IRIN-CEA Update 711 for 9 July [19990709]

IRIN-CEA Update 711 for 9 July [19990709]

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. 711 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 9 July 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Accord will test Kabila's sincerity - Bemba

The leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, has said Saturday's signing of the Lusaka accord by heads of state will be a test of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's "sincerity". Bemba told IRIN from his new headquarters in the northwest town of Gbadolite on Friday that Kabila "never respects his signature". Bemba warned that if the ceasefire agreement was not implemented by the Kinshasa government, "we will have no choice but to continue fighting". He described the accord as a "good move", because "it is our desire, as Congolese, to bring the war to an end and build our nation". "We are ready ourselves to abide by it," he added.

Bemba confirmed that his troops had captured Gbadolite town, the birthplace of ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko, and had turned it into the MLC's headquarters. He said however that the hospitals lacked medicines and the water was not treated for lack of chemicals. "Hospitals and dispensaries here have no medicines after being looted by government forces," he said. "They also looted the chemicals for water treatment and my fear is that the area's population of about 300,000 people may get infected and epidemics may start." "I am therefore appealing to UN agencies and other international organisations on behalf of my people to come to our aid and send us medicines to equip the hospitals and chemicals to treat water," he added.

CAR leader turns down Kabila request to retake Gbadolite

The president of the Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse, has reportedly turned down a request from Kabila for help in retaking Gbadolite. News reports said hundreds of DRC soldiers fled into CAR with their weapons when Bemba's troops took the town earlier this week.

RCD says accord "a start", but doesn't mean recognition of Kabila

Vice-President of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) Moise Nyarugabo told IRIN his Goma-based movement was satisfied with the Lusaka agreement. "It is a start," he said, adding that RCD leader Emile Ilunga would sign the accord at the heads of state summit in the Zambian capital on Saturday. Nyarugabo reiterated that the RCD did not recognise any signature by its ousted president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba.

He stressed that the ceasefire accord was intended to allow inter-Congolese negotiations on the future of the country to go ahead. "It does not mean the RCD recognises Kabila as head of state, neither will it give up its territory," he said. "We didn't fight in order to hand everything back." Nyarugabo also pointed out that army integration "does not mean the RCD's troops will be incorporated into Kabila's army". He said the aim was to restructure and create a new national army. He doubted that Kabila would disarm the Interahamwe which have been fighting alongside the DRC forces, but said it would be a "nice surprise" if he did. The Lusaka agreement provides for a Joint Military Commission of the six African countries involved in the war to disarm the militias.

Kisangani group says Wamba to sign accord

Jacques Depelchin, rapporteur for the RCD-Kisangani group, said Wamba dia Wamba was still the "legal" representative of the RCD and would be in Lusaka on Saturday to sign the ceasefire accord with the heads of state and the two other rebel factions. "That's what has been agreed to," he told IRIN on Friday. Meanwhile, Wamba told IRIN on Thursday that the Goma faction had been "doing everything to reach Kinshasa" and put in place a new regime through military means. "This would be a repetition of what happened with Kabila, but without popular backing," Wamba said.

Fighting around Kabinda

Meanwhile, fighting continued around the town of Kabinda, close to the diamond centre of Mbuji-Mayi. RCD Vice-President Moise Nyarugabo said Kabila's forces had attacked rebel positions in the town and fighting was underway for control of Kabinda.

UN to "spare no effort" in DRC reconstruction

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the UN will "spare no effort" in mobilising the international community to assist in DRC's reconstruction and reconciliation. In a statement issued on Thursday, he hailed the adoption of the ceasefire agreement in Lusaka, Zambia. Annan announced he was willing to seek authorisation for the deployment of UN military observers "at an early date", with the possible subsequent deployment of a full-scale UN peacekeeping operation. A technical survey team was due to leave for DRC this week to assess the feasibility of deploying observers.

US hails accord

The US State Department welcomed the agreement and pledged "effective and constructive" support for its implementation. It urged the parties to sign the final agreement as soon as possible and "to implement and adhere to the proposed ceasefire".

RWANDA: President refuses to divulge reasons for minister's sacking

Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu on Thursday refused to give details of why he dismissed Foreign Minister Amri Sued Ismail. "I cannot expose all professional derelictions of a colleague to the media," the Rwanda News Agency quoted him as telling journalists. "But if it happens that a problem is raised by the concerned [Ismail], we will be obliged to tell the whole story." The agency earlier quoted a senior government official as saying Ismail was "not defending the interests of the country in his declarations to the media and foreigners". "He is also charged with embezzlement," the official said.

ICTR hearings adjourned

Court hearings at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, have adjourned for a month, the Internews agency reported on Friday. It said when the judges and legal staff return on 9 August, the Tribunal will, among other matters, continue with preparations for joint trials.

TANZANIA: Official reassures refugees

The regional commissioner of Kigoma in western Tanzania, Ukiwaona Ditopile Mzuzuri, has assured refugees of the government's protection, Tanzanian radio reported on Friday. He emphasised that they would "continue to be protected and provided with assistance until they were ready to return to their respective countries voluntarily". He added that the government and UNHCR would continue to assist the refugees "provided they respect the existing procedures, rules and laws of the country". The commissioner made the clarifications following a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch this week alleging the Tanzanian government was "mistreating" refugees. Government officials have dismissed the report as "rubbish".

UGANDA: WFP to step up operations in Bundibugyo

WFP is to increase its food deliveries to the western Bundibugyo district, due to a surge in internally displaced people. A WFP spokesperson told IRIN on Friday food deliveries had been hampered by insecurity, but convoys would now have military escorts and it was expected food would double from 400 mt per month in June to at least 800 mt, starting next week. Up to 17 trucks will start shuttling between Fort Portal and Bundibugyo, with three vehicles taking care of local distributions. WFP has been carrying out "stop-start deliveries" to the remote region since the convoys resumed operations two months ago. "The situation is extremely volatile," the spokesperson said. "The few people who manage to go to their farms to gather plantain and cassava rarely want to stay because the [Allied Democratic Forces] rebels who have been living off the abandoned land fire at them." WFP will cover the food needs of 80,000 displaced people. ICRC estimates at least 90,000 IDPs in the region.

Government pays Tanzania compensation for war against Amin

The Ugandan government has paid Tanzania US $7 million as compensation for its role in the war against the country's former dictator, Idi Amin, in 1979. Tanzanian radio quoted the country's Finance Minister Daniel Yona as saying the compensation was for costs incurred by the Tanzanian government during the war which overthrew Amin. He said the war costs had been regarded as a "debt owed to Tanzania".

Nairobi, 9 July 1999, 13:50 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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