IRIN-CEA Update 719 for 21 July [19990722]

IRIN-CEA Update 719 for 21 July [19990722]

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. 719 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 21 July 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ceasefire implementation bodies formed

Defence and foreign ministers from combatant countries in the DRC conflict on Tuesday established two bodies to implement the Lusaka ceasefire agreement: a ministerial-level committee to act as the supreme advisory body until the UN deployed peacekeepers, and a Joint Military Commission (JMC) to monitor day-to-day adherence to the ceasefire on the ground, news agencies reported. The Lusaka meeting was adjourned later on Tuesday and would reconvene once the OAU had appointed a neutral chairman of the JMC, Zambian Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Silwamba told national radio.

In attendance at the Lusaka meeting were DRC, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda, each of which nominated two representatives to the JMC, Silwamba said. The only parties to the conflict who had not nominated representatives were the Congolese rebels, who were invited to take part but failed to attend, he added. The rebels remain divided as to who should sign the agreement. Emile Ilunga's mainstream Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) says it will not sign if the leader of the breakaway faction, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, is allowed to do so. Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) has said it will not sign the agreement if Wamba is precluded from doing so.

Chiluba postpones trip to assess rebel split

Meanwhile, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba delayed until later in the month a proposed weekend trip to Uganda and Kisangani in northeast DRC that was intended to give him a better understanding of the RCD split, media sources reported. "I will follow up the various rebel factions. I am sure they will see the urgent need to stop the war", IPS news agency quoted Chiluba as saying.

Security Council again urges rebels to sign ceasefire

The UN Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the progress made, "in particular on the establishment of the mechanisms for the future implementation of the ceasefire", but reiterated its dismay at the rebels not having signed. After a briefing by Bernard Miyet, Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping, council members again called on "the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and other governments who have influence, to make all the necessary efforts so that rebel movements sign ... and for rebel movements to abide by the ceasefire pending their signature of the agreement".

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN help sought to cope with Congolese refugees

The volume of Congolese refugees arriving in Bangui slowed down to tens on Wednesday after numbering in the thousands on Monday and Tuesday, due to fears of the Congolese rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) taking the city of Zongo, just across the river, in a continuing offensive, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. The MLC's advances had brought an influx of 4,000 Congolese refugees into Bangui since the weekend, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Oluyemi Adeniji, told reporters on Tuesday. The total number of new Congolese arrivals in the Central African Republic was estimated on Wednesday to be between 14,000 and 15,000. The influx had led President Ange-Felix Patasse to write to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan requesting urgent humanitarian assistance to provide for them. While no pledges had yet been made, the request would be included in an imminent statement on humanitarian needs, Adeniji said.

Security Council concerned at "minimal progress" on security issues

The UN Security Council on Tuesday "expressed dismay at the negative impact of continued fighting" and at the minimal progress reported by the Secretary General's Special Representative, Oluyemi Adeniji, on security issues underpinning the consolidation of democracy. Stressing that the CAR government had "primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security", Council members underlined the need for it to restructure the armed forces, keep special defence forces from assuming law and order functions beyond their mandate and ensure a secure environment in the run-up to elections slated, in two rounds, for 29 August and 2 September.

No funding for emergency food aid

WFP has so far received no donor funding for an emergency food aid project targeting 350,000 war-affected people in the DRC, a WFP regional spokesperson told IRIN on Wednesday. "There is a 100 percent funding shortfall", which is preventing WFP from implementing the project approved in mid-June, she said. "This is very serious because the general nutritional situation is thought to be precarious," the spokesperson added.

The US $29 million project would provide six months of relief food to some 200,000 displaced persons and another 150,000 vulnerable people in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma, Bukavu, Uvira, Kisangani, Mbuji-Mayi and Mbandaka. Of this amount, an estimated 52,500 severely-malnourished women and children would receive supplementary nutritional assistance. A WFP project document received by IRIN said the relatively high cost of the operation, which would distribute over 37,000 mt of food commodities, was due partly to the high transport costs associated with the poor state of road and communications infrastructure in the country.

49 opposition activists arrested

The DRC authorities have arrested 49 members of the opposition Parti lumumbiste unifie (PLU) over the last few days, the AP news agency reported. It cited the party's general-secretary Godefroid Mayobo who said the arrests began last week after the PLU urged its members to resume political activity. President Laurent-Desire Kabila had banned the activities of political parties in the country, but Mayobo said he considered the signing of the Lusaka peace accord by Kabila as lifting the restrictions on political activity.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government claims recapture of Mindouli

The Congolese army, backed by Angolan troops, on Monday recaptured from Ninja rebels the town of Mindouli, a rail stop on the line from Brazzaville to the oil port of Pointe Noire, according to media reports. Army spokesman Colonel Jean-Robert Obargui was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the army, in trying to re-open the railway line which has been shut by rebel actions, would now turn its attention to the Bouenza region, former stronghold of ousted president Pascal Lissouba.

RWANDA: Government begins second phase of transitional rule

The Rwandan government on Tuesday began the second phase of transitional rule to cover a period of four years. The new transitional phase would allow the government to complete the work initiated in various sectors, Rwandan radio reported. It mentioned areas such as cementing the reconciliation process, ensuring security across the whole territory, working towards better social welfare, improving the economy and establishing true democracy. Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema said plans were underway to "draft a constitutional law for holding free and democratic elections after the current transition". The four-year extension of the transition government was reached by a forum of political parties in June. It was approved by the cabinet on 2 July.

Kagame vows to "wipe out" Interahamwe

Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame on Tuesday said as long as Hutu militiamen remained armed and received support, insecurity in the northwestern prefectures of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi would not be solved. "These groups have to be wiped out by all means - either by our troops or any troops acting in the name of the Lusaka peace agreements," Rwandan radio quoted him as saying. "The problem is not about who will carry out the disarmament, but rather that the disarmament is implemented," he added. Kagame said he was confident about the advent of a "united, reconciled, democratic and peaceful Rwanda in which Rwandans would be able to maximise their country's resources for its development". He also expressed hope that the signatories of the Lusaka peace agreement would respect their commitments and reiterated that Rwanda's involvement in the DRC war was motivated by the "concern to restore security in the northwest of the country".

Rwanda lifts visa requirement for Americans

Rwanda has announced it will lift visa requirements for US citizens, to reciprocate a similar move by the US government. Rwandan Foreign Minister Augustine Iyamuremye told the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) the new US visa regulations allow a free five-year multiple entry visa for Rwandans seeking to pursue studies, tourism and business. The Rwandan government had therefore decided to lift visa requirements for US citizens wishing to travel to Rwanda for tourism and business. "The free movement between the two countries is aimed at strengthening the already existing good relations between the two sides," he said.

Plan to sell genocide relics

A group of Rwandan businesswomen in Tanzania is planning to sell relics of the 1994 genocide, the BBC reported on Tuesday, quoting the Tanzanian 'Daily Mail' newspaper. A member of the Rwandan Businesswomen's Organisation told the paper the group was planning to open the shop in Dar es Salaam once clearance had been obtained from the Rwandan embassy. Items on sale would include skulls, bones, victims' clothing and video cassettes, she said.

BURUNDI: DRC-based rebels attacking Bujumbura Rural

The independent Azania news agency says Burundian rebel attacks in Bujumbura Rural are being launched from rear bases in the eastern DRC towns of Dine and Mboko, via Lake Tanganyika. It quoted a former insurgent as saying DRC-based rebels were also being summoned to rebel bases in Tanzania.

UGANDA: Slain ex-army chief "planning attack"

The slain ex-Obote army chief, Smith Opon Acak, who was killed by Ugandan troops on Sunday, was reportedly "planning an attack" against the government of President Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan security officials said. The independent 'Monitor' newspaper quoted the officials as saying Acak had been planning war against Uganda since his release from prison two years ago. AFP reported on Tuesday that the Ugandan troops had killed three insurgents, including Acak, after a raid on a rebel camp in the northern Lira district on Sunday. One Ugandan soldier also died during the operation. "We captured four rebels, but the rest escaped. They are helping us to find out whether there are more rebels than those we found in the camp," army commander Jeje Odongo told AFP. The rebels are said to be members of a new armed opposition group, the Citizens Army for Multiparty, led by Acak.

Nairobi, 21 July 1999, 14:30 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1276

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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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