IRIN-CEA Update No. 752 [19990907]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 752 [19990907]

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. 752 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 7 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels oppose "Mayi-Mayi" appointments

The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has harshly criticised Kinshasa's appointment of Lieutenant-General Sylvestre Lwecha as the new armed forces chief of staff, saying he is a Mayi-Mayi tribal militia leader who had to be disarmed, news agencies reported on Monday. The head of RCD-Goma's security department, Bizima Karaha, told the Associated Press (AP) that a letter voicing the objection had been sent to the Joint Military Commission (JMC) overseeing the Lusaka ceasefire accord.

If Lwesha were not removed from the post, "We will carry on and disarm him," Karaha said. The group charged that newly-appointed navy commander Shabani Sikatende was also a Mayi-Mayi. Another RCD official told Rwanda News Agency that last Friday's appointment of Lwesha and Sikatende by President Laurent-Desire Kabila was an attempt to "legitimate them as heads of the armed forces so that the Joint Military Commission does not consider them to be part of renegade forces to be tracked down and neutralized" under the Lusaka accord.

New RCD reconciliation initiative

Leaders of the two rival RCD factions were on Tuesday "ready" to meet together in South Africa to try and resolve their differences, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported. RCD-Goma head Emile Ilunga and RCD-Kisangani leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba were in Pretoria with their senior officials at the invitation of South African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss areas of disagreement, including representation on the JMC, news agencies said. Mbeki had held talks with Ilunga on Friday and with Wamba dia Wamba on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the RCD-Goma faction has designated Karaha and the group's head of external relations, Alexis Thambwe, to represent it in the ministerial-level political committee set up by the Lusaka agreement to help implement the ceasefire, the rebel-controlled news agency NACP said.

"Bitter animosity" between Ugandan, Rwandan troops

Last month's "defeat" of the Ugandan army (UPDF) by Rwandan forces (RPA) in Kisangani has affected the position of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's government, and armed opposition to the Museveni regime is likely to increase now that the army appears vulnerable, an analysis of the clash by Oxford Analytica said on Monday. There was also "bitter animosity" between the UPDF and the RPA, and hostilities between the two countries on DRC soil posed a threat to the Lusaka peace accord, it said. The desire for strategic control of resources, including the clandestine diamond and timber trade, had driven the fighting for control of Kisangani because its resources helped both Uganda and Rwanda finance their military operations in the DRC, Oxford Analytica said. The Kisangani clash could mark the beginning of a Rwandan offensive to drive Ugandan forces from eastern DRC, it added.

Meanwhile, sources in Kisangani told IRIN that the population remained fearful of potential renewed clashes between the Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers, in spite of the recent troop movements out of the town.

BURUNDI: Three rebels killed in Bujumbura clash

Burundian security forces killed three rebels during a "heavy exchange" of gunfire in northern Bujumbura on Sunday evening, Burundi radio reported. The assailants were reportedly trying to infiltrate the areas of Mutanga Nord, Gihosha and Mugoboka when security officials launched a counter-offensive. Over 70 people have been reported killed as a result of rebel attacks on Bujumbura suburbs last week and an ambush on a vehicle near the capital on Saturday.

Buyoya cancels visit to Libya

Meanwhile, President Pierre Buyoya on Monday cancelled his trip to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) extraordinary summit in Libya, citing a "busy internal schedule," news agencies reported. "His calender inside the country is very overloaded," AP quoted his spokesman, Appollinaire Gahungu, as saying.

80,000 displaced in Bujumbura Rural

The total number of displaced persons in Bujumbura Rural is now estimated to be 80,000, the latest OCHA-Burundi monthly report said. The report, received by IRIN on Tuesday, said a recent mission to Mutambu commune had found that food and non-food needs among up to 10,000 recently-displaced people at the Karinzi site were "not alarming", but relief assistance for children and other vulnerable groups was deemed necessary.

One million to benefit from FAO seeds

Meanwhile, FAO in collaboration with partner NGOs has begun compiling beneficiary lists for the upcoming distribution of agricultural materials for the 2000-A season. About one million people will be assisted countrywide though the distribution of 4,000 mt of bean and vegetable seeds, the OCHA report said. Priority will be given to those who have access to land, returnees and displaced persons, drought-affected farmers and Batwa people who were recently allocated land, it said. WFP will complement this effort by providing 15-day food rations to the beneficiaries, the report added.

TANZANIA: Preliminary figures show reduction in refugee population

Preliminary figures from the annual refugee re-registration and verification exercise recently conducted in Kigoma show a reduction in the refugee population in the Lugufu, Kibondo and Kasulu camps, WFP said in its latest weekly emergency report. "An overall reduction of 14 percent was reported for the region," the report said. As a result of the substantial reductions, "a full WFP food basket is ensured" for the next distribution. Meanwhile, WFP is currently pre-positioning food stocks in the Kigoma area due to the onset of the rainy season, which could soon make roads impassable.

NILE BASIN COUNTRIES: Secretariat for cooperation initiative set up

The headquarters for an initiative to alleviate poverty through the proper use of the River Nile waters among eight Nile Basin countries was "launched" on Friday in Entebbe, Uganda, the 'New Vision' newspaper said on Monday. The members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) include the DRC, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt. Ugandan Minister of Water Resources Henry Kajura said at the headquarters launching ceremony that NBI members were among the poorest countries in the world and should cooperate to enhance development. The NBI is financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the World Bank, Italy, FAO and UNDP, the newspaper said.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Opposition unhappy with election organisation

Candidates challenging incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse in the 12 September elections have issued a joint complaint about the "hasty organisation" of the polls, news agencies said on Monday. "The disregard of the normal arrangements could make it impossible to hold transparent and credible elections, allowing [Patasse] to impose his re-election in a fraudulent matter," the nine candidates said in a statement quoted by AFP. The statement cited "irregularities" by the electoral commission, including the late distribution of voting cards and electoral lists. A second round of voting is scheduled for 3 October.

Nairobi, 7 September 1999, 15:30 gmt


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

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