IRIN-CEA Update No. 766 [19990927]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 766 [19990927]

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. 766 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 27 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN observers get "mixed signals"

The UN Observer Mission to the Congo (MONUC), which began its operational stage in the DRC on Monday, has been receiving "mixed signals" from the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. "The attitude of some authorities does not seem too supportive of our presence, but we are optimistic that will change ... Officially, they have been very supportive of the peace process but, on the other hand, we have been subject to a lot of administrative troubles - whether on purpose or not we don't know," MONUC information officer Lt-Col Pierre Massart told IRIN from Kinshasa on Monday. The establishment of the mission's advance headquarters had been hampered by detailed, sometimes petty, administrative procedures, and there was "a difference between what is being said officially and the attitude of some officials to our presence", Massart added.

19 military liaison officers deployed in region

Nineteen UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) have so far been deployed and begun operations in Kinshasa, Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Harare and Windhoek to monitor the implementation of the Lusaka peace deal. Ninety MLOs were allowed for by the UN Security Council to prepare the ground for further UN support under the terms of the peace deal. In addition to the MLOs already in place, MONUC has requested a liaison team for the Angolan capital Luanda to make sure that every party to the conflict was covered. The deployment of an MLO team to Bangui in the Central African Republic - a non-combatant, but for which the DRC conflict has wide security and humanitarian implications - will follow the completion of the current presidential elections there, Massart said. MONUC's immediate priorities were to set up connections with all the relevant parties, begin the process of putting MLOs in the field and assure that the truce-overseeing Joint Military Commission (JMC) would be activated, he told IRIN. The next meeting of the JMC is scheduled for 10 October.

Factions reportedly massing troops in North Kivu

Tension was reported to be still high on Monday in the areas around Rutshuru and Lubero in North Kivu Province as a result of a power struggle between the rival Goma and Kisangani factions of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), media sources reported. Strong underlying differences between the factions' respective Rwandan and Ugandan backers in the aftermath of last month's clashes in Kisangani were also fueling tensions, they said. The semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper cited Ugandan security sources as saying that at least two Rwandan battalions had been recently deployed north of Rutshuru, in violation of the Lusaka ceasefire accord. The Ugandans and RCD-Kisangani had in turn strengthened their forces at Kanyabayonga, halfway between Rutshuru and Lubero, also in violation of the agreement, it added.

The unrest between the RCD factions was reportedly heightened by the Kisangani grouping's election last week of a new North Kivu governor, Kaisazira Mbaki, to rival the pre-existing provincial governor, Leonard Kanyamuhanga Gafundi, supported by RCD-Goma.

Kabila accuses Rwanda of ceasefire violation

Meanwhile, the government on Saturday accused Rwanda of sending more troops and military equipment to Moba in Katanga Province. Kinshasa alleged that two Burundian ships had transported Rwandan troops and heavy equipment across Lake Tanganyika to Moba, again in violation of the Lusaka peace deal, news agencies reported.

UN envoy seeks funding for peace process

The UN Special Envoy for the DRC Peace Process, Moustapha Niasse, arrived in New York on Thursday for a week of consultations with senior UN officials and representatives of donor countries, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "This comes as part of his advocacy efforts to enhance their awareness on the funding needs of the various aspects of the restoration of peace," Eckhard said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Niasse - a former Senegalese foreign minister - in April to, among other things, assess progress made in the Lusaka peace process and determine what support countries outside Africa are prepared to extend towards a settlement.

New mediators sought after rebel rejection

The OAU is searching for new mediators to lead the proposed inter-Congolese negotiations on the political future of the country, following last week's rejection by RCD-Goma of previously-suggested facilitators, 'The East African' newspaper reported on Monday. The Political Committee created under the Lusaka agreement to supervise the peace plan was also involved in the search, the newspaper said. Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi, who is chairman of the Lusaka Political Committee, said: "I am in contact with the OAU Secretary General and now we are working on getting names and opinions of people," 'The East African' reported. No choice had been made yet, Mbabazi said. RCD-Goma has rejected three proposed facilitators representing the Rome-based Sant Egidio Community, La Francophonie and the OAU, news agencies said.

UGANDA/RWANDA: Museveni to contact Bizimungu on Kisangani report

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Friday that he would write to Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President Paul Kagame to inform them of Uganda's observations - prepared by a committee chaired by Minister of State for Defence Steven Kavuma - on the joint investigation into the Kisangani clashes. News reports said the investigating committee of Ugandan Army Commander Major-General Jeje Odongo and his Rwandan counterpart, Brigadier-General Kayumba Nyamwasa, may be mandated to look again into aspects of the Kisangani report with which Uganda was dissatisfied.

BURUNDI: Rwandan military not helping, Buyoya says

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya on Saturday denied that his country was receiving military aid from Rwanda to help it fight Hutu militia groups. Speaking on Saturday in the Rwandan capital Kigali after meeting with President Pasteur Bizimungu, Buyoya said his country had "all the means" necessary to defeat the rebels. He said "there is no danger of seeing the terrorists destabilising neither the country nor Bujumbura city". Buyoya also disputed the view recently expressed by former Burundian President Sylvestre Ntibantuganya that Burundi was heading towards a 1994 Rwanda-like situation. "I do not share his views," he told journalists. "We have no indications to affirm that," Buyoya said.

Rights group warns of "explosive" situation

Meanwhile, a Burundian human rights group on Friday described the situation as "explosive" with tensions mounting and the violence "becoming deadlier" as the country approaches the end of the Arusha peace process. In a letter to international human rights organisations, ITEKA said peace negotiations were advancing at a "forced pace", ethno-centric passions were high, radical wings were emerging within main political parties, the population's living conditions were rapidly deteriorating and there was a feeling of "imminent chaos." At least 80 civilians were killed by violence around Bujumbura during August alone, it said. ITEKA called on the international community to pressure the belligerents into agreeing to a ceasefire.

At least 17 reported killed

Some 17 people, including at lest 9 civilians, were killed in violence since last Thursday, news agencies said over the weekend. Eight people were reportedly killed by rebels who attacked the village of Munyika in Rutana province near the Tanzanian border on Friday, Radio Burundi said. Residents in the affected locations fled to "military positions," it added. Meanwhile, in two separate rebel attacks reported last Thursday evening, three people were killed in the Musaga suburb of Bujumbura and six others died in Makamba province, 150 km south of the capital. Among those killed in Musaga was a 15-year-old rebel, the Burundi news agency reported.

Governor says Cibitoke peaceful

Meanwhile, the governor of Cibitoke, Benoit Ntigurirwa, said his province remained peaceful and secure, the Net Press news agency reported on Sunday. However, population movements were restricted and inhabitants had been requested to be more vigilant in response to the recent frequent rebel attacks in the Bujumbura area. The Kibira area was of particular concern because it was being used as refuge by rebels pushed out of Bujumbura Rural, Ntigurirwa was quoted as saying.

TANZANIA: Nyerere's condition serious but stable

Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, suffering from leukaemia, was readmitted to a London hospital on Saturday in "critical condition", news agencies said. He was listed in serious but stable condition. The Tanzanian 'Guardian' newspaper quoted President Benjamin Mkapa as calling on Tanzanians to pray for Nyerere's quick recovery and safe return home. Mkapa told journalists in Dar es Salaam on Sunday that Nyerere, facilitator of the Burundi peace process, "can now speak but it has been advised that he should be left to rest. When I visited him on Saturday he could not react to what I told him but he listened to me and perfectly understood the message," Mkapa added. He said Nyerere had been diagnosed with leukaemia in August 1998.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Election results rejected "in advance"

The nine presidential candidates challenging incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse said on Friday that they "reject in advance" the results of the first-round vote, news agencies reported. In a joint statement, the opposition candidates said the 19 September election results would be rejected because of 'the breaching of legality." The candidates called for "popular resistance to prevent an electoral coup d'etat by the candidate Patasse," the statement added. Election results are due to be announced by Bangui's Constitutional Court by 3 October.

Nairobi, 27 September 1999, 16:00 gmt


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

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