IRIN-CEA Update 725 for 29 July [19990729]

IRIN-CEA Update 725 for 29 July [19990729]

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. 725 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 29 July 1999)

GREAT LAKES: US denies any bias in DRC conflict

US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Susan Rice, on Wednesday denied that her country had "in any fashion taken sides" in the DRC conflict. In an interview with 'Business Day' in Johannesburg, she said the US had "in no way condoned the intervention by Rwanda and Uganda" and persistent rumours of bias towards them were "fuelled by those who don't understand the US, or who wish to use the US to stoke domestic and regional fears for their own ends".

Rice said the US had not been more proactive in resolving the conflict because African governments had insisted on a regional solution. "Our orientation has been to be strongly but quietly supportive of their efforts - we have been very, very actively engaged - rather than trying to seize headlines and grab glory," she said.

Asked if the US would spend as much on peacekeeping and reconstruction in the DRC as it has in Kosovo, Rice said it wanted to constructively support any viable peace agreement, but there was "an important element missing - the signature of the rebel groups". The US would study whatever peacekeeping proposal is put to the UN Security Council but its inclination was to be as supportive as possible, she said. "The goodwill remains, but obviously we need to be confident that we have partners in the government and civil society with whom we can work."

France and Britain declare support for regional conference

Meanwhile, France and Britain on Wednesday announced their intention "to support African efforts to implement the Lusaka agreement" and a European initiative for a regional conference on the Great Lakes "to promote strengthened cooperation and lasting peace throughout the region". In a statement issued after bilateral talks on Anglo-French cooperation in Africa, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and his British counterpart Robin Cook said the countries would support a viable UN operation to assure peace in the Great Lakes and "the peaceful disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration" of all forces involved in the conflict.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Hundreds reported dead in tribal fighting

Hundreds of people are reported dead north of Bunia in Province Orientale as tribal warfare continues in the Djugu area. Sources in touch with the area told IRIN on Thursday fierce clashes between the Balendu and Wageregere groups had also resulted in the torching of thousands of homes and the displacement of thousands of people. Warning of a "humanitarian disaster in the making", the sources added that neighbouring ethnic groups such as the Alur and Nyali were over-stretched due to the burden of providing food and shelter to people fleeing into their areas.

South Kivu displaced returning home

Humanitarian sources say hundreds of displaced people are returning to their homes in parts of South Kivu. About 95 percent of the population of Shabunda area has reportedly returned home. There are also reports of people returning to their homes between Uvira and Baraka, after fighting forced them to flee to the surrounding mountains. However, the presence of Interahamwe militia around Katana and Walungu is still causing people to leave their home villages in those areas.

Rebel groups to meet again next week

Rebel groups are expected to meet again in Tanzania next week in a bid to break the impasse over the signing of the Lusaka peace accord, Tanzanian radio reported on Wednesday. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete, who has been brokering talks between the three factions, was quoted as saying the discussions were postponed so that the delegations could consult with their respective groups.

EU delegation meets Kabila

Representatives of member countries of the European Union held talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila in Kinshasa this week to discuss aid and reconstruction. The head of European Commission in Kinshasa, Henry Sprietsma who was present at the talks, told IRIN on Thursday the talks focused on resuming structural assistance within the framework of the recently-signed Lusaka peace accord. He said Kabila was "very happy" with the Lusaka accord. He added that most of the EU member countries were in favour of resuming aid, but this would only come about once the rebels had signed the accord and peace had returned to the country.

Kabila cracks down on ministerial squabbling

A government circular issued by President Kabila has instructed his ministers to clear their public statements with his office before issuing them and to refrain from criticising each other in public. The circular, signed by Kabila's assistant cabinet director, Godefroid Tchamlesso, and published in Kinshasa newspapers on Wednesday, was linked by Kinshasa daily 'Le Potentiel' to public disputes and humiliations between cabinet members - notably between Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji and Petroleum Minister Pierre-Victor Mpoyo over the causes of a fuel crisis in the capital, Reuters news agency reported on Thursday. The circular said Kabila's directive was intended to prevent "manipulation" by newspapers to the detriment of the government and that failure to adhere to it would be "severely sanctioned".

Human rights activists detained

Two human rights activists from the non-governmental organisation Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless) were detained on Tuesday and remained in custody on Wednesday, according to fellow rights activists, cited by Reuters news agency. The two, whose names were not given, were arrested by secret police as they prepared to send a package of reports on rights issues to the director of Voix des Sans Voix, Floribert Chebeya, who is currently in Europe, the report stated.

BURUNDI: Nyangoma's CNDD calls for direct talks with army

The rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) faction of Leonard Nyangoma has called for direct talks with the Burundian army, the private Azania news agency reported on Thursday. It quoted a spokesman for the group, Sylvestre Maruha, who said the Arusha talks would only be successful if the facilitators "defined the objective of the talks" and identified the "real belligerents". The conflicting sides should negotiate among themselves in order to create a "security force for everyone", he said. Maruha added that the donors were financing the Arusha talks without properly evaluating them.

Nyerere envoy outlines agenda for next round of Arusha talks

Azania also said the facilitator Julius Nyerere had sent his envoy, former Tanzanian premier Joseph Warioba, to Bujumbura in a bid to "clear up the misunderstanding" between the Nyerere Foundation and the government. According to the agency, Warioba said the next round of talks - due to begin on 6 September - would last six to eight weeks, longer than previously envisaged. Issues under discussion would include the transition, the electoral process and whether to integrate rebel forces in the Burundian army.

Minister says Arusha process could end soon

Burundian Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba said if there was good will on all sides, the Arusha process could conclude quickly. He told IRIN the last round of talks had not been a success, but there were "high and lows" in all peace processes and the lessons had to be learnt. He urged the facilitators "not to take sides", and to stick to their "participatory" role, rather than taking on the role of "accusers". He also said the facilitators should reconcile the sides so that there was a "coherent" agenda. Reiterating the government's view that all sides in the conflict should take part in the Arusha process, Niyonsaba said it was "completely incomprehensible to make peace in the absence of those who are waging war".

UGANDA: Minister deplores selfish and greedy NGOs

Ethics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe has strongly criticised the culture of corruption in Uganda and accused the NGO sector of harbouring "selfishness and greed". In many cases, "NGO work is motivated by selfish ambition and greed, so activities are not implemented on the ground. Integrity is the most scarce commodity on the continent," Matembe said at a human rights training workshop in Entebbe, accoding to the indepent 'Monitor' newspaper.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Regular Brazzaville service resumed by Air Afrique

Air Afrique this week resumed a regular schedule into Brazzaville, though the airline is to undertake only one weekly flight instead of three until security and technical conditions improve. The service, suspended in May because of intense fighting around the capital between government forces and Ninja rebels, resumed on Tuesday, with a flight from Paris via Benin touching down at the airport, PANA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Army claims to have retaken key town in Pool

The army on Wednesday claimed it had driven rebels out of Boko, a main town in the Pool region in the south of the country, Reuters news agency reported. Boko, a town of 30,000 residents some 107 km south-west of Brazzaville, has been in rebel hands for many months, it added.

Nairobi, 29 July 1999, 14:30 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1319

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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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