UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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 Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: email@example.com
IRIN-CEA Update No. 745 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 27 August 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ceasefire signing anticipated
The public is reported to be eagerly but cautiously awaiting the signing of the Lusaka peace accord by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), incorporating both Goma and Kisangani factions led by Emile Ilunga and Ernest Wamba dia Wamba respectively, which is scheduled to take place in Lusaka on 31 August, according to IRIN sources. Meanwhile, the government and RCD have been trading accusations that the other has broken the ceasefire by launching offensives in Kasai and Kasinda.
"[DRC President Laurent-Desire] Kabila is attacking our forces because he wants to stop the peace process but the attacks change nothing, we shall sign even so", Reuters news agency quoted Moise Nyarugabo, vice-president of the RCD-Goma faction as saying. The southern African forces backing Kabila countered the charge, saying it was the rebels who had launched armed attacks and were on a massive recruitment drive, it added.
Refugees seek repatriation from Rwanda
More than 31,000 Congolese refugees living in Gihembe camp, northeastern Byumba, and in western Kibuye prefectures, Rwanda, have sought repatriation to their country, UNHCR in Kigali told IRIN on Thursday. The refugees expressed their wish during the three-day visit to the country of UNHCR's Director for Africa, Albert Alain Peters, this week. He responded to the request by saying it would be the "best solution, when the situation permits." Alain Peters said UNHCR was keenly following the peace process in the DRC because "for us it has a direct consequence in the sense that it will enable us facilitate the repatriation of the refugees," an agency official quoted him as saying. He reiterated UNHCR's concern about the security of the refugees upon their return.
Watchdog body calls for release of journalists
Two journalists were arrested by members of the Agence nationale de renseignements (ANR) security service on Tuesday, an alert by the watchdog International Freedom of Expression (IFEX) reported on Thursday. The whereabouts or reason for the arrest of the two, 'Bloc Notes' publisher Mwamba wa ba Mulamba and Achille Kadima Mulamba, publisher of the weekly 'Vertas', were not known, it added. In a letter to Internal Affairs Minister Gaetan Kakudji, Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) wondered whether Mulamba was held because of his professional activities or because he was secretary-general of the press freedom organisation Journaliste en danger, and it demanded the immediate release of both men.
RWANDA: Government denies Ugandans being harassed
Both the Rwandan government and the Ugandan embassy in Kigali have denied what they call "false reports" that Ugandan nationals living in the Rwandan capital have been harassed and intimidated in the wake of the clash between the two countries' armies in Kisangani last week. Secretary-general in the Rwandan Ministry of Internal Affairs Seth Kamazi said the allegations, reported in the Ugandan 'Monitor' newspaper, were "baseless and only intended to tarnish the good relationship between the two states", Rwandan Radio reported on Thursday. "Ugandans in all sectors are happily going on with their day-to-day work in harmony with their Rwandan neighbours", it also quoted an official in the Ugandan embassy as saying. The 'Monitor' had reported that Ugandans in Rwanda were living in fear and had stopped speaking the Lugandan language after the Kisangani fighting.
Twenty sentenced for genocide
Gikongoro Criminal Court has sentenced eight people to life imprisonment and 12 more to 10-year sentences for their involvement in the 1994 genocide, Radio Rwanda reported on Thursday. Two others in the joint trial of 22 people were acquitted and released. The group were alleged to have been involved in hunting down and massacring ethnic Tutsis in Kibanga sector, Musange commune, Rwandan radio reported, adding that the convicted have been ordered to pay compensation amounting to US $475,000 to the victims' families.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Concern over potential for violence in post-election period
Renewed civil unrest cannot be ruled out in a potential volatile period after the upcoming presidential elections, UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji said this week. "It is a concern ... It's the reaction of those who don't win [the elections] that really counts. If those who lose decide to foment trouble, it can be quite serious," Adeniji told IRIN. Ten people - incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse, six opposition leaders and three independent candidates - are running in the 12 September election, the first since a series of destructive army mutinies in 1996-97 plunged the country into a crisis from which it is still struggling to recover. A second round of voting, if one is required, is scheduled for 3 October. The mandate of MINURCA, the UN peace-keeping mission sent to the CAR in April 1998 to help safeguard a fragile peace, expires on 15 November.
[For additional information, see separate item on 27 August headlined: "Big question mark" for post-election period" - IRIN-CEA: 19990827 ]
UGANDA: Netherlands threatens to cut aid over defence spending
The Dutch government has threatened to stop financial assistance to Uganda if it does not cut defence expenditure, Dutch Minister for Development and Cooperation Evelien Herfkens said on Thursday. "We have signed an agreement with the government to provide aid on condition that the military expenditure is reduced. If the government fails her obligations, we shall all be in trouble. It would be difficult for me to convince the Netherlands parliament to aid Uganda. We shall stop aid," news agencies quoted Herfkens as saying. The Dutch government has recently approved US $38 million in aid for Uganda.
Herfkens, who attacked the National Resistance Movement government for extending its transitional period and gagging political parties by advocating a referendum on multi-party politics that was devoid of fairness, said the Dutch government and the IMF had asked Uganda to check corruption and reduce rural poverty in the countryside. She also said Netherlands would lobby the EU to stop military aid to developing countries to bring peace in Africa.
Opposition urges withdrawal from DRC
Meanwhile, opposition political leaders have condemned Uganda's presence in DRC and urged a troop withdrawal following a statement by President Yoweri Museveni on last week's clashes between Ugandan and Rwandan forces in Kisangani. "Let it be known by all Ugandans that the people of Uganda and Rwanda have never supported their leaders' involvement in Congo," a release signed by leaders of the Democratic Party, Uganda People's Congress, the Free Movement, Conservative Party, Justice Forum and National Democrats Forum stated. "Uganda should pull out of Congo and let the Congolese resolve their internal problems. The RPA (Rwandese Patriotic Army) must also pull out. Let both countries ensure that their borders are secured", the statement, reported by the 'New Vision' newspaper on Friday, said.
Party leaders said Ugandans and Rwandans had never given their leaders a mandate to become involved in Congo, but that a small clique appeared to want, and benefit from, the Congo war or wish to establish some narrow ethnic hegemony in the Great Lakes. "Isn't this (Kisangani) proof that there is no rebellion by the Congolese against Kabila but rather an invasion of that country by Uganda and Rwanda who now 'want to mobilise' a rebellion?" they said.
KENYA: Journalist's contempt conviction regretted by media watchdog
Kenyan journalist Anthony Gachoka was recently sentenced to six months imprisonment without the option of a fine for "contempt of court" - a sentence described as "far the heaviest for such an offence in the country's history." His company, 'The Post Limited', was fined Kshs 1 million (US $13,500) and ordered to cease publication of the 'Post on Sunday' or any other title until the "fine is paid." Kenya's media watchdog the 'Media Institute' - voicing its concern through the International Freedom of Expression (IFEX) action alert network - regretted the conviction and sentence, saying Gachoka "did not have the opportunity to adduce oral evidence for his publications, whether true or false, which he sought, but was barred by procedural technicalities, leaving the grave allegations unproven and disproved at the end of the trial."
Gachoka had claimed in editions of his publication in January and February that the chief justice had been bribed with US $450,000 to influence judgement in numerous cases before the courts relating to Kenya's Goldenberg scandal case which led western donors to withhold balance of payments support and ESAF funds to the country in 1993.
AFRICA: Aid agency champions protection of civilians
The international relief agency Action Against Hunger (AAH)-USA recently joined a coalition of over 150 American NGOs operating abroad in a campaign to support victims of African crises and it called on US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to put in as much effort to support peace processes and sustain victims of conflict in Africa as it is in Kosovo. A statement from AAH, received by IRIN, said it had asked the two to propose to the US Congress "funding levels sufficient to give strong support" to peace processes in Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, the DRC and Ethiopia/Eritrea. It also proposed higher levels of US assistance for African victims of continuing conflict and the maintenance - or increase - of aid levels for African countries emerging from conflict or still wracked by violence. AAH said it was "extremely concerned" about the fate of civilian populations whose rights to food, health and protection were "constantly violated by warring factions".
Nairobi, 27 August 1999, 14:30 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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