IRIN-CEA Update 781 [19991018]

IRIN-CEA Update 781 [19991018]

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 781 for the Great Lakes (Monday 18 October 1999)


BURUNDI: Peace talks to go ahead BURUNDI: Government urges postponement BURUNDI: "New lease of life" for Buyoya BURUNDI: Muzye camp residents fleeing BURUNDI: Security meeting in Gitega BURUNDI: UNHCR cuts back activities TANZANIA: Drop in new arrivals from Burundi RWANDA: ICTR envoy on the work ahead RWANDA: Additional charges sought against journalist DRC: Regional ministers seek faster UN deployment DRC: Choice of mediator still pending UGANDA: Military commander reportedly recalled from DRC

BURUNDI: Peace talks to go ahead

Negotiations between six major sides involved in the Arusha peace process, scheduled for Monday in Dar es Salaam, will go ahead as planned, Nyerere Foundation spokesman Brigadier Hashim Mbita told IRIN. "We are not postponing the talks," he said. "We will have a get-together with the delegates who have already arrived and possibly have some preparatory meeting later today [Monday]." Mbita added that once the funeral of the former peace talks facilitator Julius Nyerere, was over, the Arusha process would continue. "We will finish with the funeral [due to take place on Saturday] and then go on with the talks," Mbita said.

BURUNDI: Government urges postponement

Burundi had called for postponing the pre-Arusha consultations in Dar es Salaam. In a letter to the Nyerere Foundation, government spokesman Luc Rukingama said more time was needed for the discussions. Six major sides involved in the Arusha process - the government, national assembly, pro-Tutsi UPRONA and PARENA parties and pro-Hutu FRODEBU and CNDD - are due to meet ahead of next month's proposed resumption of the committee meetings. The process currently hangs in the balance due to the death of the facilitator Julius Nyerere, but Burundi Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) the talks would continue and a new facilitator would be found.

BURUNDI: "New lease of life" for Buyoya, paper says

A private Burundian weekly newspaper 'La Verite' has said that Nyerere's death could torpedo the Arusha peace process and give a "new lease of life" to President Pierre Buyoya which could keep him in power for many years. The newspaper concurred with many analysts that Buyoya is now in a strong position to reinforce the internal partnership and "demonstrate to national and international opinion that Arusha was only a 'mirage' where 'politico-economic businessmen' met just to get some money and divide up the national cake between themselves". The paper also said Nyerere's death risks creating insecurity in Tanzania itself, warning of an "extremist Islamic push" combined with existing socio-economic difficulties, which Nyerere had managed to contain. "If ever Tanzania burns in the same way as Burundi and DRC, the Burundian rebels will not hesitate to defend their rear base and the government in Dar es Salaam," it said.

BURUNDI: Muzye camp residents fleeing

Residents of the Muzye camp in Rutana province have been "leaving en masse" following last week's murder of nine people, including two UN expatriates, the private Azania news agency reported. It quoted the "secteur" chief as saying some were crossing the border into Tanzania, others were staying with family members close to the border. According to a police source, cited by Azania, some "passive complicity" with rebels operating in the region - who are believed to be responsible for the killings - has been noticed among the local population. Azania said the rebels were still infiltrating Rutana province from Tanzania, heading for the Ruvubu national park. It added that the province was "practically in a state of siege".

BURUNDI: Security meeting in Gitega

Regional military commanders, provincial governors and district commanders have been called to a security meeting Monday in the central town of Gitega by the interior and defence ministers, Azania reported.

BURUNDI: UNHCR cuts back activities

Along with other UN agencies in Burundi, UNHCR announced it had cut back its work outside the capital Bujumbura following the Rutana killings. Its international staff and most local employees had returned to Bujumbura from three field offices in Gitega, Muyinga and Ruyigi, and some of the 23 international workers will be temporarily moved to Nairobi. UNHCR recalled that the Burundi office works mainly on returnee reintegration and monitoring.

WFP said that until the suspension of humanitarian activities countrywide, it had assessed a total of 18 regroupment sites in Bujumbura Rural. In its latest weekly report, the UN food agency said 127 mt of food had been successfully distributed to 14,860 people. Distributions were being planned for another 138,400 people believed to be in need of food assistance.

TANZANIA: Drop in new arrivals from Burundi

The number of new arrivals from Burundi into camps in Tanzania had dropped significantly by 10 October, WFP said in its latest emergency update. The drop is attributed partly to the strong Burundi military presence at the border with Tanzania, preventing any movement from Burundi to Tanzania. Some 630 refugees were assisted in returning to Burundi, mostly women and children. WFP said the situation in the region remained "volatile" and new arrivals were a possibility. WFP, UNHCR and other NGOs are currently engaged in revising contingency plans, in the event that the situation in Burundi deteriorates, and are trying to identify suitable sites to accommodate new arrivals.

Meanwhile, the Nduta camp has reached its capacity and cannot receive any more refugees. UNHCR is trying to identify empty plots in existing camps in Kibondo district such as Mtendeli camp and exploring the possibility of extending the camp. The influx started on 1 October when some 1,200 Burundians crossed into the Kigoma area. In the following four days, an estimated 3,000 Burundian refugees reportedly crossed into Tanzania to flee a Burundian army offensive against rebels.

RWANDA: ICTR envoy on the work ahead

The Rwandan government's special envoy to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Martin Ngoga, has said he hopes to influence the court in a bid to improve its performance, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Speaking during a preliminary visit to the tribunal in Arusha, Ngoga said there was a "gap" between his government and the ICTR even though the Tribunal was supposed to see that justice was done for Rwanda. "This void led to a lack of information and my appointment, essentially, is aimed at blocking the gap," he told journalists last week. He acknowledged that the ICTR had made "remarkable progress", although there was still room for improvement. The former prosecutor of Butare prefecture is due to assume his responsibilities at the end of this month.

RWANDA: Additional charges sought against "hate media journalist"

The prosecution on Monday sought leave of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to add four new counts to the genocide indictment against the former editor of the 'Kangura' newspaper, Hassan Ngeze, the Hirondelle news agency reported. The prosecution was also working on a "joinder motion" in the cases against Ngeze and fellow media detainees: Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, founder of the "hate radio" Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM); and Ferdinand Nahimana, a former director of RTLM. The defence was due to respond on Tuesday.

The prosecution also requested that Judge Nevanethem Pillay of South Africa authorise measures for the protection of witness identities in the Ngeze case. Speaking for the prosecution, William Egbe of Ghana said this was necessary because of the security situation in the northwestern prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri from which it planned to bring most of the witnesses.

DEMOCRATIC REPULBIC OF CONGO: Regional ministers seek faster UN deployment

The ministerial-level Political Committee established under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement has called on the UN to address the situation in the DRC with "the urgency and seriousness it deserves", news agencies reported. The committee, which met in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Friday, expressed concern at the pace with which the UN was handling the request for the deployment of peacekeepers, which it said was slower than its response to similar situations in other parts of the world, the Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reported on Saturday. In a statement, the committee commended the warring parties for "generally keeping the peace" since the signing of the accord in July, PANA said. At a meeting last week of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), which is "answerable" to the Political Committee, the warring parties provided "written declarations of security guarantees" for UN personnel and property deployed under the Lusaka accord.

DRC: Choice of mediator still pending

The Political Committee on Friday also urged all Congolese parties to the conflict to agree on the appointment of a neutral facilitator for the national debate on the DRC's political future, news agencies reported. Under the Lusaka agreement, a neutral facilitator was to have been selected by mid-September to lead up to six weeks of all-inclusive inter-Congolese talks. The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) last month rejected three previously-proposed mediators. Radio Rwanda quoted Rwandan Foreign Minister Augustin Iyamuremye as saying upon his return to Kigali on Saturday that the Political Committee had appointed a delegate to assist the OAU in finding a mediator for the talks.

Meanwhile, Ugandan Minister of State for Defence Stephen Kavuma on Sunday said Ugandan troops would remain in the DRC until the government was sure that a "permanent arrangement is in place to ensure that no problem emanates from there again", Radio Uganda reported.

UGANDA: Military commander reportedly recalled from DRC

Uganda's head of military operations in the DRC Brigadier James Kazini has been recalled, according to the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper. Kazini was reportedly being relocated following the recommendations of an investigation into the causes of the mid-August clash between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in Kisangani. The investigation team had recommended that the heads of both Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the DRC be removed in order to normalise relations. Ugandan military sources contacted by IRIN on Monday could not confirm that Kazini had been recalled. "For sure I know he is still in charge of the operations in the DRC," one said.

Nairobi, 18 October 1999, 14:30 gmt


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

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