IRIN-CEA Update No. 749 [19990902]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 749 [19990902]

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:

IRIN-CEA Update No. 749 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 2 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: RCD split threatens Lusaka ceasefire even after signing

Zambian and South African diplomats were on Thursday reported to be involved in intensive discussions with rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) in an attempt to have the Lusaka ceasefire implemented in the face of renewed differences between the movement's rival factions. The Lusaka talks mediator, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, held meetings with RCD-Goma and RCD-Kisangani faction leaders still in the Zambian capital, two days after they signed the Lusaka accord, in an attempt to resolve the new sticking point over who should nominate representatives to the Joint Military Commission (JMC) and the Political Committee, set up to oversee the pact, Reuters reported.

Emile Ilunga, leader of the Rwandan-backed Goma faction, has reportedly said only he can nominate members to sit on the two bodies, while Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, who leads the Ugandan-supported Kisangani faction, has insisted he too must nominate representatives. The deadlock has prevented the two organs from starting their work, and "there will be no movement forward unless Rwanda and Uganda can be made to alter their positions," a western diplomat quoted by Reuters said.

Rwanda says troops "at a standstill" after RCD signing

The Rwandan government on Wednesday hailed the RCD signing of the ceasefire agreement, and reiterated its commitment to the Lusaka peace deal, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) said on Thursday. It quoted government spokesman Lt-Col Wilson Rutayisire as saying that Rwandan troops were now "at a standstill, and will remain in their positions until the UN peacekeeping force is deployed." Rutayisire added, however, that the "genocidal forces" of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe "should be disarmed and neutralised before any talk of pulling our troops out of Congo". Regional analysts believe the disarming of armed militia groups, including the Interahamwe and ex-FAR, could be the most difficult part of the accord to implement.

UN advance party to assemble military liaison team in Nairobi

In the wake of the RCD signing, the UN on Thursday dispatched a three-person advance team, due to arrive in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Friday, to pave the way for the deployment of the first phase of military personnel to be dispatched to the region. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations team is expected to assemble within a week the initial group of 26 UN military liaison officers. Four members of the team will support the JMC in Lusaka, while six members will set up an advance UN headquarters in Kinshasa, a UN statement said.

The remaining 16 will be dispatched to regional capitals of the signatories of the ceasefire accord, but initially to Bujumbura, Kigali, Kinshasa, Kampala, Windhoek and Harare. The dispatch of these officers is the first phase of a three-stage plan for UN support of the Lusaka peace accord outlined by Secretary General Kofi Annan in his 15 July report to the Security Council.

Congolese group says human rights neglected in Lusaka

David Banza, chairman of the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights, a Congolese group, said on Wednesday the RCD signing was a step in the right direction but he regretted that human rights had been neglected. "The accord did not take into account the aspects of war criminals, of those who committed crimes against mankind. And we say that the persistence of the culture of impunity cannot encourage lasting peace", Radio France Internationale quoted Banza as saying.

"People have committed atrocities and massacres, and today only because they have signed the accord, they can sit at the negotiations table without any fear at all ... We first of all want the war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against mankind to be taken to national or international tribunals depending on the offence. If this cannot be done, at least there must be a truth commission", Banza added.

Three Mobutu loyalists arrested

The International League for Human Rights (ILHR) on Wednesday said three officials of the former Mobutu government were arrested in Kinshasa on Tuesday. In a statement received by IRIN, the ILHR said the three - Kamitatu Masamba, Kikata Ngina and Luzanga Shamandevu - were arrested after they and 19 other Mobutu loyalists had signed a statement in which they demanded the "liberation of the political arena in accordance with the Lusaka Accords." The three were taken to a military facility in Kinshasa, the statement said.

Meanwhile, vice-president of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) Moise Nyarugabo on Wednesday denied allegations made by the local association ASADHO that some of its human rights activists had been arrested in Goma and Kisangani, rebel-controlled radio in Uvira said.

Rising malnutrition in Kalemie

A recent humanitarian assessment mission in Kalemie, Katanga province, found a worrying food security situation and a growing number of malnourished children. A report received by IRIN on Wednesday said that most supply routes to the town had been cut because of the war and only small amounts of food arriving from Moba were available, but at four times the pre-war prices. About 45-50 malnourished children were receiving therapeutic care per week, while over 300 were in supplementary feeding programmes.

The food security situation in Moba, traditionally the area's bread basket, was also reported to be poor as the war had disrupted agricultural activities over the past year, humanitarian sources said. About 200,000 people out of Moba's 400,000 residents had left the town, and many were still hiding in nearby forests, where they were surviving on whatever they could find in abandoned fields, the sources added.

BURUNDI: Curfew extended by two hours

The Burundian government on Wednesday announced that it was extending by two hours the nation-wide night curfew, following last weekend's rebel attacks that left more than 50 people dead, news agencies reported. The curfew will now start at 10:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 a.m. "Because the security situation has deteriorated in Bujumbura, the government has decided to move the curfew earlier to make the work of the security forces easier," Reuters quoted a ministerial statement as saying.

RWANDA: Inquiry team arrives to examine UN role during genocide

An independent inquiry commission to examine the UN's role and actions in Rwanda before and after the 1994 genocide arrived in Kigali on Wednesday on a fact-finding mission, humanitarian sources in the Rwandan capital told IRIN on Thursday. The commission, led by former Swedish Prime Minister, Ingvar Carlson, was set up in May by the UN Security Council at the suggestion of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and is to deliver a report by the end of the year.

TANZANIA: Mkapa appeals for refugee assistance

President Benjamin Mkapa on Wednesday appealed to the international community to provide assistance to refugees in Africa. Tanzanian radio quoted Mkapa as saying rich countries were not giving priority to the refugee problem in Africa. Mkapa, giving a talk on peace and reconciliation at Uppsala University in Sweden, said Africa was hosting seven million refugees, "a burden which it could not sustain." Tanzania is currently hosting some 393,000 refugees from Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Somalia.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: New peace bid

Eight former members of the ousted government of Pascal Lissouba presented President Denis Sassou-Nguesso with proposals for a five-year transition period under Nguesso's leadership, BBC reported on Wednesday. The transition plan, leading to the introduction of multi-party democracy, called for a meeting between the army and rebel forces to agree on a ceasefire. BBC quoted former finance minister Luc Adamou Mateta as saying Nguesso had promised to study the proposals.

Nairobi, 2 September 1999, 16:00 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1532

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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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