IRIN-CEA Update 789 [19991028]

IRIN-CEA Update 789 [19991028]

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 789 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 28 October 1999)


DRC: First UN survey team due to arrive in Goma DRC: MONUC mandate up next week DRC: Key rebel town reportedly falls DRC: Released POWs arrive from Chad DRC: Rwandans not mining in east DRC: Rwandans and rebels clash, killing four RWANDA: ICTR judges to make first working visit RWANDA: Arusha tribunal lifts ban on French, Canadian lawyers RWANDA: US cuts bilateral debt RWANDA: Debt service eating two-thirds of national income RWANDA: Bishop's trial adjourned BURUNDI: Deterioration in human rights, UN envoy says BURUNDI: Minister says those who condemn should help end violence

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: First UN survey team due to arrive in Goma

A technical survey team from the UN observer mission MONUC was scheduled to arrive in Goma on Thursday to assess logistics, communications, mine problems, housing and local transportation, sources in Kinshasa told IRIN. Two previous attempts to send survey teams to government-held areas failed this week as major differences emerged between the government and MONUC over the necessity of MLOs going to areas controlled by the Congolese army.

Thursday's scheduled mission to Goma - where Emile Ilunga's faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has its headquarters - did not represent a deployment of military liaison officers (MLOs) but was merely a one-day reconnaissance trip to help plan for their later deployment, UN sources told IRIN.

It was not immediately known whether that mission had gone ahead, though MONUC was confident it would since it was to a rebel-held area and not one controlled by government forces. The Goma survey was the only one planned so far, despite reports of a planned mission in Gbadolite, because "misunderstandings" between MONUC and the DRC remained to be resolved, informed sources told IRIN. In the longer term MONUC plans to go to all the possible MLO sites, which are close to the combatant parties' field headquarters.

DRC: MONUC mandate up next week

The UN observer mission's initial three-month mandate finishes on 6 November, after which the UN Security Council will have to approve its renewal. At present, there are fewer than 45 military liaison officers in the field, from an approved Security Council deployment of 90, due largely to the absence of security guarantees and the delays in executing the survey mission, UN sources told IRIN. Some are in the regional capitals of Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura, Harare, Lusaka and Windhoek, while the bulk of their number is still at the advance headquarters in Kinshasa.

DRC: Key rebel town reportedly falls

Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Wednesday, and gave him a message from President Laurent-Desire Kabila, news organisations reported. Ugandan military sources told IRIN on Thursday they did not know the content of the message, but observers point out the visit came amid claims by the Ugandan state-owned 'New Vision' that Kabila's troops had violated the ceasefire in Equateur province. According to the newspaper, the DRC army has reportedly captured Libanda, one of the frontline towns of Jean-Pierre Bemba's rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC). The Zimbabwean army has made further claims of fighting in the Ikela region of Equateur province.

A Ugandan military official told IRIN he could not confirm the capture of Libanda since communications with such a remote area were difficult, but cited reports that Bemba had acknowledged losing the town to the Congolese army. With Bemba having declared to the Joint Military Commission (JMC) that Libanda was under his control, its seizure by Kabila's forces would represent a significant violation of the Lusaka ceasefire for the JMC to investigate, the official added.

DRC: Released POWs arrive from Chad

Seventeen prisoners of war (POWs) were on Tuesday flown from Chad to rebel-held Kisangani in Province Orientale, residents told IRIN. They included seven soldiers of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) and Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) and 10 civilians captured at the front lines in Bas-Uele and Equateur province. Upon their arrival in Kisangani, the released prisoners said they had been well treated in Chad, the sources added.

DRC: Rwandans not mining in east

The commander of the Rassemblement conglais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma), Jean-Pierre Ondekane, has denied reports that Rwanda is mining columbite-tantalite - a mineral used in weapons manufacture - in eastern DRC. He told 'La Libre Belgique' newspaper the Rwandans had no extraction plant, and that local people gathered the mineral by hand "and sell it, so they can feed their children".

DRC: Rwandans and rebels clash, killing four

Rebel military commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane on Wednesday said two Rwandan soldiers and two RCD fighters were killed in a "clash resulting from confusion", AFP reported. "There was no communication between the Congolese and Rwandan units. When our soldiers saw troops coming they took up positions and opened fire," Ondekane told AFP. It quoted sources in Goma as saying the clash took place on Monday at Nyakakoma village near the Ugandan border.

RWANDA: ICTR judges to make first working visit inside country

Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are scheduled to visit Rwanda for the first time in a judicial capacity from 1 to 4 November when they will tour four sites in Kibuye prefecture, where crimes in the case against former mayor of Mabanza, Ignace Bagilishema, are alleged to have taken place. The visit, scheduled to take place in Mabanza, Gitesi, Gishiyita and Gisovu, was requested by the defence, an ICTR press release stated on Wednesday. The case against Bagilishema, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, started on Tuesday.

RWANDA: Arusha tribunal lifts ban on French, Canadian lawyers

ICTR registrar Dr Agwu Okali on Wednesday announced the lifting of a ban on the assignment of French and Canadian lawyers to "indigent" defendants. Okali said the ban was never meant to be permanent and had "done its job" in combating the "over-representation" of lawyers from France and Canada, both to obtain a better distribution of lawyers from different legal systems and because "a certain group of lawyers was trying to take over all the legal representation" of ICTR detainees, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Okali said he was sure the ban was grounded in law and would not open the way for any retrospective appeals, the report added.

RWANDA: US cuts bilateral debt

The government on Tuesday signed a debt reduction agreement with the US that allows for a 67 percent reduction in Rwanda's US $1.6 million bilateral debt, following the terms of an agreement last year with the Paris Club of creditor countries. The US pledged to continue supporting Rwanda's rehabilitation and reconstruction process, particularly in the areas of health, agriculture, democracy and governance, Radio Rwanda reported on Wednesday.

RWANDA: Debt service eating two-thirds of national income

However, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Donald Kaberuka said afterwards that bilateral debt covered by the agreement accounted for only 10 to 12 percent of Rwanda's debt and that servicing its US $1.2 billion debt meant it could not liberate resources for investment in health, education and agriculture. "In relation to our capacity to pay, it is quite significant: 65 to 70 percent of your national income - that is something significant," Kaberuka added. He said the government was continuing to seek agreement with individual countries to cancel bilateral debt, as well as maintaining its economic reform programme in order to qualify for the IMF's Highly-Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) on multilateral debt.

RWANDA: Bishop's trial adjourned

The genocide trial of Gikongoro bishop Augustin Misago was adjourned on Wednesday until 4 November, the Hirondelle news agency reported. The Kigali court gave him a week to prepare his defence against fresh accusations of his alleged involvement in the massacre of Tutsis in 1994. Misago has denied the charges against him.

BURUNDI: Deterioration in human rights, UN envoy says

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burundi, Marie-Therese Keita, says the human rights situation has deteriorated due to the civil war in the country. She told a press briefing in Geneva following a recent mission to Burundi that "civilians are denied their basic right to live". According to AFP, she also expressed concern over some 300,000 people who have been regrouped into camps in Bujumbura Rural for security reasons. She condemned prison conditions, claiming male and female prisoners were not separated.

BURUNDI: Minister says those who condemn should help end violence

Burundi's Education Minister Prosper Mpawenayo told Radio France Internationale that during an armed conflict, "it is difficult to talk about human rights". "It is obvious that both parties involved in the conflict will commit murders and destroy property and equipment, so there is a constant violation of human rights," he said. "I think those who condemn the violation of rights in Burundi should help the Burundian people put an end to the violence."

On Wednesday, IRIN quoted a government statement as saying Keita's findings were "one-sided and partial", and accused her of not yet knowing enough about the country. "She should not lose herself in sensationalism which defies reality and promotes the genocidal terrorists," the statement said. It further denied the non-segregation of male and female prisoners and blamed the rebels "who are killing civilians on ethnic and ideological grounds" for human rights violations.

Nairobi, 28 October 1999, 15:00 gmt


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

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