IRIN-CEA Update No. 753 [19990908]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 753 [19990908]

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. 753 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 8 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels trying to recruit Mayi-Mayi

The rebel Armee nationale congolaise (ANC) has launched a sensitisation campaign aimed at encouraging Mayi-Mayi fighters to leave the bush and undergo political and military training, rebel-controlled Radio Uvira reported on Tuesday. Commander Bwino Mwenseku, who heads the ANC's Ninth Brigade, said his forces were ready to work with the Mayi-Mayi. "They will take part in creating security in our territory," he said. Describing the Mayi-Mayi as "lost sheep", he added that the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) was "ready to take them in" after they had undergone training.

Rebel factions fail to agree on representation

RCD rebel factions, meeting in South Africa, on Tuesday failed to agree on representation in the Joint Military Commission, set up to oversee the Lusaka peace accord. News organisations quoted South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad as saying "differences" remained between the two groups. Emile Ilunga, who heads the RCD-Goma faction, stressed the two sides "agree on nothing at the moment", SAPA news agency reported. He said his side was committed to respecting the text of the ceasefire, but was worried President Laurent-Desire Kabila might use the accord to "reinforce himself". Ilunga claimed the government side had already violated the ceasefire in the Kisangani area. No further talks were planned with the faction of Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, and Ilunga's side intended to return to Goma on Wednesday, he added.

Support for Lusaka process crucial - US peace institute

The international community must provide robust support for implementation of the Lusaka agreement, which provides a "last exit on the region's highway to hell", a new report from the United States Institute of Peace said. The report said the ceasefire document - the result of an African-led peace process - addressed most of the fundamental issues fuelling the conflict, including the presence of ex-FAR/Interahamwe and other DRC-based armed groups destabilising neighbouring countries. The agreement "legitimises and internationalises the pursuit of these genocidaires and other nonstate actors" that are the primary source of instability in central Africa, the report said. It is the estimated 10,000-30,000 ex-FAR/Interahamwe, rearmed by the Congolese and Zimbabwean governments, that have benefited the most from the conflict, it added.

Report authors John Prendergast and David Smock said that lending full support to the accord provides the international community with "a major opportunity for a belated assumption of its responsibilities" to help counter the continuing threat of genocide and regional instability. Donors must be prepared to allocate or shift resources to support the agreement, a package of transparent pressures and incentives should be constructed multilaterally, funds should be provided for related humanitarian, development and reintegration initiatives, and consideration should be given to creating the International Coalition Against Genocide (ICAG) envisioned by the 1998 Entebbe Summit.

International support was also needed for the operation of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), responsible under the Lusaka accord for identifying and disarming the militias. As that disarmament was crucial for peace consolidation, the United States should sponsor the eventual UN Security Council resolution that would give the JMC the appropriate enforcement authority, the report concluded.

"Boiling cauldron" in Kivus not addressed

The report, however, warned that the Lusaka agreement failed to adequately deal with complex issues specific to eastern Congo, including the manipulation of ethnic differences, land rights and the question of citizen status for Congolese Tutsis. A more coherent strategy for addressing the "boiling cauldron" in the Kivus was needed. If issues for which the ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge forces were fighting were not addressed in the resolution of the conflict, "a third war could erupt some time in the not-too-distant future," it said. [The full report and Lusaka ceasefire agreement are available at]

Haemorrhagic fever test results pending

Results of laboratory tests to check for the presence of haemorrhagic fever viruses in Isiro, Province Orientale, are expected later this week or early next week, a WHO official told IRIN on Tuesday. Samples collected from Isiro were sent to South Africa for testing last week after one man in the town died of suspected haemorrhagic fever on 29 August. Humanitarian sources have said six other suspected cases with four deaths were reported in nearby Durba during August. From late 1998 to May, a haemorrhagic fever outbreak in the same area, apparently caused by the Marburg virus, affected about 90 people. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources have said one additional suspected case was reported between 12-18 July some 40 km from Durba.

UGANDA: MPs demand investigation into army activities

A number of Ugandan MPs have signed a new motion demanding an investigation into the army's activities in DRC, in light of last month's clashes with the Rwandan army in Kisangani, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported on Tuesday. They claimed that President Yoweri Museveni, in an address to parliament on 30 August, did not touch on "essential issues" and demanded accountability of the defence budget. According to the 'Monitor', Museveni had told parliament a total of 38 Ugandan soldiers were killed in the clashes, while the semi-official 'New Vision' said he reportedly accused Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame of "playing tricks". Kagame, for his part, told the Rwandan National Assembly last week both leaders regretted that not enough action was taken in time to prevent the clashes, the 'Monitor' reported.

Sudanese MPs "shocked" by child abductions

Two Sudanese MPs have concluded a five-day visit to Uganda in which they talked to victims of abductions by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The two - Chairman of the Committee of Human Rights and Public Duties Siraj al-Din Hamid Yusif and his deputy Ambrose Adi - were "physically shocked" at what they saw and heard, UNICEF's Programme Coordinator and Advisor on Advocacy Keith Wright told IRIN on Wednesday. "At the end of the visit, they were convinced that the humanitarian aspect of the insurgency should be separated from the political aspect," he said. The two announced they would return soon, probably accompanied by more MPs, to ascertain the situation.

According to Wright, UNICEF has been involved in a three-year programme to facilitate a resolution to the issue of child abduction. UNICEF-Sudan has been in dialogue with the Khartoum government over a long period which culminated in the two travelling to assess the situation and report back to their parliament. "UNICEF has welcomed this opportunity because it is the biggest breakthrough so far. We are very hopeful that something good will come out of this, but we have to wait," Wright said. The number of registered missing people stands at 4,802, but it is not certain how many of them are alive.

RWANDA: Water shortage in northeast

Northeastern areas of Rwanda are suffering from water shortages, particularly the Umutara prefecture, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The area is arid and Umutara is suffering from the effects of drought caused by a prolonged dry season, the director of water resources, Bruno Mwanafunzi, told RNA. The Akagera national park which falls within the prefecture has been massively settled since 1994 by old-caseload returnees who fled Rwanda in the 1960s. Mwanafunzi said the Rwandan government, along with a number of NGOs, is planning to provide over US $11 million to supply water to the northeastern prefectures.

Rwandan journalist arrested

Another Rwandan woman journalist has been arrested for alleged incitement to genocide, RNA reported. It quoted the Kigali prosecutor's office as saying Helena Nyirabikali was arrested at her home in the Rwandan capital accused of "inciting ethnic hatred in turning Hutus against Tutsis". She had been working for the state-owned local Kinyarwanda newspaper 'Imvaho' for over 15 years. Her arrest follows that of Valerie Bemeriki, who was detained in South Kivu in July accused of broadcasting inflammatory reports over the hate radio station, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM).

BURUNDI: Major road closed as violence continues

Violence continued in Burundi, with reports of attacks by PALIPEHUTU rebels in Bujumbura Rural and the Musaga area of southern Bujumbura. According to the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP), two people were killed at Kabezi in Bujumbura Rural over the weekend, while fighting between the rebels and the army was reported in Musaga. AFP cited military sources as saying the main road between Bujumbura and Bugarama to the north had been closed to allow operations against the rebels to proceed.

Meanwhile, according to AFP, President Pierre Buyoya left for the OAU summit in Libya on Wednesday. Earlier reports said he would not go due to a heavy workload.

Burundian wins UN award for poverty alleviation

Athanase Rwamo, a former Burundian interior ministry official, is to receive a UNDP award for his role in promoting the fight against poverty. He is among six winners to receive the "Race against Poverty" award, due to be presented by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York on Wednesday, a UNDP press release said. The event will also feature the launch of NetAid, a global website aimed at raising public awareness and support for the fight against poverty.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Militiamen killed in Pool fighting

Government troops killed several dozen Ninja militiamen, loyal to ousted premier Bernard Kolelas, in clashes near Brazzaville over the weekend, AFP reported. The fighting took place some 20 km from the capital in the Pool region, according to a military source, cited by the agency.

Nairobi, 8 September 1999, 14:40 gmt


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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