IRIN-CEA Update No. 761 [19990920]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 761 [19990920]

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. 761 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 20 September 1999)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Election went "very well" - UN

Presidential elections took place on Sunday without significant problem or incidents reported, UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji told IRIN on Monday. "It went very well. The turn-out was good and people were organised and calm" he said. Voter turnout in Bangui was estimated at between 55-60 percent, but estimates for the rest of the country were not yet available. "At least from what we saw in Bangui and what has been reported to us so far from other areas, there were no major accusations of vote tampering and one can say the election was free and fair," Adeniji said.

There were "minor problems", including delays in the opening of polling stations and shortages of electoral materials in some areas, which were "immediately corrected," Adeniji said. In a few isolated areas where rains prevented the delivery of electoral materials in time for Sunday's election, voting took place on Monday instead, he said. Some 1.6 million people were registered to vote in the election, in which nine candidates are challenging incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse for a six-year term. Troops from the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) and over 200 international observers were deployed throughout the country in support of the election. Results are expected by 3 October. If required, a second round of voting will be held on 10 October.

Congolese soldiers repatriated from Mobaye

Meanwhile, almost all the Congolese soldiers who fled into the Mobaye area from the DRC in July have been repatriated to Kinshasa by CAR and Congolese authorities, Adeniji said. The departure of the soldiers allowed the deployment of MINURCA troops and international observers to Mobaye for Sunday's voting. The presence of thousands of Congolese soldiers and the associated insecurity had delayed the fielding of MINURCA troops and monitors to Mobaye, which is one of the CAR's ten designated electoral observation sites. There were now "at most" 200 Congolese soldiers remaining in the area, Adeniji said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Second polio immunisation round held

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy travelled to Lubumbashi, Katanga province, on Friday to help launch the second round of a national polio immunisation campaign. A UNICEF official told IRIN on Monday that Bellamy had administered polio vaccines and vitamin A drops to the first of about 10 million children expected to be immunised during the three-day campaign. The official said some 1.5 million children could not be vaccinated during the campaign's first round in August, partly due to conflict in eastern DRC, the official said. A third round, which will also include vaccination against measles, is scheduled to be held in late October.

Unarmed opposition rejects Kabila's debate plans

The opposition Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) on Saturday said it would refuse to participate in the national debate if its agenda and venue were "dictated" by President Laurent-Desire Kabila. In a statement received by IRIN, UDPS said the debate's organisation had to be done by consensus among all concerned parties, including the government, the internal democratic opposition and the armed opposition. Meanwhile, the Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), which last week rejected Kabila's decision to hold the debate in Kinshasa, has proposed that it be held instead in rebel-held Kindu, capital of Maniema province, Rwanda News Agency reported on Friday.

Foreign exchange bureaux closed

The government has closed all foreign exchange bureaux in the country as part of a campaign to curb inflation and the fluctuation in the national currency, news agencies reported on Saturday. The order, to take effect immediately, will remain in force until further notice, state television said, adding that only the central bank and retail banks would now be allowed to exchange money. Any individual or company holding foreign funds has until Wednesday to deposit them in a bank, AFP reported.

"Aggression" placed on UN assembly agenda

The UN General Assembly on Friday decided to place "armed aggression against the DRC" on the agenda of its current session, a move which had been opposed by Uganda and Rwanda. The agenda item was one of 170 adopted by the General Assembly, upon the recommendation of its General Committee, a UN statement said. Rwanda last week had argued that the DRC issue should not be debated in the General Assembly as it was already under consideration by the Security Council, while Uganda had expressed the view that the debate on the conflict would be "totally inopportune and disruptive." However, a Congolese representative told the General Committee on Wednesday that his country was "living under military emergency" and that the international community had the duty to "forcefully condemn the aggression" by the Rwanda-Uganda coalition.

BURUNDI: More clashes near capital

Government forces and rebels exchanged heavy fire in the Mutanga district some 5 km west of Bujumbura on Sunday night and Monday morning, news agencies said. Reuters quoted government spokesman Apollinaire Gahungu as saying that five civilians and five rebels were killed in the clashes. "The rebels tried to do something to show they are not finished," Gahungu said, calling Sunday's attack "a suicidal military operation," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Net Press news agency on Monday said 13 civilians were killed by rebels on Friday in the Kayogoro area of Makamba in southeast Burundi.

Peace talks adjourned

Peace talks aimed at ending Burundi's civil war were adjourned on Saturday after a week-long session, Hashim Mbita, spokesman for the talks' facilitating Nyerere Foundation, told IRIN on Monday. The negotiations were expected to resume in the last week of October or first week of November during which the committees were expected to conclude their discussions, he said. "We also hope a possible date for the signing of the agreement will also be set," Mbita added.

UGANDA/BURUNDI: Two presidents discuss region's conflicts

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya on Saturday held discussions with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni during a one-day visit to Uganda. Ugandan radio said the talks centred on the situation in Burundi and the region in general, especially after the recent signing of the Lusaka peace agreement on the DRC. Buyoya reportedly told Museveni that the security situation in his country had "improved" a great deal in the last 12 months, "apart from the recent cases of violence" caused by elements who "sneaked into the country to terrorise the population," the radio said.

UGANDA: Army says 93 Karamojong killed in recent raid

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) said that 93 Karamojong warriors were killed in the recent clashes between the Matheniko and Bokora ethnic groups in eastern Uganda, not hundreds as alleged in media reports last week, Ugandan radio reported on Monday. Meanwhile, six local officials in Kotido district have been charged with "promoting war" against the UPDF, the 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Monday. It said the six were among the "leaders of the unrest" in Karamoja.

Karamoja insecurity affects relief efforts

Insecurity in Karamoja was hampering efforts to assess the impact of drought reported in Kotido and Moroto, an OCHA-Uganda humanitarian update said. The report said the impact of the recent fighting upon the civilian population also remained unknown. International relief agencies were restricting their movements to urban areas, and WFP's school-feeding programme in the area was on hold due to the insecurity, the report added.

Bundibugyo security improves

Security has improved considerably in Bundibugyo district since more UPDF troops were sent to the area in July, allowing relief agencies to carry out their activities uninterrupted, the OCHA update said. However, security incidents continued to be reported and the situation remained unpredictable, the report added. WFP, MSF, Action Aid and ICRC were among the agencies now providing food and non-food assistance to some 106,000 internally-displaced persons sheltering in 36 camps around the district, it said.

Hundreds more displaced by ADF rebels

Meanwhile, rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) reportedly forced out from their homes some 600 people in the Bulegeya, Bujabara, Buhondo and Rubona areas of Kabarole in western Uganda following a series of attacks, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper said on Friday. Humanitarian sources confirmed to IRIN on Monday that there had been "small displacements" in the area but they could not confirm the number of people affected. The displaced were staying with relatives, the sources added. About two weeks ago, some 600 people were reported to have fled their homes in the nearby Fort Portal area following similar ADF attacks, according to local media.

Agriculture sector leads renewed economic growth

Preliminary official data showed that Uganda's economy has performed strongly so this year up to the end of June, after two years of relatively low growth, with an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 7.8 percent, a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) stated. The main stimulus for this economic improvement was an improved performance by the agricultural sector, which had rallied to represent 42.8 percent of GDP after falling for a number of previous years, it added. Although defence spending was likely to overshoot the government's stated target of 1.9 percent for 1999/2000, Uganda's underlying fiscal position was likely to continue its slow improvement through a widening of the tax base, improved tax compliance and close controls on spending, it added.

RWANDA: Former mayor pleads not guilty

The former mayor of Mabanza, Ignace Bagilishema, on Saturday pleaded not guilty to seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, a statement from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha said. In the indictment amended last week, Bagilishema is alleged to have murdered, assisted or conspired to murder thousands of Tutsis in Kibuye prefecture in 1994.

Nairobi, 20 September 1999, 16:30 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1638

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

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