GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 784 [19991021]

GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 784 [19991021]

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 784 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 21 October 1999)


BURUNDI: France to press for resuming cooperation BURUNDI: US ambassadorial nominee on task ahead BURUNDI: Government says ceasefire crucial to peace process BURUNDI: Criteria for new facilitators proposed BURUNDI: 21 reported killed near Bujumbura RWANDA: Suspected meningitis outbreak under control RWANDA: Premier promises democratisation programme RWANDA: Arusha tribunal welcomes government cooperation RWANDA: ICTR gives journalist more time to prepare defence UGANDA: Rwandan, Ugandan army commanders discuss DRC UGANDA: Polio campaigns successful

BURUNDI: France to press for resuming cooperation

French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin has suggested that European countries should not await the signing of a peace accord in Arusha before resuming aid to Burundi. During a one-day visit to Bujumbura on Wednesday, he told Radio France Internationale that on his return to Paris, he would have to study with the president and prime minister several issues put forward by the Burundian authorities. "I will have to try also to convince my European colleagues to try and look at things a bit differently regarding the situation in Burundi," he said. Josselin stressed that the Arusha peace process and the Lusaka peace process for the DRC were linked. "Without peace in Burundi there cannot be peace in the DRC and vice versa," he said. Regional analysts told IRIN his remarks indicate a change in policy towards Burundi, probably linked to the death of Arusha talks facilitator Julius Nyerere. Until now, donor countries had been insisting on a peace accord in Arusha before resuming cooperation with Burundi. But lately, there have been signs that donors are losing patience with the slowness of the Arusha process, the analysts said.

During the visit, Josselin signed two agreements with Burundi. The first, worth FF 5 million, will go towards reinforcing education in the French language and the second, worth FF 4 million, will go towards improving the country's justice system. Regional observers point out that France is keen to maintain its influence in francophone countries. They note that the minister did not visit Rwanda which at official level is disengaging itself from la francophonie.

BURUNDI: US ambassadorial nominee on task ahead

The nominee as the next US ambassador to Burundi, Mary Carlin Yates, has said if her appointment is confirmed she will work to encourage democracy, a more liberal economic system and a "government that gives equal advantage and protection to all its citizens". Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, she said her previous experience in Africa presented her with the "greatest challenges" of her career. "The problems confronting the Great Lakes region, of which Burundi is such a vital component, are imprinted from these experiences," she said. "American diplomacy has worked hard to encourage and support efforts of Burundians to end their ongoing civil conflict, to build a peace process and to establish a democratic government. We want to help build on this progress."

BURUNDI: Government says ceasefire crucial to peace process

The government on Monday told the UN that a ceasefire was crucial to the Burundi peace process and that its neglect, "for incomprehensible reasons", risked ruining the whole process. The government, in "deep disagreement" with the office of the facilitator - the late Julius Nyerere - had been calling for more than a year "for the involvement of the armed faction of the rebellion in the peace process, even if on a parallel basis", a letter from the foreign ministry to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated. "A peace agreement signed during the continuation of war would be as senseless as it would be inapplicable," it added.

BURUNDI: Criteria for new facilitators proposed

A new facilitator should be appointed without delay because the negotiations were now "at a crucial phase", the letter stated. Central issues such as the cessation of violence, transitional institutions, the forces of law and order, and security still had to be negotiated and resolved. While it was up to the international community to propose a facilitator, one or other of the parties could become antagonistic to a single facilitator and the Burundi government proposed "two or three assistants to form a collegium". The criteria used should include: international stature and moral authority; neutrality and independence of mind; acceptability by the principal parties to the negotiations; and an awareness of the urgent need for a cessation of hostilities coupled with the determination to achieve that, the letter added.

BURUNDI: 21 reported killed near Bujumbura

Fifteen rebels were killed in clashes on Tuesday night between the army and Hutu rebels near Ruziba, south of Bujumbura, news agencies reported on Wednesday. The army said it had killed 15 rebels who were trying to infiltrate a regroupment camp, housing about 6,000 civilians outside Ruziba. An army official said six soldiers were killed in a surprise rebel attack in Kamenge, north of Bujumbura, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to Reuters.

RWANDA: Suspected meningitis outbreak under control

An outbreak of suspected meningitis in Gitarama and Kigali Rurale prefectures that claimed the lives of some 40 people in September and early October was "currently under control", with the number of cases and deaths decreasing, WHO announced on Wednesday. The ministry of health and WHO had organised an immunisation campaign targeting 40,000 people considered to be at risk, as well as providing health centres with drugs for treatment of those affected, a statement added. Health centres in Kayenzi, Nyabikenke and Rutobwe had recorded 29 cases and 11 deaths, while 33 deaths that did not occur in health centres had also been reported in the affected areas.

RWANDA: Premier promises democratisation programme

Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema on Thursday said that, after local elections held early this year, the government would, over the next four years, embark on the organisation of elections at communal, prefectural, parliamentary and, later, presidential level to assure the democratisation of the country. He said that for meaningful democracy to take root, the economy must also be improved, and the government particularly intended to boost food production and promote the tourism industry, Radio Rwanda reported. In the next four years - an extension of the interim period of the government of national unity - other priorities would be health and education, national security, unity and reconciliation, settlement of people in rural and urban areas, the eradication of poverty and thorough reform of all administrative structures, Rwigema told the National Assembly.

RWANDA: Arusha tribunal welcomes government cooperation

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Carla Del Ponte, on Wednesday welcomed the first official delegation from Rwanda to the prosecutor's office in The Hague, The Netherlands, and expressed her appreciation for "the excellent cooperation between ICTR and Rwanda". The Rwandan delegation, which included the ambassador to the EU, Benelux and the Vatican, Jacques Bihozagara, Rwanda's Chief Prosecutor Gerald Gahima and Military Prosecutor Andrew Rwigamba, assured del Ponte of Rwanda's "full cooperation" with the tribunal. She replied that the ICTR was "her top priority", according to an ICTR press statement. Del Ponte also said she would travel to Rwanda in November to meet the Rwandan authorities and visit her Kigali office. The visits are considered a further demonstration of improved relations between the ICTR and Rwanda, which had been sharply critical of its slow progress.

RWANDA: ICTR gives journalist more time to prepare defence

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday gave the defence lawyer for former Rwandan journalist Hassan Ngeze an extra week to prepare a response to an indictment amendment request, the Hirondelle news agency reported. The prosecution on Monday sought leave to amend the indictment against the accused, adding four new charges, including genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide. Defence counsel Patricia Mongo said she had only received the prosecution's memo in support of its amendment on Tuesday, and had not had time to familiarise herself thoroughly with the case. Judge Navanathem Pillay gave Mongo until Tuesday 26 October to submit a written response.

UGANDA: Rwandan, Ugandan army commanders discuss DRC

Uganda's Major-General Jeje Odongo, in charge of operations in DRC, on Wednesday concluded discussions with his Rwandan counterpart Brigadier Kayumba Nyamwasa on the security situation in eastern DRC, the semi-official 'New Vision' daily reported. It said they met in the southwestern Ugandan town of Kabale, and Odongo was quoted as saying the two men would hold regular meetings to exchange information. "Since the clashes in Kisangani, I established contact with my Rwandese colleague to meet regularly even if there is nothing of significance to discuss," he said.

UGANDA: Polio campaign successful

Uganda's four year-old national polio immunisation campaign has formally come to an end, after reaching 90 percent of targeted children. The manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (UNEPI), John Barenzi, told IRIN on Thursday there was now "no justifiable need to continue with the campaign". "We have done well and have reached a huge percentage of the population," he said. "We have also put in place detection mechanisms and are strengthening surveillance teams to ensure that no polio case goes undetected." Barenzi added that the focus was now on the "high risk" districts bordering war-torn countries like the DRC and Sudan. "The fluid situation in these countries has made us think they could be possible inlets of the polio germs," he said.

Nairobi, 21 October 1999, 14:10 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1820

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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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