IRIN-CEA Update No. 756 [19990913]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 756 [19990913]

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. 756 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 13 September 1999)

BURUNDI: Peace talks resume in Arusha

Burundi peace talks resumed in the Tanzanian town of Arusha on Monday, Nyerere Foundation spokesman Hashim Mbita confirmed to IRIN. "The talks are on, all who are concerned and involved are here," he said. "The heads of delegation met in the morning and the various committees will start their sessions in the afternoon." He said the committees were at different stages; some were "about to finish" whereas others still had issues to address. "With negotiations anything can happen at anytime," he noted. Regarding the possible inclusion of the rebel CNDD-FDD group in the talks, he said procedural rules had to be met. "If all parties involved in the negotiations agree that they participate and they have fulfilled other procedural requirements, they will participate," Mbita said. He said the mediator of the talks, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, is still in the UK undergoing medical treatment.

Meanwhile, the rebel CNDD-FDD group has stressed that direct talks with the government will not take place inside Burundi. "The first stage, on the issue of the army and security for all, will take place outside Burundi," CNDD-FDD said in a press release. These issues had to be resolved before moving onto the next stage, it said.

Defence ministry says comment on journalists misinterpreted

The defence ministry has denied ordering the military to consider journalists as enemies, and accused some journalists of "false reports". In a statement, sent to IRIN on Monday, the ministry clarified that journalists were free to travel throughout Burundi and the army posed no threat to them. The statement accused the correspondent of Reuters news agency of "defaming" the minister, Alfred Nkurunziza, by quoting him as allegedly telling the army to consider all journalists in Bujumbura Rural as enemies. "The correspondent...did not attend the minister's meeting at Kabezi in Bujumbura Rural," the statement said. "He simply misinterpreted the minister's comments in bad faith."

RWANDA: Catholic bishop to go on trial

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Gikongoro, Augustin Misago, is to stand trial in Kigali on Tuesday, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. Interviewed by news organisations at Kigali's central prison, he claimed he was innocent and that the Rwandan government was using him as a scapegoat in a bid to target the Catholic church. He was arrested in April, following comments by President Pasteur Bizimungu to mark the fifth anniversary of the 1994 genocide.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government warns of haemorrhagic fever danger

Health Minister Mashako Mamba announced on Friday that eight people had died in August and September from what was believed to be a resurgence of haemorrhagic fever in the Durba area of rebel-held Province Orientale, news agencies said. The most recent victim was a Ugandan soldier who contracted the disease in Durba and died days later in nearby Isiro, Mamba told journalists in Kinshasa. The Associated Press (AP) quoted Mamba as saying the situation was "alarming", and he urged that international pressure be placed on Uganda to close Durba's Dorugba gold mine, believed to be the source of the disease. Some 60 people, mainly mine workers, were estimated to have died in the haemorrhagic fever outbreak that ended in May.

Isiro samples found "negative"

Meanwhile, samples collected from the victim in Isiro and tested last week in a South African laboratory showed negative for haemorrhagic fever, an official from WHO's regional office in Harare told IRIN on Monday. The laboratory results showed that the soldier in Isiro "died from something other than haemorrhagic fever", the official said. However, additional samples have been collected from the area and efforts were underway to transport them to South Africa for further testing, he added.

Sharp drop in diamond exports

Diamond exports in August amounted to US $17.8 million, down from US $31.6 million in August 1988, Reuters said on Friday. Diamond exports have slumped since the government banned the use of dollars in commercial transactions in January. Total official exports in the first eight months of 1999 were US $209 million, down from US $298 million for the same period last year, Reuters reported, citing data from the Centre National d'Expertise (CNE), the country's precious metals valuation board. Reuters quoted sources in the mines ministry as saying many diamonds were being sold to traders in Angola or diverted to Brazzaville. CNE data also showed no official gold exports since February as a result of the rebel occupation of gold-producing areas.

Rwanda, Uganda complete probe into Kisangani clashes

Rwanda and Uganda have completed a report investigating last month's clashes in Kisangani between their two armies. The Ugandan daily 'New Vision' said the report would be made public "depending on its contents". Kisangani centre has been demilitarised and a committee of Ugandan and Rwandan army officers and military police are now in charge, the newspaper reported. They are also jointly in charge of both the Bangoka and Sim Sim airports. Sources in contact with Kisangani told IRIN the joint military commission - set up by the Lusaka accord - had decided that Rwandan soldiers in the Kisangani should move to Lubutu, some 250 km from Kisangani, while the Ugandans should relocate to Bafwasende, some 262 km away.

RCD-Kisangani moves to Bunia

Ernest Wamba dia Wamba's rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) faction has moved its headquarters from Kisangani to Bunia for "security reasons", the 'New Vision' reported on Saturday. It quoted a Wamba loyalist, Mbusa Nyamwisi, as saying when the situation improved, the faction would return to Kisangani. A civil society group in eastern DRC, Heritiers de la justice, noted the proximity of Bunia to the Ugandan border and to Beni, where most Ugandan troops in DRC are based. Wamba is supported by Uganda.

Rights group highlights insecurity in Beni area

The main DRC human rights organisation, ASADHO, has described the level of insecurity in Beni as reminiscent of the "worst moments of indiscipline of the Forces armees zairoises (FAZ)" in the area. In a report, ASADHO said banditry reigned in Beni, and the presence of Ugandan troops had not put an end to Ugandan rebel activity. NALU rebels, fighting to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni, frequently attacked local villages in a bid to feed and equip themselves. In addition, soldiers wearing RCD or Ugandan uniforms were reported to be committing atrocities against the local population, and bands of armed gangs roamed the area "sowing terror", the report stated. "People go to bed each night fearing a visit during the night," it added. Ex-FAZ-FAC troops, who have not rallied to the RCD cause, also created insecurity by raiding and attacking villages, sometimes clashing with Ugandan or RCD soldiers.

UGANDA: Top military commanders reshuffled

President Yoweri Museveni has reshuffled his top military commanders and posted another senior officer to the DRC, the 'New Vision' reported on Monday, citing military sources. Lieutenant Colonel Edson Muzoora was sent to Kisangani to assist Brigadier James Kazini, the overall Ugandan army commander in DRC. "Muzoora has been instrumental in curbing terrorism and high-level crime in the central region," the newspaper reported. "There have been big loopholes in the chain of command in DRC," a top officer was quoted as saying. "That is the problem his excellency is trying to solve."

Over 400 rebels surrender in northwest

More than 400 rebels of the West Nile Bank Front and National Rescue Front II have reportedly surrendered to the government, Ugandan radio said on Friday. Quoting the minister of state for child affairs, Mary Nsanzi Kakembo, it said they would be assisted by the government. The minister was on a tour of the Ochoko Rehabilitation Centre in Arua district, northwestern Uganda, set up to provide skills and help rehabilitate rebels who surrender. However she cautioned that those rebels who intended to go back to the bush would be "crushed" by the government "without mercy".

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Elections postponed by one week

Presidential elections scheduled for 12 September were postponed by one week to allow the distribution of ballot papers to be completed, news agencies said. President Ange-Felix Patasse made the announcement late Saturday following a recommendation by the Commission electorale mixte et Independante (CEMI). The second round of voting, if no single candidate gets over 50 percent on 19 September, was moved from 3 October to 10 October. The delay in the distribution of ballot papers to five of the country's 17 prefectures was due to bottlenecks at the printers, news agencies said. The nine opposition candidates challenging Patasse for a six-year term had last week demanded a postponement, saying "hasty organisation" had given the president an unfair advantage. The election had already been postponed once, from August 29, because of other preparation delays.

Two killed in pre-election violence

Meanwhile, two people were killed and at least two dozen others injured during pre-election violence in Bangui on Friday, news agencies said. The violence took place when a group of supporters of the ruling party was attacked by about 100 supporters of former president and opposition candidate Andre Kolingba.

AIDS ravaging education system

AIDS is the number one killer of the country's teachers, contributing to a serious shortage of primary school instructors, a recent UNICEF study has found. In 1996 and 1997, HIV/AIDS was responsible for over 85 percent of the teacher deaths for which the causes were determined, and 80 percent in the first 11 months of 1998, the study found. Some 107 primary schools were closed between 1996-98 due to lack of teachers. The pandemic was having "important repercussions on the CAR education system", which was already in a "deep and serious malaise" due to growing shortages of teachers, delays in the payment of salaries, low morale and significant demographic pressure. "At the time of the study, to our knowledge, no teacher living with HIV was benefiting from anti-retroviral treatment," the study said, adding that those living with HIV/AIDS were often absent from class due to their precarious health.

The teachers who died of AIDS from 1996-98 had worked an average of 18 years, according to the study. "Without the HIV/AIDS infection, 25,000 more children aged between 6 and 11 years could have been educated over the past three years," the study said. Based on the same calculations, the study projected that some 71,520 children, including 27,977 girls, would be deprived of their basic education between 1997-2005 exclusively because of the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Nairobi, 13 September 1999, 13:45 gmt


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

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