IRIN-CEA Update No. 751 [19990906]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 751 [19990906]

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. 751 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 6 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Troop movements in Kisangani

Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers have started to leave the rebel-held town of Kisangani in Province Orientale, news agencies said on Friday. Reuters said the two armies had largely withdrawn from the town, with Ugandan troops quitting the textile factory that had been their base outside Kisangani. Sources in contact with Kisangani told IRIN that over 1,000 Rwandan soldiers had been seen leaving the town since Thursday, heading southeast by road, while Ugandan army vehicles were heading to the northeast towards Bafwasende.

News agencies on Saturday quoted Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi as confirming that Ugandan troops had started withdrawing from Kisangani, but he said they would be "redeployed" elsewhere in the DRC. "There was a clash in Kisangani last month, and we agreed that all forces should be withdrawn from the city in order to avoid [future] clashes," he said.

RCD factions join Lusaka truce committees

The Joint Military Committee (JMC) and an associated political group created under the ceasefire accord met on Thursday and Friday in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to discuss implementation of the peace plan, news agencies reported. The meetings were attended by representatives of all parties involved in the conflict, including the two rival factions of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), they said.

RCD-Kisangani leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba told AFP on Friday that two representatives from his group and two from the RCD-Goma faction had attended the meeting. The political committee meeting, chaired by Uganda's Mbabazi, "welcomed the appointment of [Algerian] General Rashid Lallali, who was officially installed as chairman" of the JMC, news agencies quoted a committee statement as saying.

Rebel soldiers causing insecurity in Uvira

Rebel-controlled radio in Uvira said on Saturday that insecurity was increasing in the town because of lack of "harmony" among elements of the rebel army. Drunken soldiers had exchanged fire in Uvira last week, fears of possible army looting had led some town residents to spent the night across the border in Burundi, and more gunfire was heard in the town from Friday night to Saturday morning, the radio said.

Kabila reshuffles military

Kabila has appointed new leaders for the military and has named his son as army chief, news agencies said. A presidential decree read on Congolese state television on Friday said that Lieutenant-General Sylvestre Lwesha was now the chief of defence staff and head of the armed forces, replacing Faustin Munene. Kabila's son, Major-General Joseph Kabila, who was previously Munene's deputy, has been appointed chief of land forces, the television said. Munene has become chief of the country's small air force. Kabila, who remains the armed forces commander-in-chief, also appointed commanders for the country's eight "military regions" created by an earlier presidential decree.

Accord revives national dialogue plans

A facilitator for the proposed inter-Congolese national debate said on Saturday that preparations for the debate will move forward now that the Lusaka agreement has been signed by all warring parties, Reuters reported. The facilitator, former president of Benin, Emile Derlin Zinsou, told Reuters at the Francophonie summit in Canada that all parties had agreed to attend the round-table talks some time ago but that everything had been put on hold until the ceasefire accord. "In the coming days we will be contacting the groups by phone," Zinsou said.

The agenda, participation and venue for the talks still had to be worked out. "Some hope it will be Rome, some want Nairobi. I'll go wherever they agree to," Zinsou was quoted as saying. The other facilitator is Padre Matteo Zuppi of the Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio Community. Under the Lusaka accord, all-inclusive inter-Congolese negotiations on the political future of the DRC are to begin 45 days after the signing of the agreement.

Rights groups call for release of prisoners

The Human Rights Watch Academic Freedom Committee, in an open letter to President Laurent-Desire Kabila, has expressed its "grave concern" over the arrest and continued detention of University of Lubumbashi sociolinguistics Professor Kambaj wa Kambaji. A statement received by IRIN on Monday called for the immediate release of Kambaji, whose arrest on 29 July "appears to be directly related to the government's seizure from his home of student essays criticising the use of ethnic hate-speech in political discourse in Katanga." The arrest represented a "step in the wrong direction" for any long-term resolution of the region's conflicts, Jonathan Fanton, co-chair of the Committee, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Friday called for the release of "prisoner of conscience" Laurent Kantu Lumpungu, president of the Association des cadres penitentiares, who has been held without charge since 29 May. A statement received by IRIN said Amnesty delegates, during their recent visit to Kinshasa, had been informed that Lumpungu's case would be referred to the Military Order Court, which offers no recourse for appeal and was "gradually eroding standard civilian and military jurisdiction."

BURUNDI: Rebels kill 15 near capital

Fifteen people were killed on Friday when rebels ambushed a vehicle in Rumonge, 25 km south of Bujumbura, Burundi radio reported. The victims were aboard a vehicle belonging to the national water and power supply company, Regideso, and were returning from a working mission to the Mugere river dam, it said. The incident took place a week after some 58 people were killed in rebel attacks in Bujumbura.

RWANDA: Former health minister pleads not guilty

Former Rwandan health minister Casmir Bizimungu on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity when he made his initial appearance at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, an ICTR statement received by IRIN said. As health minister in the 1994 interim government, Bizimungu is alleged to have failed to "take any steps" to prevent massacres committed in a public hospital - the Centre Hospitalier de Kigali - for which he was responsible. The prosecution said that when the massacres started in Kigali, the hospital had taken in many wounded Tutsis from various areas in the city. "On several occasions soldiers who were supposed to be guarding the hospital selected Tutsi patients and killed them on the spot", the statement said. It is alleged that these massacres were reported to Bizimungu who "did nothing."

UGANDA: Rebels raid DRC villages

An estimated 50 rebels of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) last week raided Murumba mountain villages in eastern DRC and abducted several people, Uganda's semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Saturday. It quoted villagers as saying there were no deaths from the raids and those abducted were later released after helping the rebels to carry their stolen goods to the mountains.

Police shortage encourages crime

Uganda's Annual Crime Report released on Saturday revealed that crime in the country has been increasing by an average of 9.5 percent a year during the past eight years, news agencies said. The report said murder cases had risen from 950 in 1991 to 1,877 last year, according to AFP. The report said a shortage of personnel was hampering police crime-fighting efforts "with the workload on individual detectives standing at 24 cases per year."

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: "End of crisis" nearing in Pool, minister says

The security situation in the Pool region has improved over the past 2-3 months but "vigilance" was still required, Interior Minister Pierre Oba said last week. Congolese radio quoted Oba as saying that while the problems in Pool were not over, "what we are now managing is a sort of end of a crisis, which is usually a delicate period." Oba added that the reaction on the part of "young people" to the government's recent amnesty offer to those who took up arms was "already quite good," the radio said.

Nairobi, 6 September 1999, 15:30 gmt


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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