IRIN-CEA Update No. 767 [19990928]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 767 [19990928]

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. 767 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 28 September 1999)

AFRICA: Annan calls for promoting humanitarianism to stop conflict

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for promoting human security and human development in a bid to stop conflict in Africa. In a progress report to the Security Council on Sunday, Annan said ensuring that the abuse of humanitarian assistance did not prolong conflict was one of the greatest challenges facing humanitarian actors in today's conflicts. "Relief efforts must be a step towards development, and must be delivered in ways that promote, rather than compromise, long-term development objectives," he warned. Furthermore, in many African countries, painful structural adjustment programmes had led to a significant reduction in social spending. This, coupled with the perception that certain groups were not receiving a fair share of diminishing resources, demonstrated the potential for conflict.

The goal of publicly identifying international arms merchants and their activities had proved elusive, he said, but "perhaps no other single initiative" would do more to help combat the flow of illicit arms to Africa. On UN peacekeeping, he said the international community had shown great reluctance in recent years to assume the political and financial exposure with deploying peacekeeping operations. "This reluctance appears to go well beyond the lessons Somalia offers, and it has had a particularly harsh impact upon Africa," Annan noted. "In addition to the terrible price paid in Rwanda, the broader costs of paralysis can be seen in the reaction by some African governments, especially in the Great Lakes region, to marginalise the United Nations from further political involvement in the region's affairs."

On arms and arms trafficking, the Secretary-General's recommended urgent consideration by the Security Council on how the UN might help compile, track and publicise information on arms trafficking. UN member states should also pass laws enabling prosecution in national courts of violations of Security Council embargoes and African governments should reduce arms purchases to 1.5 percent of GDP.

On sanctions, he said too often they were a blunt instrument and should be better targeted by freezing the assets of decision-makers. On refugees, an international mechanism should be set up to help host governments maintain the neutrality and security of refugee camps which should be located away from borders.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Call for west to mediate

Prominent opposition leader Joseph Olenghakoy on Monday called for the involvement of France, Belgium and the US in facilitating the inter-Congolese political dialogue scheduled to take place under the Lusaka peace deal. "If, as everyone says, they are behind the war, one must bring them back to the territory of peace," Reuters news agency reported Olenghakoy - who is president of the FONUS (Forces novatrices pour l'union et la solidarite) party - as telling a news conference in his Kinshasa home. Olenghakoy - who was released from jail in June after serving one year of a 15-year sentence for flouting a ban on political activity - added that the national debate "should take place in a country in which human rights are well established. It should not be held in an African country". Olenghakoy also accused Kabila's allies in the DRC conflict - Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia - of plundering the country's mineral resources.

DRC: Nord-Kivu Hutus flee to Uganda

At least 350 Hutus of Congolese origin have fled to Uganda from their homes in Ruthshuru zone, Nord-Kivu Province, following the massive deployment in the area of Rwandan troops during the past week, the semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper on Tuesday. The displaced, mostly women and children, fled Kitagoma village in eastern DRC to Busanza refugee transit camp, about 15 km west of Kisoro town, western Uganda, the paper reported. Kisoro District chairman John Ntibiringirwa and Camp Commandant Benon Tumuhimbise had confirmed the movement and security personnel were monitoring the situation, it said. Some of the displaced Congolese claimed at least 19 compatriots had been killed by soldiers in Rwandan uniform. Tension is reported to be high in Nord-Kivu, particularly around Rutshuru and Lubero, as a result of a power struggle between the Rwandan-backed Goma faction and Ugandan-backed Kisangani grouping of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD).

DRC: Journalists released after governor's intervention

The Kinshasa government has released two journalists who were jailed by a military court in June for reportedly slandering the governor of Katanga province, Augustin Katumba Mwamke, in alleging that he was linked to rebel forces. Bella Mako and Ngoy Kikungula, director and chief editor respectively of a Lubumbashi weekly, were released on Saturday after Mwamke had intervened on their behalf, AFP news agency reported on Monday, citing the press freedom group Journalists in Danger. In a separate development, the report added, the head of the bar association in the central town of Mbuji-Mayi, Michel Mpinga Tshibasu, has publicly denounced the "arbitrary arrest" by internal security services of two lawyers: Francois Mpoyi Mukanku, legal adviser to the governor of Eastern Kasai province, and Marcel Mpuanga Mpindu.

DRC: Kabila discusses peace progress with Gaddafi

President Kabila left Libya on Tuesday after two days of talks with President Muammar Gaddafi on bilateral relations and issues of common interest, especially oil production and Libya's peace initiative for the Great Lakes region, Libyan media reported. "I came to hold consultations on the Sirte agreement for peace in DRC...and assess the peace process within the framework of this agreement. We have noticed positive developments in this direction", the Libyan news agency Jana on Tuesday quoted Kabila as saying. Gaddafi's mediation led to a preliminary peace deal between Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (also signed by the presidents of Chad and Eritrea) in the Libyan city of Sirte on 18 April, which called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the DRC.

CONGO BRAZZAVILLE: Over 60 said killed as government recaptures town

About 60 people were reportedly killed in a fierce fight between Ninja rebels and government troops for control of the rebel-held town of Kindamba in the Pool region, according to Congolese radio. It said calm had returned to Kindamba and the public security forces were continuing mopping-up operations.

UGANDA: Referendum dates

Uganda's electoral commission announced it was ready to hold the country's referendum on political pluralism between 3 June and 2 July 2000. Quoting the commission's chairman Aziz Kasujja, the semi-official 'New Vision' said the exercise will cost 12.9 billion shillings but is "yet to be approved by parliament."

UGANDA: "Instant intervention" needed to stop massive threats

International intervention in the internal affairs of states is needed to prevent massive violations of human rights, Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alfred Mubanda told the UN General Assembly on Saturday. The international community should "adopt a definitive convention which will permit instant intervention in cases of massive threats to the right to life," Mubanda said in his address. A "similar act" to the 1994 Rwandan genocide was about to be perpetrated in the DRC in 1997 and 1998, and Uganda found it unacceptable that gross violations of the right to life should again be carried out "in its neighbourhood," he said. He added that the region remained a "potential hotbed of volcanic proportions" for human rights violations. Mubanda called on the international community to support Ugandan efforts to restore peace in the Great Lakes region and to assist in operationalising the Joint Military Commission and Political Committee, which were "the key to the success" of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement.

UGANDA: Global malnutrition not too high but of "concern"

Two nutritional surveys carried out in Uganda's northern district of Kitgum showed that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition for children aged 6-59 months was "not too high" in the villages and comparable to the percentage found in IDP camps. "The percentage of severe malnutrition in the age group is higher in the villages than in the camps," a weather and food security report from the Kitgum-based NGO, Integrated Health Development Program (IHDP), said. Both surveys concluded that the percentage of global malnutrition in the 6-29 month age-range "is rather high and worrisome ... compared to the age group of the 30-59 months".

BURUNDI: Party leader announces withdrawal from peace process

The secretary-general of Burundi's Parti Liberal (PL), Joseph Ntidendereza, has said his party was withdrawing from the Arusha peace process because he had been intimidated and threatened by the talks' facilitators during the 13-18 September round of negotiations. In a statement received by IRIN on Monday, Ntidendereza said he had been subjected to "multiple harassment" by the team of facilitators from the Nyerere Foundation, who assigned security agents to tail him and refused to have the party's working documents typed up, among other things. The party was withdrawing from "all inter-Burundian talks organised on Tanzanian soil", the statement said. It added that PL leaders wished to see priority accorded to the war effort "until the defeat of armed and other genocidal groups allied to the Interahamwe" in Burundi and the entire sub-region.

Nyerere Foundation official Mark Bomani on Monday denied the party had announced its withdrawal from the peace process. Ntidendereza's statement seemed to be from a PL "splinter group", he said. Ntidendereza "was at the last round of talks. He decided to leave after differences with his chairman. We did not tell him to go," Bomani told IRIN.

Nairobi, 28 September 1999, 15:30 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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