IRIN-CEA Update 717 for 19 July [19990719]

IRIN-CEA Update 717 for 19 July [19990719]

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. 717 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 19 July 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Annan proposes intervention plan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday "strongly recommended" that the UN Security Council immediately authorise the deployment of 90 military personnel to the DRC. In a report to the Council on UN "preliminary deployment," Annan said he was also prepared, as a second stage, to recommend a further deployment of up to 500 military observers within the DRC and, as required, to the "belligerent and other neighbouring states." The proposed UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) would be led by a Special Representative, to be appointed "in due course," the report said. Since a "purely military solution appears to be impossible", Annan intended to submit to the Council detailed proposals for the subsequent deployment of a peacekeeping mission.

In the report, received by IRIN on Monday, Annan said the initial 90 military personnel would serve mainly as liaison officers to the national capitals and rear military headquarters of the main belligerents, especially Kinshasa and elsewhere in the DRC, Kigali, Kampala, Luanda, Harare and Windhoek. There would also be a liaison cell at Lusaka and the immediate deployment of backup civilian, political and humanitarian staff. The report follows the 10 July signing - by leaders of the six belligerent countries - of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, which has not yet been signed by the Congolese rebel groups.

"Armed groups" at core of crisis

The presence of armed groups in the DRC was a "particularly difficult and sensitive" problem, Annan said in the report. "It lies at the core of the conflict in the sub-region and undermines the security of all the states concerned" he said, adding that there could be no lasting peace unless that issue were resolved. Annan said he was encouraged that the Lusaka ceasefire agreement permitted countries in the region to grant amnesty to members of their armed groups, with the exception of genocide suspects. Annan also stressed the need for a well-funded long-term programme for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration into society of former combatants.

Fresh ministerial talks in Lusaka

Meanwhile, defence and foreign affairs ministers from the belligerent countries were scheduled to meet in Lusaka on Monday afternoon to start work on establishing the Joint Military Commission (JMC) set out in the ceasefire agreement, news agencies said. The JMC, comprising two military officials from each belligerent party under a neutral OAU-appointed chairman, is to monitor implementation of the peace pact. The meeting was also expected to look into the continuation of fighting in the DRC in spite of the truce accord, news agencies said.

Chiluba awaited in Kisangani

Sources in Kisangani said chief DRC mediator and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba had not yet arrived in rebel-held Kisangani to meet the leaders of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) factions. News agencies had reported on Friday that Chiluba was expected in the city as part of efforts to resolve the rebel leadership divisions that have so far prevented full signature of the Lusaka agreement. "We have had no confirmation [of Chiluba's visit to Kisangani] but we are ready," RCD-Kisangani official Jacques Depelchin told IRIN on Monday. Meanwhile, Depelchin said large crowds of people desperate for peace had greeted faction leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba with shouts of "signature" when he toured the Kabondo area near Kisangani on Sunday.

Faction accused of violating Kabale agreement

Depelchin accused the RCD-Goma group of illegally detaining several Wamba supporters, in contravention of an agreement reached at a rebel reconciliation meeting held in Kabale, Uganda, in May. Those under detention included Congolese journalist Jean-Pierre Wabo as well as junior and senior military officers, he told IRIN. The rector and other authorities of Kisangani university had been removed from their posts over the weekend because they were "considered to not be for the Goma group," Depelchin added.

EU calls for rebel signature

The European Union (EU) on Saturday urged the rebels to immediately cease all hostilities and sign the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. In a statement received by IRIN on Monday, the EU also appealed to the Rwandan and Ugandan governments to "use their influence" on the RCD and the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) to convince them to sign and respect the ceasefire. The statement said the EU would follow closely the belligerent countries' respect of the accord, which would affect "all aspects" of its future relations with the countries concerned.

The EU pledged to support implementation of the agreement, if respected by the belligerents. It would also facilitate the return of refugees and displaced people, the reintegration of combatants, national reconciliation and the rehabilitation of the DRC, the statement added.

TANZANIA: Participation in DRC force envisaged

Tanzania is prepared to contribute troops to a peacekeeping force in the DRC, news agencies reported on Saturday. "Tanzania will fully cooperate with the OAU or the UN to provide peacekeeping forces in the former Zaire," Defence Minister Edgar Maokola-Majogo was quoted as saying in 'The Guardian' newspaper. He said he was "optimistic" that peace would be restored in the DRC, in spite of reports of continuing clashes since 10 July.

BURUNDI: Talks end in stalemate

The current round of Arusha peace talks ended in disarray on Saturday, with the facilitator, ex-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, lashing out at the Burundi government. According to the Hirondelle news agency, he accused the government of "rejecting" all his suggestions. "I don't want someone to say that I'm responsible for the stalemate," he told the closing session. A constant stumbling block to the peace talks has been the perceived opposition of the Nyerere Foundation to include rebel faction leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye in the Arusha process. The facilitator announced that the next round of talks would take place in Arusha on 6 September. [For full story, see separate IRIN item of 19 July, headlined "BURUNDI: Nyerere slams government as talks end in stalemate"].

Donors unsure about funding

Tanzanian radio meanwhile quoted Western diplomats in Tanzania as saying the talks had been a "financial drain", and donors were not sure whether more funds would be forthcoming. "The envoys said it was a pity that many of the participants in the talks seemed to treat the meetings as holidays," the radio reported. The envoys added that the current round of talks had failed to address the issue of reaching a ceasefire and no agreement was reached on the government's term in office.

UGANDA: Rebels kill 8 in Bundibugyo

Eight people were killed on Saturday in an attack by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on the Bumadu displaced persons' camp in the western district of Bundibugyo, the 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Monday. It said some 1,000 Ugandan soldiers had since arrived in Bundigugyo to reinforce the region against further ADF attacks.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Upsurge in Bangui tension

Citing a "sudden upsurge in tension" in Bangui, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended on Thursday that the strength of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) be increased by 148 troops. In a report to the UN Security Council, received by IRIN on Monday, Annan said a series of recent violent incidents involving the Chadian community in the city had created a "climate of widespread fear and insecurity among civilians." The entry into the country of some 5,000 Congolese soldiers fleeing the rebel capture of Gbadolite in the DRC earlier this month had also fueled tensions.

The upsurge in tension was "a serious cause of concern as the country approaches the presidential elections," now scheduled for 29 August, the report said. Political parties preparing for the elections have begun to exchange "mutual accusations of non-democratic behaviour and the amassing of arms," Annan said in the report. The delay in the promulgation of laws to restructure the CAR armed forces and the lack of progress in limiting the duties of the presidential guard (FORSDIR) were other sources of concern, the report added. The proposed troop increase would bring MINURCA's military component to 1,498.

Nairobi, 19 July 1999, 16:00 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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