IRIN-CEA Update 770 [19991001]

IRIN-CEA Update 770 [19991001]

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 770 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 1 October 1999)

DRCONGO: Goma produce released without payment of duties

Goods which had piled up at customs posts established by the Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) to collect taxes on produce entering Goma from the RCD-Kisangani controlled areas of Beni and Butembo, have now been released without the payment of levies, Goma residents told IRIN on Friday. An RCD-Goma roadblock which was set up at Ruthshuru has also been taken away, they added.

The Goma grouping had decided that all goods coming from a new RCD-Kisangani "province" incorporating Beni and Butembo areas - known as "province de Ruwenzori" - were coming from a foreign country, and that traders were due to pay customs duties when importing goods through Kasindi or from Beni-Butembo, IRIN sources added. The current status of that taxation demand was not known. Emile Ilunga, leader of the Goma faction, stated during an interview with local radio in the town that he would not tolerate being cut off from the northern part of North Kivu province, and that his rebel group would "forcibly" have to gain access if they could not negotiate it, according to sources in Goma.

Meanwhile, the widespread belief that soldiers, and some powerful people associated with both Goma and Kisangani factions of the RCD, have been selling gold, diamonds, timber and coffee from the province, has been confirmed by IRIN sources in North Kivu. Flights were being chartered to export precious stones, while timber was transported by truck, and was not being subjected to any taxes, they said.

DRC: Still no security guarantees for frontline deployment

To date, the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) "had not got any guarantees from any combatant parties regarding the safe deployment of MONUC personnel in combat zones", but anticipated that this would come in time, the mission's chief information officer Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Massart told IRIN. The mission, with a mandate to prepare the ground for future UN interventions in support of the Lusaka peace deal, had now staffed its advance headquarters in Kinshasa and started to function, collecting situation reports from the teams of Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) that were now almost complete in seven capitals in the region: Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura, Harare, Windhoek, Lusaka and Kinshasa, Massart said. MLO teams have yet to be deployed in Angola, an ally of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, and in the Central African Republic, a non-combatant country affected by the conflict.

Observer mission to liaise with humanitarian staff

A survey team to evaluate security conditions in the field was expected to arrive in Kinshasa later in the week, while MONUC also planned to draw on the knowledge of UN personnel already in the field - especially in frontline areas - to establish a picture of the security situation. While no humanitarian personnel would be deployed by MONUC, if it was confronted with "points of interest" - such as the problem of child soldiers - it planned to warn the appropriate agencies, Massart told IRIN.

DRC: Participants in civil society debate stopped from leaving east

Several participants in next week's proposed civil society conference in Kinshasa have been prevented from leaving rebel-held areas in the east of the country, according to NGO sources in Kivu. They said lists of names of some people from North and South Kivu had been posted at the border points to stop them leaving. However, some 60 delegates from eastern provinces have been allowed to travel and will take part in the conference from 4-7 October which is aimed at reconciliation and unity.

RWANDA: Ministers face parliamentary scrutiny of alleged corruption

A parliamentary commission into alleged corruption by three ministers, which cost the government US $1 million, presented its report on Wednesday, and the three were expected be called before parliament to explain their involvement in the coming days, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Thursday. Social Affairs Minister Charles Ntakirutinka, Commerce Minister Mark Rugenera and Institutional Relations Minister at the office of the president, Anastase Gasana, were alleged to have "acted corruptly" in relation to the purchase of government vehicles in 1996 by Ntakirutinka, then minister of public works, the agency said. "If their arguments are not sufficient, a vote of no-confidence will be made and the three ministers will be asked to resign," RNA quoted an unnamed member of parliament as saying.

RWANDA: Probes intended to establish good governance

That investigation follows another announced by Education Minister Emmanuel Mudidi into embezzlement within a US $26 million World Bank project to rehabilitate Rwanda's schools after the 1994 genocide. Meanwhile, Patrick Mazimhaka, a minister in the president's office, would soon to be summoned by parliament to explain alleged mismanagement within the ministry of rehabilitation he was heading, RNA reported. "We hope that ministers will be more careful when they note that some of their colleagues are punished politically," RNA quoted Speaker of the Parliament Joseph Sebarenzi as saying, in explanation of the government's drive for good governance and greater accountability.

RWANDA: Kigali ready to compensate if found guilty over Kisangani

The Kigali government was prepared to apologise to Uganda and pay compensation for the soldiers killed in mid-August's clashes in Kisangani if it was found that the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) caused the incidents, RPF leader Charles Murigande told journalists in Kampala. "Likewise, Uganda I hope would have no problem apologising and paying compensation for the dead if it is established that Uganda was the cause of the tragedy," he added, according to the Ugandan semi-official 'New Vision' daily. Murigande was leading a "damage control mission" to Kampala this week, the paper recalled.

BURUNDI: Priest denies worshippers killed

An Italian priest on Thursday rejected reports that 30 Hutu worshippers were killed by soldiers at his church in Nyambuye last Sunday, AFP said, citing the Vatican news agency FIDES. Priest Luigi Vitella said there was no massacre, as alleged by the missionary news agency MISNA. He said some shots were fired at the church, but no-one was hurt in the incident. He did not mention who fired the shots. The Burundian authorities have strongly denied the MISNA claims.

BURUNDI: Embassy warns against comparing Burundi with Rwanda

The Burundi embassy in South Africa has urged caution over predictions of a Rwanda-type genocide in Burundi. In a message sent to IRIN on Friday, the embassy said similarities between the two countries were due to political history and geopolitics "but not to a predisposition to violence". The embassy said that in order to confront the current violence in Bujumbura, "self-defence units" were being organised for the population. "This self-defence, which is controlled by the administration and the army, should not be confused with the formation of militias which is illegal," the message stressed.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Draft bill for military courts

The government has drafted a bill to set up military courts to judge military offices accused of crimes, news organisations reported. A government spokesman was quoted as saying one court would be situated in the capital Brazzaville and another in the second city of Pointe Noire. The bill is subject to approval by the provisional parliament.

"Disastrous conditions" in Kinkala

The first overland mission to Kinkala in the war-affected interior of the country found "disastrous conditions" with thousands of displaced people suffering from malnutrition, UN Humanitarian Coordinator William Paton told IRIN on Friday. The mission, comprising UN, donor and government representatives, left Brazzaville on Wednesday and was a "major advance" in humanitarian access, he said. Its objectives were to verify access and security to Kinkala town, examine the condition of displaced people there and assess what structures -if any- might be used for meeting humanitarian needs. The mission warned that a humanitarian crisis was unfolding in Kinkala, food was very scarce and many people would not survive.

UGANDA: Kampala attracts asylum-seekers

Many asylum-seekers were continuing to arrive in Kampala - an increasing number of them of Eritrean origin - and were being assessed by UNHCR before being presented to the eligibility committee of the government, UNHCR reported in its new mid-year progress report. The agency was currently providing basic subsistence assistance to between 500 and 600 refugees and asylum-seekers in the Ugandan capital, it added.

Nairobi, 1 October 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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