IRIN-CEA Update 714 for 14 July [19990714]

IRIN-CEA Update 714 for 14 July [19990714]

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. 714 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 14 July 1999)


Sporadic fighting has continued in the DRC, despite the recent ceasefire signed in Lusaka. Leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) Jean-Pierre Bemba told IRIN on Wednesday that fighting had been going on "especially since the first day" after the signing of the agreement. "Kabila sent his allies from Sudan who bombed our headquarters, Gbadolite," Bemba said. "Luckily there were no casualties." Other areas that have witnessed clashes, "provoked by Kabila's forces", are Kabinda in Kasai-Oriental province and Ikela in Equateur province, Bemba added.

He said although Wednesday was quiet - "so far, no incidents" - the future was "uncertain". "Kabila finds pleasure and satisfaction when he hears his people have killed," Bemba said. "But we are waiting for them. We hear the [DRC] army is preparing for attacks. We cannot sit and watch as innocent people are killed. Our troops will fight on and Kabila will go."

Kabila says war not over

Kabila meanwhile told Radio France Internationale on Tuesday the signing of the ceasefire accord was the "beginning of a process". "It means, in a word, that the war has not ended yet," he said, acknowledging that fighting was still continuing.

Peace moves pushed at OAU summit

Speaking in Algiers on Tuesday, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said the OAU and the UN would soon establish a Joint Military Commission (JMC) to monitor the ceasefire agreement signed by leaders of the six countries involved in the DRC conflict, news agencies reported. Chiluba said the OAU was now working on "modalities" for sending peacekeepers and appointing an independent chairperson for the JMC, to be composed of military officials from the six belligerent countries. The accord, approved in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Saturday, has not yet been signed by the three Congolese rebel groups.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on the margins of the OAU summit in Algiers on Tuesday, held a joint meeting on the DRC with President Laurent-Desire Kabila, the presidents of Namibia and Zimbabwe and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, a UN statement said.

Chiluba to help resolve rebel signature dilemma

Chiluba also said on Tuesday that he would soon find ways to convince the rebels to lay down their arms. "No-one was against the contents of the peace agreement," he stated. Chiluba has said he would help the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) to resolve its internal dispute, stemming from the May ouster of its president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, to enable the movement to sign the accord. The 'Times of Zambia' on Monday reported that Chiluba planned a mission to rebel-held territory and that he would also analyse the RCD's constitution, "particularly clauses on election and impeachment of leaders".

Bemba trying to resolve RCD leadership wrangles

MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba expressed dismay over the ongoing wrangles between RCD faction leaders Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and Emile Ilunga, saying they were "hampering" the struggle against the "common enemy". "Both leaders are power hungry," he told IRIN. "They want to become president but my fear is that they may not then be different from Kabila." Bemba added that both men were his "good friends", and he was trying to bring them together to resolve their differences. So far "they have refused", he said. "Each party blames the other for their different approach to solving the crisis."

Kabila offers amnesty to rebels

DRC Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo announced on Tuesday in Algiers that Kabila had decided to grant a "general amnesty to all members of the rebellion, including soldiers, civilians, politicians", according to Radio France Internationale (RFI). Kongolo told RFI that Kabila had instructed him "to prepare official documents for his signature as soon as I arrive in Kinshasa" on Wednesday. The amnesty measure was the result of "deliberations" at which Kabila had found the rebels' attitude to be "positive", Kongolo said.

European NGOs urge greater humanitarian aid in Kivus

A group of European NGOs, members of the Reseau europeen pour le Congo (REC), has stressed the need for humanitarian assistance in the Kivus following a recent mission to eastern DRC. They found a "steady progression" of malnutrition among displaced people and noted the lack of "systematic evaluations" of people's needs. The report urged greater international intervention in the sphere of humanitarian aid.

BURUNDI: Arusha process floundering

The peace process continued to proceed slowly in Arusha, Tanzania, amid declarations and counter-declarations from the participants. According to the Hirondelle news agency, the "G3" group of government, parliament and internal FRODEBU demanded that the "G8" group of smaller Tutsi parties withdraw a statement accusing the government of "colluding" with Hutu rebels. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the G3 group said the G8's "lying and damaging declarations are in flagrant violation of...the rules of conduct of the Arusha negotiations". It called on the Nyerere Foundation, which is facilitating the talks, to exert pressure so that the "slanderous declarations" were withdrawn.

CNDD-FDD wants direct talks with government

One of the most sensitive issues, that of army reform, is under discussion by Committee Three on "peace and security for all". However, the major armed rebel faction Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), which is excluded from Arusha has called for direct talks with the government on the issue. In a statement received by IRIN on Wednesday, CNDD-FDD proposed that once the army question was resolved and peace re-established, the Arusha process should move to Burundi so that all sectors of society could be involved in debating the nation's future. The statement, signed by CNDD-FDD leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, warned the facilitators that unless the group was involved in the peace process it would not take responsibility for the consequences "both foreseen and unforeseen".

Burundian Transport Minister Denis Nshiririmana, who is taking part in the talks, told Burundi radio on Tuesday that "methodological problems" were hampering the work of the second committee [good governance and democracy] as well as the third. "Not much was achieved last week," he admitted.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Discrete peace initiatives reported

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has been "secretly trying to make a deal" with former president Pascal Lissouba and former prime minister Bernard Kolelas to end the violence in the country, 'Africa Confidential' reported on Friday. It said Sassou's emissaries included Interior Minister Pierre Oba and a French former mercenary, Patrick Olivier. Meanwhile, Lissouba has also attempted to start negotiations through contacts with former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella, former South African president Nelson Mandela and former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, it said. Former Nigerian foreign minister Joe Garba was also trying to initiate Congo peace talks, it added.

AFRICA: UNHCR chief urges political initiatives to end refugee crisis

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, on Tuesday told African leaders in Algiers that "peace and development" were the only hope for resolving the continent's refugee crisis. According to a UNHCR statement, Ogata met the presidents of Burundi, DRC, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia to discuss regional conflicts "which continue today to create refugees". "The progress towards peace in Sierra Leone and the DRC has raised hopes for countries where civilians have suffered for years," Ogata said. "UNHCR is there caring for refugees and ready to help them go home but their return will depend on whether the peace can be sustained." "Solutions for the millions of uprooted Africans have to be part of a new commitment to peace and reconciliation," she added.

Nairobi, 13 July 1999, 14:45 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1223

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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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