IRIN-CEA Update No. 754 [19990909]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 754 [19990909]

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. 754 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 9 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: No democratisation progress - Garreton

The use of the death penalty has resumed in government areas of the DRC, while rebel forces have continued to commit civilian massacres in the east, UN Human Rights Rapporteur Roberto Garreton told IRIN on Thursday. "Impunity reigns everywhere," Garreton said following his trip to the country from 27 August and 6 September. The level of persecution of journalists and human rights activists remains serious on both sides of the country, he said. In Kinshasa, Garreton discussed democratisation efforts, among other issues, with President Laurent-Desire Kabila. "I did not see any progress in the democratisation process. And when we don't advance in that area, that is a setback" for other areas like human rights, he said. [For more details, see separate item of 9 September headlined "No democratisation progress - Garreton" - IRIN-English item 1570]

UN military officers prepare for deployment

Twenty-one UN military liaison officers (MLOs) are in Nairobi to prepare for immediate deployment to the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC). According to a press release issued by the UN Regional Humanitarian Advisor's Office in Nairobi, they are to undergo a three-day induction course to acquaint them with the political, military, security, economic, cultural and humanitarian aspects of the MONUC mission. The press release said the move "represents the initial commitment of UN military personnel to support the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1258". The officers, the first of 90 to be deployed in the region, will be based in Kinshasa, Bujumbura, Kampala, Windhoek, Kigali, Harare and Lusaka. "Although small in number, these MLOs will contribute to confidence-building among the parties and represent the vanguard of further UN involvement," the release said. [Full press release distributed on IRIN website -]

Rebels claim new armed forces chief dead

Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)-Goma faction have challenged President Laurent-Desire Kabila to show the newly-appointed armed forces chief Lieutenant-General Sylvestre Lwecha, who they claim is dead. RCD information chief Lambert Mende told the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) Lwecha died nine days ago - before his appointment was announced - at Njonja in Itombwe, south of Bukavu. Mende was citing Mayi-Mayi fighters who had surrendered to the rebel forces and who had previously been led by Lwecha. RNA said that according to reports, Lwecha may have been shot dead during skirmishes in the hills of South Kivu.

Government denies violating ceasefire

The DRC government has denied rebel claims that it violated the ceasefire in the areas of Kole and Bokungu. However, news agencies quoted Lambert Mende as saying rebel troops were on "high alert" and the rebels themselves were "becoming more and more sceptical about the peace process".

Radio Maendeleo journalists freed in Bukavu

Two journalists working for Radio Maendeleo in Bukavu have been freed from the town's jail where they had been held since 30 August, according to a civil society group 'Heritiers de la justice'. The group said one of its members, Raphael Wakenge, was also released. Wakenge, along with the journalists, Kizito Mushizi and Kamengele Omba, cannot leave Bukavu and have to report to the authorities every Friday. The RCD authorities recently closed down Radio Maendeleo, a community development radio.

BURUNDI: Pre-Arusha consultations underway

Representatives of various parties are meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, ahead of the next round of Arusha peace talks scheduled for 13 September. Burundi's embassy in South Africa told IRIN members of the government, national assembly, FRODEBU, UPRONA, PARENA and CNDD were holding pre-talks consultations to explain their own political programmes. The sides are said to be focusing on the transitional period, the security issue and the army. According to Burundi radio, CNDD, PARENA and FRODEBU then split off to hold their own consultations. The Arusha peace process was due to resume on 6 September, but was put back until the 13th to allow for more internal consultations among parties to the conflict. In addition, the facilitator, Julius Nyerere is undergoing medical treatment abroad.

Authorities deny road closure

The Burundi authorities have denied a French media report claiming the main Bujumbura to Bugarama road was closed on Wednesday for security reasons, the private Netpress news agency reported. It said road traffic was continuing as normal.

Deficit in main agricultural season

An assessment mission by WFP, FAO and the Burundi government has established a drop of six percent in agricultural production during the main Impeshi season, compared to last year. In a press release, WFP said only 161,000 mt of cereals had been produced, while legume production fell by 22 percent. Several factors had contributed to this state of affairs - poor rainfall, plant diseases and insect attacks. WFP said the situation was worrying as produce from the Impeshi season usually accounts for half the harvests throughout the entire year.

RWANDA: Refugees return to assess situation

Sixty-two Rwandan refugees living in Tanzania on Wednesday returned home to assess the situation in the country and decide whether they would repatriate voluntarily, Rwandan radio reported. The move is part of an ongoing programme aimed at encouraging visits to Rwanda by refugees in Tanzania. Some 549 refugees have returned under the programme, the radio said.

UGANDA: ADF rebels kill five

At least five people have been killed by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in western Uganda, news organisations reported. The attack occurred on Monday in the village of Bunegeya, launched from ADF hideouts on the DRC border.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: MINURCA rejects opposition complaints

The UN Mission in CAR (MINURCA) has rejected accusations by opposition presidential candidates that it had a role in the organisational problems facing Sunday's election. A MINURCA statement, received by IRIN on Thursday, said delays in the transportation of election materials and distribution of electoral cards were caused by difficulties at the printers. Nineteen aircraft chartered by MINURCA in support of the election preparations have been ready to deliver the election items whenever required, the statement said. It quoted MINURCA spokesman Ismael Diallo as saying at a Bangui press conference on Wednesday that the opposition had representatives on the Commission electorale mixte et independante (CEMI) - the body responsible for the organisation of the elections - and the opposition was therefore partly responsible for CEMI's mistakes. The government has rejected opposition requests that the elections be postponed for a second time.

Planned withdrawal "a serious mistake"

Meanwhile, a regional analyst said that the UN would be making "a serious mistake" by withdrawing MINURCA's troops in mid-November as scheduled. "The UN seems to be focusing on the completion of democratic elections as its goal, but ... the completion of the elections is going to increase rather than decrease the probability of armed confrontation between rival groups within the country," the analyst told IRIN this week. "The task to complete is the reform of the military in the CAR, not the completion of elections." To prevent an outbreak of violence like the 1996-97 army mutinies, MINURCA troops need to remain until the CAR's own armed forces no longer "constitute a serious threat to the Central African people", he added.

Nairobi, 9 September 1999, 14:40 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1573

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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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