden statement received by IRIN on Thursday. The training course "drew a lot of interest from the soldiers with some realising they had been abusers unintentionally. It has resulted in the army opting to work more closely with the local communities," an SCF official told IRIN. Other organisations supporting the effort include SCF-Denmark and the local Gulu Support Children Organisation (GUSCO).
77 suspected terrorists arrested
Uganda security forces arrested 77 people in connection with "acts of terrorism" committed in eastern and western Uganda, news agencies said.
Uganda's Director of Military Intelligence Henry Tumukunde on Wednesday told reporters in Kampala that the acts were being coordinated by Muslim fundamentalist groups operating with the help of the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, the Associated Press (AP) said. Some 28 terrorist attacks had killed 55 people and injured 183 in Kampala since 1997, news agencies said.
Sudan denies charge
Meanwhile, the Embassy of Sudan in Nairobi on Thursday denied having any involvement "whatsoever " with the attacks. "It is unfortunate that Uganda regards Sudan as its first enemy and issues all manner of propaganda against it," embassy spokesman Al Mansour Bolad told IRIN. "This embassy exists for diplomatic purposes. We have not and will never utilise its existence to mastermind rebel activities," he said, adding that Sudan did not control its borders with Uganda.
Harvesting in state forests suspended to protect resources
Environment Minister Kezimbira Miyingo has suspended tree harvesting for timber, charcoal and poles from forests owned by the central government or local authorities, effective from Sunday, in order to regularise the exploitation of forest resources and guard against environmental degradation, the 'Monitor' newspaper reported on Wednesday. "Ugandans will admit that unless we seriously guard our forests, the country stands to destroy its environment", Miyingo said.
KENYA: Most parts remain "unusually" dry
A report from USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) said most parts of Kenya remained "unusually" dry last month, with the exception of coastal and western areas. It said the continued absence of rainfall was of "pronounced concern" in pastoral districts, drought-prone marginal agricultural areas and some key grain-producing districts in Rift Valley province.
FEWS noted that the welfare of farm households in marginal agricultural areas had been undermined significantly and livestock migration in pastoral districts had been "earlier than usual." "That migration is expected to compromise substantially the food security status of especially the sedentary members of the pastoralists' households," the report said. Meteorological forecasts indicate that these areas would continue to experience dry conditions in June, while the western half of the country would receive "normal to above normal" rainfall.
Nairobi, 18 June 1999, 14:30 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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