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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. 713 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 13 July 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Wamba group denies dissolution claim
The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) faction led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba on Tuesday denied reports that the majority of its officials had resigned to form a new movement under the group's former spokesman, Willy Mishiki. "A large number of people who joined the rebel movement at the beginning did so just to resolve their own problems. Mishiki is an example of this," RCD-Kisangani rapporteur Jacques Depelchin told IRIN. Mishiki had left the group "simply because his own personal ambitions were not satisfied", he added. Depelchin said Wamba's group still had widespread popular support and had an estimated 15,000-20,000 soldiers in its ranks. "Our position remains that we want to continue to fight for sustainable peace and democratic transformation in the Congo," Depelchin said.
Moise Nyarugabo, Vice-President of the mainstream RCD-Goma, told IRIN the reported defections were due to Wamba's supporters "realising their mistake". He said they would be welcomed back to the mainstream RCD. Nyarugabo added that the so-called declaration of an autonomous province in Ituri district, Province Oriental, was "an attempt by Wamba at secessionism, which we totally reject". "We reject the balkanisation of Congo," he said. "Wamba is seeking every possible way to find a small space for himself."
Supply of Ugandan passports denied
Depelchin also denied reports that Wamba's group had been supplied with Ugandan passports. Uganda's 'Sunday Monitor' quoted a government official as saying Wamba had approached the Ugandan authorities requesting passports and "his wish was granted". However, Depelchin said there was "no foundation" to the report. "I don't have a Ugandan passport...As far as I know, Wamba doesn't either," he told IRIN.
UN mission on hold
Following the failure by rebels to sign the Lusaka ceasefire accord, the UN has put on hold the mission of an advance team to assess conditions for peacekeeping troops in the DRC. A small team however is due to go to Lusaka for consultations with the Joint military Commission of the six countries involved in the conflict.
Meanwhile, in a press statement on Monday, the Security Council expressed "dismay" over the refusal by the three rebel groups to sign the agreement. It said the accord was the "only effective way of bringing about national reconciliation and peace" in the DRC. Security Council members urged the rebels to resolve their differences and sign the agreement "as soon as possible". "Earnest efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict...should not be held hostage to the internal division among the rebels," the statement said.
Kabila says accord signed by "rebels' bosses"
At the OAU summit in Algiers, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged continued UN assistance to try and overcome conflicts in Africa, including DRC. President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who is attending the summit, on Monday said it did not matter whether the rebels signed or not. "The rebels' bosses have signed," news organisations quoted him as saying. "The rebels are nothing but militiamen created by the invaders of Congo, who of course are Rwanda and Uganda." News organisations said he asked French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin - who is in Algiers as an observer - for help in implementing the ceasefire. According to AFP, Josselin reportedly replied that his country would be ready to develop cooperation with the DRC once the ceasefire was in force and a national dialogue underway.
Zimbabwe to pull out troops
Zimbabwean Defence Minister Moven Mahachi has said his country will begin withdrawing troops from DRC in three to four months' time, Zimbabwean radio reported on Monday. He added that in compliance with the Lusaka accord, prisoners of war should be released by this Wednesday (14 July).
Fear of potential "massive" influx in Lubumbashi
Local authorities in Lubumbashi are "apprehensive" about massive population movements taking place in Katanga province as a result of military activities, the latest weekly WFP emergency report said. The authorities fear the displaced may seek refuge in Lubumbashi, where no assistance is available, the report said. There are currently 6,250 displaced persons in the town, the report added.
Meanwhile, WFP is providing relief food to refugees from the Pool region of Congo-Brazzaville who are at a new transit camp set up by UNHCR in Mbanza-Ngungu, 150 km from Kinshasa, the report added.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army reportedly captures Sibiti
Government forces have captured the town of Sibiti from the Cocoye militia allied to former president Pascal Lissouba, Reuters reported on Saturday. It quoted a military source as saying the militia had been pushed out of Sibiti, in the Lekoumou region, over the past few days.
BURUNDI: Growing concern over insecurity
Humanitarian organisations in Burundi have expressed growing concern over the security situation in the country. The UN and most NGOs have suspended travel out of Bujumbura, due to frequent ambushes along upcountry roads, and organisations fear the prolonged suspension of operations may seriously impact on the humanitarian situation. The US State Department has also expressed concern over the surge in violence. "Differences should be resolved over the negotiating table, not on the battlefield," a State Department statement said.
Analysts told IRIN the deteriorating security situation risks adversely affecting the Arusha peace process, an aim of rebel movements who have not been invited to the talks. In a recent statement, the CNDD-FDD rebel faction of Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye accused the facilitator, Julius Nyerere, of having a "hidden agenda". The government has also called for the inclusion of CNDD-FDD whose forces, based in Tanzania and DRC, are responsible for many of the attacks in Burundi.
Tension rising at Arusha
The Hirondelle news agency on Monday noted that tension was rising at the current session of peace talks in Arusha. It said the mostly-Tutsi parties, known as the G8 group, blamed "genocidal terrorist groups" for the recent violence, but also accused the government of "repression against political parties and the media". Hirondelle recalled that the 18 sides taking part in the Arusha talks have divided into three blocs - the government, parliament and internal FRODEBU; the mostly Hutu parties known as "G7"; and the Tutsi "G8" parties. The government group is reported to have threatened to pull out of the negotiations unless there was an immediate cessation of hostilities on the ground, Hirondelle said.
Burundi's Second Vice-President Mathias Sinamenye on Sunday again criticised Tanzania for "sheltering" Burundian rebels, the BBC Kirundi service reported. Speaking during a visit to Burundi's tense Makamba province which borders Tanzania, he said "one cannot unite and disunite at the same time". In reference to the Arusha peace process, he described as "worrying" the fact that Burundi's future was being discussed in Tanzania. "A mediator...whose job is to bring together people, cannot cause friction among the sides," Sinamenye said. "Therefore, we ask Tanzania to stop as quickly as possible the habit of sending killers to attack Makamba and other areas of Burundi."
TANZANIA: High proportion of weapons seized in west
The independent 'Guardian' daily in Tanzania reports that the majority of weapons and ammunition seized in the country last year were discovered in western areas. Home Affairs Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed revealed in parliament at the weekend that over a quarter of the 418 firearms and half the 2,076 rounds of ammunition found nationwide were seized in the Mbeya and Kigoma regions. He added that 538 suspects were arrested throughout the country, 126 of them from the west. The newspaper noted the volatility of western Tanzania due to large numbers of refugees from Burundi and DRC.
Camp congestion amid continuing influx
People fleeing fighting in eastern DRC continued to arrive in western Tanzania, with some 5,900 new Congolese refugees registered at the Kibirizi reception centre last week, WFP said in its latest weekly emergency report. The report, received by IRIN on Tuesday, said efforts were being made to augment existing facilities at the Nyarugusu and Lugufu refugee camps to cater for the increasing number of refugees, who are receiving WFP food aid. Congestion in the camps has caused sanitary and environmental hazards, the report said.
Drought preventing school attendance
Meanwhile, WFP has recently approved a school-feeding programme to support primary education in drought-prone and pastoralist areas, the emergency report said. The two-year US $7 million programme will assist some 79,150 beneficiaries, it said. Chronic food insecurity and frequent droughts are the major causes in preventing many children from attending schools, the report said.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Looted weapons destroyed
Some 158 light weapons were destroyed in the capital, Bangui, on Friday as part of a disarmament operation undertaken by the UN Mission in CAR (MINURCA). In a statement received by IRIN on Monday, MINURCA said the destroyed weapons, thrown into fire during a symbolic ceremony, were either defective or of unknown origin and had been recuperated by MINURCA or the former African MISAB forces since 1997. "This destruction of weapons constitutes....a systematic rejection of the instruments of war," UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji was quoted as saying in the statement. He added this "proved that the people of CAR have understood that those instruments contribute to a form of regression and to hindering development".
Some 1,590 light and heavy weapons - out of 2,507 that were looted - have been recuperated since the start of the operation, which followed clashes between army mutineers and MISAB forces in June 1997. Also collected were 500,000 bullets and 27,000 explosives, the statement said. Recuperated weapons that are not destroyed will be handed over to local authorities at the end of MINURCA's mandate. Meanwhile, UNDP has provided funds to compensate civilians who return weapons, the statement added.
UGANDA: 10 soldiers killed by cattle rustlers
At least 10 Ugandan soldiers have been killed during an army operation to recover cattle, said to have been raided by Karamojong cattle rustlers, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported on Tuesday. The four-hour battle occurred on Saturday in the northeastern Kotido district. Four attackers were also killed and a number of injuries were reported on both sides.
Nairobi, 13 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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