IRIN-CEA Update No. 734 for 12 Aug (fwd) [19990812]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 734 for 12 Aug (fwd) [19990812]

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. 734 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 12 August 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Zuma completes Kisangani trip

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma left Kisangani on Wednesday after holding "fruitful discussions" with the leaders of rival factions of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), a foreign ministry spokesman told IRIN on Thursday. The spokesman said Zuma had gone to Kisangani "in a supporting role" to Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, who has been mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to spearhead DRC peace efforts. The spokesman said the minister, who was accompanied by Zambian Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Silwamba, had been "warmly received" and that she was preparing a report on her mission. It would be up to Chiluba, however, to announce any outcome of her peace mission.

Rebels reiterate divergent positions

The rebel's Ugandan-backed Kisangani-based faction, led by ousted RCD president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba - who maintains he remains the movement's legitimate leader - is prepared to have "other factions" sign the ceasefire agreement "in the interest of peace." An RCD-Kisangani statement received by IRIN on Thursday said the group had appealed to Zuma and Silwamba to allow both the Goma and Kisangani factions to sign the accord, endorsed in Lusaka on 10 July by the six countries involved in the DRC conflict. To respond to the Rwandan-backed Goma faction's allegations that RCD-Kisangani was "non-existent," the two visiting ministers were "shown concretely on the map, where our positions are located," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the RCD-Goma group has rejected the idea of having more than one RCD signatory on the ceasefire agreement, Radio Bukavu said on Thursday. It quoted an RCD-Goma statement as saying "why should the RCD sign jointly with an individual who, no longer having a mandate from the movement, represents only himself?".

Deployment of UN military personnel to start

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to start sending UN military personnel to the region, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday. The first group was expected to arrive within the next couple of weeks in Kinshasa and the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to be followed soon after by personnel heading to the capitals of other countries in the region, the spokesman said. Under a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council last week, up to 90 UN military liaison personnel are to be sent to the capitals of the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe to assist in implementing the ceasefire accord. In Lusaka, the UN personnel would be deployed to the provisional headquarters of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), created by the peace agreement to disarm the fighters and verify the ceasefire, the statement added.

Kisangani tension hinders campaign preparations

The impact of recent unrest in Kisangani and the associated reduced availability of aircraft have hindered logistical preparations for the polio vaccination campaign in some areas, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. Tension between military forces in Kisangani remained high following last weekend's clashes, some aircraft had been requisitioned, and permission to fly in the required vaccines and other immunisation supplies to Kisangani and several other rebel-held locations in Province Orientale and Maniema had not yet been granted by the authorities, the sources said. The national campaign, scheduled to start this weekend, aims to vaccinate some 10 million children as part of global polio eradication efforts.

Meanwhile, a UNICEF spokesman told IRIN on Thursday that the campaign would go ahead as planned in spite of the huge logistical challenges. "The supplies and equipment are in place in the great majority of the country. There are a few areas where vaccines and equipment still need to be flown in, or delivered by boat in some cases, and that process is on-going," the spokesman said.

RWANDA: Human rights seminar marks anniversary of Geneva Conventions

A sub-regional seminar on humanitarian law and human rights in situations of armed conflict, which opened in Butare on Wednesday, was set to finish on Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. The topics addressed at the seminar, jointly sponsored by the Rwandan National University and the ICRC, included the origin and evolution of humanitarian rights, the origin and role of the Rwandan Red Cross, international humanitarian law, Rwandan national law, women and child victims of humanitarian violations and the responsibility of military officers in armed conflicts, the Rwanda News Agency reported.

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC on Thursday called on the world to reject the idea that war is inevitable and to work tirelessly to eradicate its underlying causes. It also demanded of all those involved in armed conflicts or in a position to influence the course of such conflicts that they respect the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.

Security Council formally appoints new ICTR prosecutor

The UN Security Council on Wednesday formally accepted the resignation of Louise Arbour, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, and unanimously approved the appointment of Carla Del Ponte, currently Attorney-General of Switzerland as her replacement. Both Arbour's resignation and Del Ponte's appointment will be effective on 15 September, a UN press release stated.

Accused to appeal extradition order to US Supreme Court

Meanwhile, the defence lawyer of genocide suspect Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who an American appeals court ruled on 5 August should be extradited to stand trial at the ICTR, has said he plans to take the case to the US Supreme Court. Ntakirutimana's defence counsel, Ramsey Clark, told the independent Hirondelle news agency his client would surrender to the ICTR "if it's the last word of the law" but that it was planned to file a stay of execution on any transfer to Arusha until his case has had a chance to be heard at the US Supreme Court. If it agrees to review the case, that could take another year.

Mother and son plead not guilty to additional charges

Former Rwandan Minister for Family Welfare Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her son on Thursday pleaded not guilty before the ICTR to new genocide and rape charges. On Tuesday, the court granted a prosecutor's request to amend their joint indictment, bringing the number of charges from seven to eleven, Hirondelle reported on Thursday. The new counts include conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and rape. Nyiramasuhuko, who is the first woman to be charged with rape as a war crime and crime against humanity, stands accused of encouraging rape as part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilians on "political, ethnic and racial grounds", the agency added.

Efforts to establish multiple trials continue

The ICTR has also pushed ahead with procedures to join two other groups of accused, known as the 'military group' and the 'Cyangugu group', for multiple trials, Internews agency reported on Wednesday. The so-called military group comprises four accused - including the former top adviser to the Rwandan Defence Ministry, Theoneste Bagosora -, while the 'Cyangugu group' includes former Minister of Transport and Communications Andre Ntagerura, former prefect of Cyangugu Emmanuel Bagambiki and former military commander Samuel Imanishimwe.

BURUNDI-TANZANIA: Ministers meet on improving border security

Burundian and Tanzanian military chiefs on Wednesday and Thursday held talks in Kigoma, western Tanzania, about border security between the two countries in which discussion was focused on the causes of general insecurity as well as particular incidents. Defence officials held "tough negotiations" throughout Tuesday before Tanzanian Minister of Defence and National Service Edgar Maokola Majogo and Burundian National Defence Minister Alfred Nkurunziza arrived on Wednesday to continue the process, media sources reported. Burundi initially felt the Tanzanian delegation failed to accept its concerns - particularly about alleged recruitment of refugees into rebel groups it claims are operating from Tanzania - but matters progressed later with the formulation of proposals to improve cooperation on border security and prevent the recurrence of troublesome incidents, Burundi radio reported.

UGANDA: Government alerted to drought-related problems

Prolonged drought in the west of the country has destroyed large stretches of crops, seriously limited pasture and exposed residents to problems of food security, according to politicians from the region speaking in the Ugandan parliament. Dairy production and food harvests were significantly down, as was coffee production - a significant cash crop for farmers and source of foreign exchange for Uganda - Ugandan radio reported on Wednesday. Several members of parliament for the western region have called on the government to take measures to ensure food security and the safety of drinking water for people in the region, it added.

Rebels kill six in west

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Tuesday attacked a village in western Uganda and killed a family of six, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported on Wednesday. The rebels, who were reportedly looking for food, entered the family's home in Mugusu village, Kabarole district, and killed a man, his wife, mother-in-law, two children and another relative, the paper said.

KENYA: Border with Somalia reopened

Kenya has reopened its border with Somalia, news agencies reported. Local press quoted Kenya's northeastern Provincial Commissioner Maurice Makhanu as saying calm had been restored in the area. The border was closed last month after a group of Somali militia overran a military camp on the Kenyan side and stole guns and other equipment, which they later returned.

Nairobi, 12 August 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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