IRIN-CEA Update No. 765 [19990924]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 765 [19990924]

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. 765 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 24 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebel faction rejects mediators

The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) on Thursday rejected three proposed facilitators of the national debate on the political future of the country agreed under the terms of the Lusaka peace deal. "The RCD cannot accept them as mediators", spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters, in reference to Father Matteo Zuppi of the Rome-based missionary community, Sant Egidio; former President of Benin, Derlin Zinsou; and former OAU Secretary-General, Edem Kodjo of Togo. RCD-Goma, led by Emile Ilunga, wanted "a college of facilitators composed of African personalities whose moral integrity and independence are not questionable", Reuters quoted Mende as saying. Ernest Wamba dia Wamba's Kisangani faction of the RCD had on Wednesday stated its preference for Sant Egidio as the sole neutral facilitator of the inter-Congolese talks.

Mayi-Mayi threat discounted

Rwandan and rebel Congolese officers appeared on local television in Kisangani this week to reassure people of their safety following a threat by Mayi-Mayi warriors that they would "liberate" the town this coming weekend, residents told IRIN on Friday. The officers said in a Wednesday television broadcast that the Mayi-Mayi were aimless and disorganised and would not follow through with the threat. A letter delivered to local authorities reportedly stated that the Mayi-Mayi would enter Kisangani on Saturday to chase the Rwandans out of town.

BURUNDI: Government says no camp attack planned

President Pierre Buyoya's spokesman on Friday denied allegations by the rebel Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD) that the government was planning to attack Tanzanian refugee camps hosting Burundians. Presidential spokesman Apollinaire Gahungu told IRIN that the CNDD's claim was "false and without foundation". While there were "infiltrations" into Burundi from Tanzanian territory, his country would not attack Tanzania but would instead call for more cooperation between the two governments, he said. "There have been discussions on the matter...The border is quite porous and it can be hard for Tanzanian authorities to control it. We understand this and so when incidents occur, we consult with the government" of Tanzania, Gahungu said.

The CNDD, citing "various and well-informed sources", said in a statement received by IRIN on Thursday that the Burundian army was preparing an attack on Tanzania's refugee camps. The CNDD "will not watch helplessly the killings of innocent refugees without reacting," the statement said.

"Flushed out" rebels attacking villages

Meanwhile, as a result of the army's firm actions in the face of the recent upsurge in violence, rebels have been active this week around Bujumbura, the presidential spokesman said. "Following a major military operation in all rebel-controlled positions a week ago, the rebels were flushed out and they have been retaliating by attacking buses and villages," Gahungu said, citing ambushes in northern Bujumbura and Makamba. "Our troops are pursuing them and the government has called on civilians to be vigilant and turn in rebels to security authorities," he said.

RWANDA: Bishop denies participating in genocide planning

Bishop Augustin Misago on Thursday rejected any "complicity" with the 1994 genocide perpetrators, saying he became involved with them only on humanitarian grounds. "I did not attend any meetings in which genocide plans were discussed," Misago was quoted by the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) as saying at the resumption of his trial in Kigali. Misago told the court that his diocese's charity had installed its office at Murambi and distributed aid to some 50,000 Tutsis who were later killed in the genocide. Misago is charged with five counts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Defence claim genocide suspect unlawfully held by ICTR

The defence lawyer for the former mayor of Bicumbi, Laurent Semanza, said at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on Thursday that his client was being held "unlawfully," the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Citing an ICTR rule stating that preventive detention could be no longer than three months, the lawyer called on the court to declare his client's arrest and subsequent detention "illegal." Semanza was arrested in Cameroon in March 1996 but he was only indicted in October 1997.

TANZANIA: Debt stunting development, Mkapa tells UN Assembly

Tanzania's current debt stock and service requirements made it "impossible to attain the goal of eradicating poverty and accelerating the development process", President Benjamin Mkapa told the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week. Tanzania's debt service ratio (as a percentage of revenue from goods and services) was about 35 percent, compared to the acceptable range for countries in the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative of 20-25 percent, a UN statement quoted Mkapa as saying. The Tanzanian president also appealed for donor support of Tanzania's Multilateral Debt Relief Fund (MDF), through which, he said, it sought to direct savings on debt servicing to poverty reducing activities in education, health and water services. "We have shown that it is possible to link debt relief directly to poverty eradication initiatives in a transparent and accountable manner that involves government, civil society and donor countries", he added.

The World Bank last week endorsed Tanzania's admission to the HIPC initiative, under which it could receive debt relief of up to 80 percent, AFP reported. The exact amount of debt reduction - Tanzania's external debt currently stands at around US $8 billion - would be determined during a World Bank mission to establish HIPC terms later this year, but Tanzania was also expected to benefit significantly from resource allocation for development under the HIPC scheme, AFP added.

Second Lugufu refugee camp "on hold"

A second refugee camp that had been proposed for Lugufu in the Kigoma region of western Tanzania to ease what was described as "serious overcrowding" at the existing Lugufu facility has been put "on hold" for the moment after a recent re-registration exercise identified fewer camp residents than had earlier been recorded, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told IRIN on Wednesday. Preliminary UNHCR figures from the late August registration and verification exercise revised downwards from 63,300 to 42,823 the refugee population at Lugufu - the figures having been inflated by repeat registrations. The Federation, which had appealed for some US $1.2 million for an extension to Lugufu to ease overcrowding and tension in the main camp, has temporarily shelved the plan but could have 'Lugufu 2' operational within two weeks if the need arose, a Federation official said.

AFRICA: Workshop to strengthen UNEP and NGO collaboration

More than 50 delegates from African NGOs met at UNEP headquarters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, this week for a three-day workshop aimed at "strengthening collaborative links", a UNEP statement said. The meeting also served as an opportunity to prepare African NGOs for the International Conference of NGOs - whose theme is the role of NGOs in the 21st century - to be held from 10-16 October in Seoul. UNEP's Governing Council recently decided to strengthen partnerships with civil society groups to ensure their active involvement in sustainable development, the statement said. The NGOs participating in this week's workshop were from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Nairobi, 24 September 1999, 15:00 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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