GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 786 [19991025]

GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 786 [19991025]

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 786 for the Great Lakes (Monday 25 October 1999)


DRC: UN mission grounded DRC: France stresses Kabila role in democratisation DRC: Rebel faction condemns French rapprochement DRC: Kinshasa says OAU failing to support "national debate" DRC: Two reported killed in Uvira clashes DRC: Traditional leaders to mediate in east RWANDA: Three Zimbabwean POWs flown home TANZANIA: Mkapa emphasises unity at Nyerere funeral BURUNDI: Focus back on Arusha BURUNDI: Buyoya calls for ceasefire accord first BURUNDI: FROLINA says Arusha must remain venue BURUNDI: Top UN official to visit BURUNDI: Four get death sentence for killing displaced Tutsis UGANDA: Refugees return to DRC UGANDA: Stable nutritional situation in Bundibugyo UGANDA: Army detains pygmy king UGANDA: Rift with Wamba reported UGANDA: Kazini on the defence GREAT LAKES: Netherlands to push for international conference


The first mission of the technical survey team of MONUC, the UN observer mission to the DRC, was postponed on Sunday when the authorities in Kinshasa refused to let it proceed, despite prior agreement. A one-day trip to the town of Mbandaka, Equateur Province, had been scheduled, but flight permission was refused at the last minute without explanation, sources in Kinshasa told IRIN on Monday.

The grounding of the survey team has been interpreted as "an obvious sign of bad will from the DRC authorities, and especially from [Interior Minister Gaetan] Kakudji", who has reportedly made life difficult for MONUC since the start of the mission, the sources said. The DRC authorities have yet to give the freedom of movement and safety guarantees that would allow MONUC to deploy military liaison officers (MLOs) in the field. A meeting between MONUC and Kakudji was scheduled for Monday, but an early departure for the technical survey team was possible unless relations with the DRC authority improved, the sources added.

DRC: France stresses Kabila role in democratisation

French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin has said his country is intent on supporting implementation of the Lusaka peace accord, and that President Laurent-Desire Kabila has "an obvious and important role to play in the democratisation and pacification process". He told a press conference in Kinshasa on Friday that he and Kabila had discussed the different attitudes adopted by a number of neighbours to the accord. "Some of them are more willing to respect the accords while others are less willing," Josselin said, according to DRC state television. He expressed satisfaction with Kinshasa's commitment to the Lusaka peace deal. The "semantic quarrel" as to whether DRC should have an inter-Congolese dialogue or national debate would not provide solutions; what was important was that the Congolese should "hold a dialogue and debate issues affecting the nation", Josselin added.

DRC: Rebel faction condemns French rapprochement

France's stated intention of resuming institutional, state-to-state relations with DRC - contingent on the restoration of peace - was on Sunday condemned by the Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), which said the French were now supporting a person they once described as "genocide perpetrator". An RCD spokesman, cited by rebel-controlled Uvira radio, said the French objective was to stop the ascension to power of a group of English-speaking leaders in Kinshasa.

DRC: Kinshasa says OAU failing to support "national debate"

A "national debate" has been underway since 14 October, but has failed to catch the attention of "some international bodies", DRC state television reported. The Lusaka peace accord provides for a national debate between all sides in the DRC, but representatives from rebel-held areas are not taking part. A week after the launch of "the preliminaries to the national debate", chaired by Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi, "only our compatriots living in occupied territory are still being awaited", the television said. It accused the OAU of not "fully assuming its responsibility" in helping to organise the "inter-Congolese political negotiations".

DRC: Two reported killed in Uvira clashes

Two people were reported killed and at least six others hospitalised after clashes on Saturday between the rebel Armee Nationale Congolaise (ANC) and "negative forces" at Kahungwe market near Sange, north of Uvira, rebel-controlled Uvira radio reported. The clashes disrupted the good running of the polio immunisation campaign over the weekend, the radio added.

DRC: Traditional leaders to mediate in east

Emile Ilunga's Goma faction of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has set traditional leaders in South Kivu province the task of facilitating dialogue between the RCD and "armed groups" in the area, Uvira radio reported on Friday. The announcement was made at a traditional leaders' conference in Bukavu earlier this month, which was chaired by the leader of the Bafulero community, Ntare Simba, and attended by the RCD's territorial administration chief Joseph Mudumbi.

RWANDA: Three Zimbabwean POWs flown home

Three Zimbabwean prisoners of war (POWs) detained in Kigali were repatriated to the Zimbabwean capital Harare last week, an ICRC spokesman told IRIN on Monday. The Rwandan authorities decided to release the soldiers because they were ill. "Under the Geneva conventions, they had to be released for medical reasons," the spokesman said. "They were repatriated on an ICRC plane and received in Harare by the Zimbabwean authorities."

An ICRC statement on Thursday said two other repatriations of POWs, in connection with the DRC conflict, had taken place so far this year on medical grounds. ICRC repatriated a Rwandan soldier from Zimbabwe to Rwanda on 22 April, while another Zimbabwean POW was taken from Rwanda to Zimbabwe on 14 July, the statement said. Under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, the warring parties were to have released their POWs between 7-30 days after its signing, with the assistance of the ICRC. But the ICRC spokesman said no additional information on POW releases was currently available.

TANZANIA: Mkapa emphasises unity at Nyerere funeral

President Benjamin Mkapa on Saturday warned that anyone "dreaming about breaking the unity of Tanzania", generating insecurity or stirring up tensions after the death of former president Julius Nyerere "would be dealt with ruthlessly, and their activities curtailed", Tanzanian radio reported. Speaking after the burial of Nyerere at his home in Mwitongo, Butiama, Mkapa said his government would do "all in its power" to protect Nyerere's legacy of love, unity and harmony, but would not tolerate anyone causing insecurity, fostering discrimination on the basis of tribe or religion, or "bringing about the traditions of slaves and masters".

BURUNDI: Focus back on Arusha

With the funeral of ex-peace talks facilitator Julius Nyerere now over, the focus in Burundi is again on the Arusha peace process. The eight mainly pro-Tutsi parties making up the Convergence nationale pour la paix et la reconciliation (CNPR) have called for moving the process away from Tanzanian territory "where armed groups are carrying out terrorist acts against Burundi". In a memorandum to the UN and OAU, the CNPR said it was "logically impossible" to conduct negotiations calmly in Tanzania and proposed continuing the process in South Africa or at the OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa. The statement added it was "indispensable" to negotiate a ceasefire accord before going ahead with political discussions.

BURUNDI: Buyoya calls for ceasefire accord first

The sentiments were echoed by President Pierre Buyoya, speaking on his return from Nyerere's state funeral on Thursday. Stressing that the peace process would continue, he said: "We will capitalise on the results achieved so far." "We want the peace process to be inclusive...we also want the issue of violence to be considered as the most important, and a ceasefire to be negotiated first. Then a peace agreement can follow," he told reporters, according to Burundi radio.

BURUNDI: FROLINA says Arusha must remain venue

Meanwhile, representatives of the rebel FROLINA group expressed the wish to continue talks in Arusha. Its chairman Joseph Karumba told the Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily on Monday his group would "never retreat" from Arusha until a "positive solution" was found. He also said FROLINA would not accept mediators from South Africa, Rwanda or Uganda "because these countries are facing conflicts similar to the one in Burundi".

BURUNDI: Top UN official to visit

The UN Security Council on Friday expressed concern over the violence in Burundi, saying it supported Secretary-General Kofi Annan's attempts to revive the Arusha process. In a statement, it said this included urgently finding a replacement for Nyerere. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast is due to visit Burundi and other countries of the region from 1 November to discuss the situation.

BURUNDI: Four get death sentence for killing displaced Tutsis

Four people have been sentenced to death in Bujumbura for their part in the killings of over 67 people at a camp for displaced Tutsis in October 1993, Burundian media reports said. The four - two teachers, a butcher and a medical practitioner - were accused of the murders at Buhiga camp in Karusi, northeastern Burundi.

UGANDA: Refugees return to DRC

Most of the estimated 1,000 Congolese refugees who crossed into Nebbi district in August and September have now returned to the DRC, the latest OCHA-Uganda humanitarian update said. Another 300 Congolese who took refugee in the Kisoro area in September were also reported to have voluntarily returned to the DRC, it said. UNHCR has been unable to confirm recent media reports that some 5,000 Congolese had sought asylum in Kasese, the report added.

UGANDA: Stable nutritional situation in Bundibugyo

Security appears to have improved in Bundibugyo, with more internally-displaced persons (IDPs) now leaving their camps during the daytime, the OCHA report stated. However, the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) remained present in the district, it said. WFP has opened an office in Bundibugyo to provide further support to food distributions in the area. Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted among IDPs in Nyahuka town showed that the nutritional situation remained stable, according to the OCHA report. The survey found that 7.3 percent of children under five years of age were suffering form acute malnutrition, with some 5.8 percent severely malnourished, it said.

UGANDA: Army detains pygmy king

The Ugandan army has detained a pygmy king, Geoffrey Nzito, along with two others on suspicion that they were "collaborating with rebels" operating in the country's western region, the private Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) reported on Friday. Nzito, king of some 300 pygmies living in the Rwenzori mountains, was detained on Thursday suspected of trying to recruit fighters for the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) from among people living in camps in Bundibugyo.

UGANDA: Rift with Wamba reported

A "rift" has reportedly emerged between the Ugandan government and its ally and leader of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) faction, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, the independent 'Sunday Monitor' reported. The paper said cracks developed after Wamba's appointment of new "cabinet" officials on 1 October. His appointment of Adele Mugisa Lotshove as minister for infrastructure, public transport and communications did not go well with the Ugandan authorities because she had been appointed by the latter as governor for Kibali-Ituri province, the paper said. The Ugandans want her to stay in her current post.

UGANDA: Kazini on the defence

The Ugandan army chief-of-staff Brigadier James Kazini has said he did "nothing wrong" in the DRC, contrary to press reports blaming him for the August clashes in Kisangani between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies. In an interview with 'The EastAfrican' weekly on Monday, he claimed the clashes were due to "attempts" by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) faction to stop rival faction leader Wamba dia Wamba from holding a rally. "I simply deployed my forces in some places for Wamba's security," he said. Kazini denied "behaving like a colonialist" in the DRC, saying he was deployed there as an army officer. "Maybe some people do not appreciate the way we conduct ourselves as the UPDF, but I believe I have done nothing wrong," he said. He further denied claims that he had threatened to arrest RCD commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane and that the Ugandan army was involved in pillaging minerals. "It is categorically clear that no army officer is allowed to engage in any form of commercial transaction," Kazini stressed.

GREAT LAKES: Netherlands to push for international conference

The Netherlands has said it will press for holding an international conference on the Great Lakes region, an idea already mooted by France. Setting out the Netherlands' new Africa policy in a green paper to parliament, Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen and Development Minister Eveline Herfkens said the country would adopt an "integrated" approach to the continent. This meant the Netherlands' political, economic and developmental programmes would be considered and designed integrally. This would be applied if the international Great Lakes conference went ahead, the paper said. "In our view such a conference must deal cohesively with political and economic issues." The paper said the Netherlands' integrated Africa policy would not focus exclusively on countries meeting the criteria for Dutch bilateral structural aid, but would also take into account the "apparently hopeless countries" where there is no sound policy or good governance, and countries which because of their regional importance could play a special role in providing stability.

Nairobi, 25 October 1999, 14:40 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1843

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

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