IRIN-CEA Update No. 758 [19990915]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 758 [19990915]

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. 758 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 15 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: More samples taken to determine Durba illness

Blood and tissue samples taken from suspected haemorrhagic fever cases in Durba, Province Orientale, were to be flown on Wednesday to Uganda for forwarding by WHO to testing laboratories at the National Institute of Virology in South Africa and the United States Centre for Disease Control, an MSF official told IRIN. The samples were collected last week during an MSF follow-up visit to the Durba area, where several suspected cases have been reported since the end of the main outbreak in May, she said. "In June, July and August, there were probably somewhere around 15 new suspected cases", identified in the Durba area, but there has been no laboratory confirmation of the presence of haemorrhagic fever since May, the official said.

Last week's samples were collected from among nine suspected cases identified between end July and end August, of whom four died. The new cases "fit the case definition of viral haemorrhagic fever, but there are certainly other viruses that can cause this clinical picture", the MSF official told IRIN. "We should just wait for the results," she said, adding "nothing is happening right now that has not been happening all summer long".

Over 90 suspected haemorrhagic fever cases were reported in the Durba area between November 1998 and May, and the presence of the Marburg virus was confirmed by laboratory analysis in five of those cases, according to information posted on WHO's website. A sample taken from a recent suspected case in nearby Isiro earlier this month has tested negative for haemorrhagic fever, a WHO official told IRIN on Monday.

Tension between Rwandan, Ugandan troops

Tensions between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the DRC remained "very high", South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said on Monday. The 'Business Day' newspaper quoted Pahad as telling a parliamentary meeting that lasting peace in the Congo could only be achieved when the security concerns of Angola, Rwanda and Uganda were addressed. Pahad also said it was "unlikely" that a proposed UN force in the DRC would enforce peace and that the actual disarmament of militia groups would have to be done by the armies involved in the conflict, the newspaper reported.

UGANDA: Army unhappy over Kisangani report

The Ugandan army is reported to have given a "lukewarm" response to the joint Rwandan-Ugandan report on last month's clashes in Kisangani. The independent 'Monitor' daily said it was told the report - which has not been made public - "tended to blame the UPDF [Uganda People's Defence Forces]" for the fighting. The UPDF High Command has reportedly recommended that a panel be set up "to make a broader and fairer review" of the incident in which up to 200 people were killed. One source told the 'Monitor' a further reorganisation of the army was probable, after President Yoweri Museveni reshuffled the top commanders. With the transfer of Brigadier James Kazini, who heads Ugandan troops in DRC, from Kisangani to Gbadolite, the entire Ugandan army HQ has shifted to the northwestern town also, reports said.

Troops to leave DRC by January if Lusaka accord implemented

Meanwhile Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said his troops will leave DRC by January if all the recommendations of the Lusaka peace accord have been implemented, Ugandan radio reported on Wednesday. He told a news conference at State House the troops had been successful in denying a rear base to Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Additionally a route used by Sudan to supply the ADF had been cut off and the rebels had no training ground, he said.

Museveni confirms Karamojong killings

At the news conference, Museveni also confirmed that that army had killed Karamojong warriors in the east of the country, the 'Monitor' reported. "It's true they killed some people, but these are armed raiders. I do not know how many but they were quite a number," he said. Up to 400 people are believed to have died in the cattle-rustling raid and subsequent intervention by the army. Museveni added that a "big operation" had been launched in Karamoja "to put an end to these warriors and their arrogance". The army denied shelling Karamojong warriors during the clashes last week. An Anti-Stock Theft Unit commander, Captain Haruna, told the 'Monitor' that a helicopter gunship on nearby patrol dispersed the raiders without shelling them.

RWANDA: ICTR judges call for permanent international court

The president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Justice Navanethem Pillay, has urged ratification of the Rome Statute setting up a permanent international court to deal with specified crimes including genocide and crimes against humanity. Addressing a UN press briefing in New York on Tuesday, she said now was the appropriate time for the world to look at the work of the two ad hoc tribunals - for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia. Justice Pillay noted that the Arusha tribunal for Rwanda had been more successful than that at The Hague because of the cooperation it had received from African governments who had willingly transferred suspects indicted by the court. She noted the UN had set up the two tribunals because it had recognised there could never be peace without justice. "And that is what we are seeing in the outbreak in East Timor today," she added.

Her comments were echoed by the outgoing chief prosecutor of the two tribunals, Justice Louise Arbour. Ending her three-year tenure, she also called for establishing a permanent international criminal court. "Until we have a permanent, standing institution, we will not have achieved, I think, the full capacity that criminal justice can bring to bear," Associated Press quoted her as telling reporters. Arbour is leaving the UN to take up a seat at the Canadian Supreme Court. Her successor is Carla del Ponte, fomerly Switzerland's attorney-general, who began her new job on Wednesday.

New genocide trial next month

A new genocide trial kicks off at the ICTR next month, the Internews agency reported on Wednesday. The former mayor of Mabanza, Ignace Bagilishema, goes on trial accused of conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western Kibuye prefecture. Bagilishema was arrested in South Africa six months ago, initially on a visa violation, Internews said.

BURUNDI: 66 killed in six days of fighting

Six days of fighting near Bujumbura have claimed the lives of six soldiers and 60 rebels, AFP reported, citing military sources. The clashes, which reportedly began last Thursday, took place in the Mutambu district of Bujumbura Rural province.

Rebels urged to join Arusha process

First Vice-President Frederic Bamvuginyumvira condemned the recent killings by rebels around the Burundian capital, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. At a news conference, he urged the rebels to lay down their arms and opt for political dialogue at the Arusha peace talks.

In Arusha, the smaller Tutsi-dominated parties on Tuesday reiterated they would withdraw from the process unless discussion of a ceasefire was put at the top of the agenda, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Delegates to the peace process, which resumed on Monday, have described the talks as tense.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Opposition requests third postponement of polls

Opposition presidential candidates challenging incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse have demanded a further postponement of the election due to organisational "irregularities", Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Tuesday. It cited a statement from the opposition coalition Union des forces acquises a la paix (UFAP) as saying on Monday that it disagreed with the new 19 September election date and wanted a meeting with Patasse to agree on a new date. However, the UFAP statement said the opposition candidates would not boycott the polls if the request was not granted, RFI reported.

New resources needed as a result of delay

Commenting on the postponement, UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji said that international observers fielded by the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) would have been unable to give an opinion on the credibility of the elections, had voting been held under the circumstances existing on 12 September. Speaking on Radio MINURCA on Monday, Adeniji said delays in the printing of ballot papers had made it "technically impossible" to deliver the materials to all polling stations in time. Meanwhile, Adeniji said he had already contacted "external partners" to seek additional resources required as a result of the postponement.

Nairobi, 15 September 1999, 13:50 gmt


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

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