IRIN-CEA Update 712 for 12 July [19990712]

IRIN-CEA Update 712 for 12 July [19990712]

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. 712 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 12 July 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels fail to sign ceasefire

The Lusaka ceasefire accord was thrown into disarray over the weekend, after the three rebel factions refused to sign it. Leaders of the six countries involved in the DRC conflict put their names to the accord, but the mainstream rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)refused to acknowledge the signature of its ousted president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba. RCD Vice-President Moise Nyarugabo said Wamba could sign in his own right, but not on behalf of the RCD, and called into question the role of the mediator "who allowed Wamba to sneak into the conference hall", the Rwanda News Agency reported. The leader of the third rebel group, Jean-Pierre Bemba who heads the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), said he would not sign unless Wamba did, and vowed to continue fighting.

Fourth rebel group created

Meanwhile, Wamba's former spokesman Willy Mishiki of the RCD-Kisangani faction announced the group's dissolution and said it had been "replaced" by a new civilian organisation, the Movement for Security, Peace and Development (MSPD). He told RNA on Sunday that Wamba's leadership had been characterised by "political immobility, lethargy and a strong leaning towards inciting ethnic hatred and tribalism". He added that tension was high in Kisangani where Ugandan soldiers were "hunting down the [RCD] parliamentarians and their supporters who have deposed Wamba". Regional analysts told IRIN on Monday that as Uganda backs two of the factions - Bemba and Wamba -, Rwanda was afraid of "losing out" in the DRC and may have offered support for this group.

Gbadolite reportedly attacked by Sudanese plane

MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba claimed a Sudanese war plane on Sunday bombed the northwest town of Gbadolite where the MLC now has its headquarters, news organisations reported. He said the Antonov plane flew from the Central African Republic capital Bangui and dropped a bomb near Gbadolite airport. No damage was reported.

Last premier under Mobutu back in Kinshasa

The last prime minister under ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko has returned to Kinshasa, news organisations reported. General Likulia Bolongo, who fled when President Laurent-Desire Kabila came to power in 1997, said he had returned at Kabila's invitation and would participate in national reconstruction.

BURUNDI: DRC peace "long and difficult" - Buyoya

President Pierre Buyoya, who witnessed the signing ceremony in Lusaka, said achieving peace in DRC would be "long and difficult", but stressed that Burundi supported the Lusaka peace process. In comments broadcast by Burundi radio on Saturday, he said peace in the DRC was in Burundi's interests. "Peace in the DRC means peace in Burundi," he noted.

Rebels said heading for Burundi from South Kivu

The private news agency Azania on Monday reported that Burundian rebels had been observed between Dine and Mboko in South Kivu, eastern DRC, en route for Burundi across Lake Tanganyika. The agency also said the Kibira forest in northwest Burundi was "little by little" again turning into a rebel base, following reports of attacks witnessed by the local population. It cited military sources as saying ambushes along the Bujumbura-Bugarama road were carried out by rebels who then took refuge in the forest.

Buyoya's residence not targeted, government says

Burundian Information Minister Luc Rukingama on Saturday denied that shooting last week in the hills above Bujumbura was aimed at President Buyoya's residence. He said it was just random firing. Residents of Bujumbura confirmed to IRIN rebel fire is often heard at night in the hills around the capital.

Meanwhile, in a statement received by IRIN on Monday, one of the rebel groups, PALIPEHUTU, repeated its warning to foreigners to leave Burundi saying it would not be responsible "for any incident" that happened to them.

Refugees participate in Arusha process

Meanwhile, at the ongoing Arusha peace talks, refugee representatives have, for the first time, been invited to the process, the Hirondelle news agency reported. It said a six-member delegation put forward refugee concerns including reintegration into the Burundi state service for former civil servants, guarantees for private businesspeople, recuperation of goods and property left in Burundi. They also asked not to be forcefully repatriated to Burundi.

Sharp increase in malaria cases

Over 616,000 malaria cases were reported by health centres in Burundi between January and May, WHO said. A report in WHO's 'Weekly Epidemiological Record' said on Friday that there was a very sharp increase in the number of cases in some provinces compared to last year. In Mutoyi, there were 7,568 cases reported in May 1999, compared to 3,094 in May 1998. In Rutoke, there were 1,768 cases reported in May, up from 293 during the same month last year. The report said the number of malaria-related deaths was not available for all provinces, but there were 34 deaths recorded in Karusi from 15 May-15 June 1999 alone. Local authorities have taken the necessary measures to mobilise resources for drug procurement, reinforced epidemiological surveillance and vector control, the report added.

RWANDA: Northwest displaced rely on food aid

Pockets of "severe hardship" remain in parts of the northwest, in spite of significant improvements in the situation of internally displaced populations (IDPs), an OCHA report said. The report, 'Northwest Rwanda...Towards Recovery,' said much of the resettled population still had limited possibilities to engage in agricultural activities and lacked purchasing power, while "far more" needed to be done to address pressing water and sanitation needs in the area. It said "significant numbers in the northwest will remain reliant on food aid at least until the harvests of January 2000".

Some 650,000 people were displaced in the northwest prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri by the end of 1998 due to insecurity. Most have been relocated from congested IDP camps to new grouped settlements sites under the government's 'umudugudu' policy. The OCHA report said there was also need to "tackle the problems of building sustainable umudugudu villages". It said the international community had requested "assurances" on the government's "villagisation" policy, such as on the passing of land tenure laws. "Then, a new development phase for the northwest can proceed," the report said.

Crisis reduced by "partnership"

The OCHA report said an "unusually close partnership" among the government, UN agencies, donors and NGOs contributed to the success of humanitarian activities in the northwest, reducing the negative impact of the crisis. The coordinated response "helped ensure that assistance arrived, for the most part, where and when it was needed," UN Humanitarian Coordinator Stephen Browne said in the report. The success of the interventions helped the government to restore security in the area, which played a key role in tempering further population displacement, encouraging the return of Rwandan refugees from the DRC and supporting the reconciliation process, the report added.

Rwanda leaves Central Africa region

Rwanda has decided to leave the Central Africa region to join that of East Africa, the PANA news agency said on Friday. It said Rwanda had informed OAU member states of its decision in a note verbale dated 1 July. Rwanda had belonged to Central Africa since the continent was sub-divided into five geographical regions, PANA added.

Insurgency suspects sentenced

A court in Kigali-Rural prefecture has sentenced four people to death after finding them guilty of destabilising state security during the 1997-1998 insurgency in the north and northwest parts of Rwanda, Radio Rwanda reported on Saturday. Six others were sentenced to life imprisonment while seven received jail terms ranging from one to 20 years. Another seven people in the joint trial of 24 suspects were set free after the court declared them innocent, the radio added.

New World Bank loans proposed

Lending in the range of US $120-160 million has been proposed for the next two years under a World Bank country assistance strategy (CAS) for Rwanda, agreed to earlier this month, a World Bank statement said. "The chief contributions of the CAS will be to human resources and to reviving the agricultural sector," World Bank country economist Chukwuma Obidegwu was quoted as saying in the statement.

UGANDA: Museveni says only 500 ADF rebels left

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a public gathering in Fort Portal last week the Ugandan army had killed some 1,500 of an estimated 2,000 Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in western Uganda. The independent 'Monitor' daily quoted him as saying "only 500 are still lodged in the Ruwenzori region". According to documents recently seized by Ugandan soldiers from the rebels, the insurgents were planning to attack Bihanga barracks in Ibanda. Museveni gave August this year as the last chance for rebels to "retire from the bush".

Drought forces thousands to move to Tanzania

Thousands of farmers from southwestern Uganda are reportedly moving into northern Tanzania following a severe drought facing the region. The Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily said farmers were moving with their cattle as there was not enough pasture and water animal and human consumption. The drought, which began in March, has caused most of the water sources to dry up. Quoting Uganda's Principal Meteorologist Abushen Majugu, the paper said a number of people and animals had died, and the acute water shortage had led to a cholera outbreak in the region as "people are forced to drink dirty water". Worst-affected were Mbarara, Ntungamo, Lukungiri, Kabale and Sembabule districts, he added. A joint government and WFP mission has gone to the area to assess the situation and will issue a report afterwards, a WFP official in Kampala told IRIN on Monday.

AFRICA: High profits for foreign investors

Foreign investments in Africa have been consistently more profitable in recent years than in most other regions of the world, a new UN report says. The report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) - 'Foreign Direct Investment in Africa: Performance and Potential' - says that the rate of return of American investments in Africa, for example, has since 1991 been higher than in any other region, including developed countries. It says many African countries have made considerable efforts over the past decade to improve their investment climate, such as increasing the role of the private sector, reducing inflation rates and budget deficits, providing tax and other incentives, strengthening the rule of law, and becoming parties to international agreements dealing with foreign direct investment.

Twenty-six of the 32 least-developed countries in Africa covered in a 1997 survey had "a liberal or relatively liberal regime for the repatriation of dividends and capital", the report adds. "Too often Africa has been associated only with pictures of civil unrest, starvation, deadly diseases and economic disorder, and this has given many investors a negative picture of Africa as a whole." But, the report goes on, this is "not a true picture of the majority of African countries". Partly as a result of a negative image and in spite of high profit potential, investment flows into Africa remain relatively low and totalled only US $9 billion in 1997, less than what was received by Singapore alone, according to the report (

Nairobi, 12 July 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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