IRIN-CEA Update No. 731 for Central and Eastern Africa [19990809]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 731 for Central and Eastern Africa [19990809]

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. 731 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 9 August 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ugandan troops battle Rwanda-backed RCD in Kisangani

Kisangani was reported calm, but uneasy on Monday after a weekend in which eyewitnesses said at least 14 people died in fighting between Ugandan army forces backing the Kisangani-based faction of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) and the mainstream RCD-Goma. On Sunday morning the commanders of the Ugandan and Rwandan forces - Commander James Kazini, heading the Ugandan troops who support Wamba's rebel faction, and Rwandan Commander Patrick Nyanvumba, whose men support rival leader Emile Ilunga met in an effort to restore calm and appeared to have ordered both groups to stop firing, news agencies reported. It was not clear who controlled the town afterwards though Kazini told 'Radio Liberty' on Sunday he was in charge, according to a press statement by the rival RCD-Goma.

RCD-Goma reported to disrupt Lusaka "explanation tour'"

The fighting broke out on Saturday - with clashes for control of the city centre and one of two airports - after RCD-Goma had disrupted a "tour of explanation" around Kisangani to brief the public on the Lusaka agreement, according to RCD-Kisangani spokesman Sessanga Ipongo, quoted by Radio France Internationale. The clashes were reported by media sources on Monday as an attempt by RCD-Goma to prevent a Zambian delegation from visiting Kisangani to gauge the level of popular support for Wamba dia Wamba. The gun battle closed both of Kisangani's airports and prevented the Zambians from flying in, Reuters news agency reported.

Security Council authorises deployment of military liaison group

The UN Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to authorise the deployment for three months of up to 90 UN military liaison personnel, together with necessary civilian, political, humanitarian and administrative staff, to the Joint Military Commission (JMC) established to supervise the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The group's mandate is to assist the JMC in developing modalities to implement the ceasefire agreement, provide technical assistance, get assurances of security for any military observers that might be deployed and propose any further role the UN could play once the RCD signs up to the Lusaka accord, a UN release stated. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,said he was also prepared to recommend a further deployment of up to 500 military observers within DRC and, as required, to other combatant and neighbouring states.

Goma rebels "ready to respond" to alleged Ugandan provocation

In an RCD statement received by IRIN on Monday, the first vice-president and chief military commander, Jean-Pierre Ondekane said Uganda's actions in Kisangani, proved "the will of the Ugandan Army to artificially create a political space for Wamba dia Wamba, former RCD President" and was "a serious provocation against RCD." Ondekane said the RCD (Goma) had

previously responded to several "provocations" from Kampala - disarming Ugandan-backed Wamba troops in Beni, Butembo and Bunia and rejecting Uganda's creation of a new province, Kibali-Ituri - and warned national and international opinion that RCD forces "are now ready to respond to any new provocation."

Zambian delegation holds that Congolese want peace

The Zambian delegation - who had travelled to eastern DRC to assess the rebel split, among other things - returned to Lusaka with the firm message that the Congolese people wanted peace, Zambian Minister for Presidential Affairs Eric Silwamba stated. "I have been in Goma and Kisangani, where I met political leaders. The message is the same everywhere: Congolese people want peace," RNA quoted Silwamba as saying. "I will report to President Frederick Chiluba what I have seen during this trip. I will also submit all RCD texts relating to Wamba's removal. Then my President will draw due conclusions." Silwamba also said he had not had any special mission" to meet Wamba, who he failed to meet due to the situation in Kisangani.

Mbeki attempts to give new impetus to Lusaka peace process

Meanwhile, talks are taking place at an "undisclosed" venue in South Africa between President Thabo Mbeki and Presidents Benjamin Mkapa, Yoweri Museveni and Pasteur Bizimungu of Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, news organisations reported on Monday. "This meeting is part of a diplomatic effort to end the more than 10-month war in the DRC," the BBC quoted Mbeki's spokesman as saying.

Feeding operation for Angolan refugees plagued by transport problems

Poor road conditions and the number of military roadblocks are pushing WFP into using rail transport in order to get food for general and special feeding programmes from Lubumbashi to Kisenge for over 40,000 Angolan refugees in Katanga province, but a scarcity of wagons is causing frequent delays in food dispatches and disrupting planned distributions. The number of Angolan refugees in Katanga numbered 42,990 as of Thursday last, with 24,320 in Kisenge, 14,990 in Divuma and 13,670 in Tshimbulumbulu, according to an emergency report by the agency received by IRIN on Monday.

In July, WFP established a new delivery point for Bas-Congo to avoid delays in food dispatches for some 9,000 Angolan refugee camps in Kilueka camp. Meanwhile, poor road conditions have made access to about 4,000 additional refugees accommodated by host families in Bandundu difficult, the report added.

Sudan denies bombing rebel-held towns

The Sudanese military spokesman, Mohamed Osman Yassin, on Saturday denied a DRC rebel claim that Sudanese military aircraft were helping President Laurent Kabila in his war against them. "These are false allegations that are part of a plot for finding excuses for an act of aggression against Sudan," AFP quoted him as saying. He accused Uganda of a "false charge" and said it was "massing its troops in the Equatoria region inside Sudanese territories".

Yassin was reacting to allegations by the leader of the Congolese rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, that two Sudanese Antonovs last Wednesday dropped 18 bombs on the towns of Makanza

and Bogbonga, killing over 500 people. Bemba told IRIN on Monday that there was calm in the two towns, but claimed that Congolese government troops were shelling Makanza.

The MLC leader - who last week signed the Lusaka peace accord - said he had not received any reply from the mediator of the DRC peace process, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, on the course of action he should take following the bombings.

RWANDA: New prosecutor recommended for Arusha tribunal

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended Swiss Attorney-General, Carla Del Ponte, as the new Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. "I was looking for a strong and experienced prosecutor, and I think she is very good," Annan told reporters.

The nomination has been submitted to the Security Council, which formally appoints prosecutors and judges to the Tribunals, his statement added. Del Ponte will replace departing Prosecutor Louise Arbour, a Canadian judge who has been appointed to her country's supreme court. A date has not yet been set for the Security Council to take action on Del Ponte's nomination.

Genocide suspect to be extradited from US

A US court has found that Elizaphan Ntakirutima, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), should be extradited to stand trial on genocide-related charges. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit made the decision on an appeal from the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas that Ntakirutima should be surrendered to the Tribunal. He has been detained in Texas since his arrest in 1996.

Meanwhile, Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema on Friday called for "punitive measures" against countries harbouring genocide suspects - a move which outgoing ICTR prosecutor, Louise Arbour, said was beyond the power of the Tribunal. Rwigema also wished that the trials could be held at a faster pace, and announced the government's intention to send law students to the proceedings in Arusha as part of their training.

UGANDA: Army claims successes against ADF rebels

The Ugandan army has claimed to have seized the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels' command base at Kiribata and training centre at Buhira, in eastern DRC, in a new offensive in which at least 2,000 soldiers have been freshly deployed in the Ruwenzori mountains, according to a report in the 'New Vision' newspaper on Saturday. UPDF Divisional Commander Benon Biraro has replied to an ADF request for peace talks to end the four-year rebellion, demanding that they name their proposed mediators, but has vowed to continue the army's operation in the Ruwenzoris "until the date for negotiations is fixed", the report added.

CENTRAL AFRICA: Heads of state call for humanitarian crisis unit

The heads of state of seven central African states have called for the urgent creation of a humanitarian crisis unit to address the needs and implications of war-displaced people in the region. "The problem is particularly the movement of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Central African Republic and from the Congo Republic towards Gabon. Neither

my country nor the Central African Republic, hosts to a large number of refugees, are set up to welcome these brothers and sisters,'' Reuters news agency quoted host President, Omar Bongo of Gabon, as saying.

In a final communique from Libreville, the Congo Republic, DRC, Gabon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe also attacked "the attitude of the international community which marginalises Africa in general, and Central Africa in particular, by not taking sufficient account of the continent's humanitarian problems.''

AFRICA: FAO report says nearly 10 million people need emergency food aid

Nearly 10 million people in sub-Saharan Africa need emergency food assistance, according to a report released on Monday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In Somalia alone, "one million people are facing serious food shortages, with over 400,000 at risk of starvation."

The report, Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa, says the food outlook in Somalia for 1999 and beyond is "extremely grim, due to the cumulative effects of adverse weather, the long running civil war and uncontrolled crop pests and diseases." The current main season cereal crop has failed due to erratic and insufficient rainfall, armyworm outbreaks and unusually high temperatures. It is the seventh consecutive poor harvest since 1996, says the report.

(for more details and breakdown by country, see

Nairobi, 9 August 1999 15:30 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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