IRIN-CEA Update 792 [19991102]

IRIN-CEA Update 792 [19991102]

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 792 for the Great Lakes (Tuesday 2 November 1999)


BURUNDI: Regional leaders to discuss "way forward" BURUNDI: Talks at "critical stage" BURUNDI: South Africa deciding next step BURUNDI: Government pledges to improve security BURUNDI: UN agencies request over $70 million BURUNDI: Macro-economy "emergency" support needed DRC: Bunia still rocked by unrest DRC: Delayed JMC meeting set to begin DRC: "Psychological warfare" on JMC alleged DRC: Rules of procedure, observers' task to be tackled DRC: Air Zimbabwe begins weekly flights DRC: "Reformed" army ready to take on rebels UGANDA: ADF rebels kill five RWANDA: OAU human rights conference opens

BURUNDI: Regional leaders to discuss "way forward"

Leaders of the Great Lakes region are due to discuss the future of the Burundi peace process, following the death of the facilitator Julius Nyerere. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete told IRIN on Tuesday they had decided to call a summit to decide on the "way forward" for Burundi. "It is a meeting of leaders who were involved in the nomination of Nyerere as facilitator of the Burundi peace process," he said. "It is at this meeting that they may look at the names that will be presented and may or may not come up with a name for Nyerere's replacement. They could as well decide to take the facilitation upon themselves." Kikwete could not confirm any dates, saying the leaders "are still consulting" on possible dates.

The Nyerere Foundation, for its part, told IRIN press reports naming possible successors to Nyerere were "just speculation", as were reports that the peace talks would resume on 14 November. Spokesman Brigadier Hashim Mbita said consultations between various Burundian sides were still underway, but did not give details. 'The EastAfrican' newspaper on Monday reported that the CNDD, PARENA and FRODEBU groups, which met in Dar es Salaam last week, had put foward the names of former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and former Tanzanian premiers John Malecela and Joseph Warioba.

BURUNDI: Talks at "critical stage", government says

The Burundi government has officially set out its position on the future of the peace process. In a statement sent to IRIN on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said the government remained committed to the process, noting the negotiations were at a "critical stage". It was therefore necessary to nominate a new mediator "without delay" to avoid "mistakes and various conjectures" which could affect the progress already made. The government called for a "neutral" mediator, aided by at least two deputies, one of whom could come from the Nyerere Foundation.

The statement reiterated that the main issue was to cease hostilities otherwise the peace process would just remain a "theory". "The rebellion, already a trans-border operation, has acquired a multinational dimension due to the various regional alliances." A ceasefire could therefore only come about through cooperation between Burundi and the countries of the region, especially its direct neighbours, the statement said. The government again stressed the rebel groups' armed factions should take part in the peace process, as separate talks between these factions and the government would have no meaning unless all sides were included in the global approach.

BURUNDI: South Africa deciding next step

Meanwhile, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday confirmed her country had been approached by Burundi to mediate in the conflict. In a question and answer session after delivering an address to the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Dlamini-Zuma said South Africa was in the process of deciding what steps to take and the "nature of the mediation" that could be required in Burundi. She added that talks between Burundi, South Africa and Tanzania would take place "soon" to work out peace mechanisms for Burundi.

Regional analyst Sagaren Naidoo of the SAIIA told IRIN he believed South Africa would play a "definite role" in the mediation. "After all, it is in accordance with our foreign policy objectives to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent," he said. "We have the human resources to do the job, like former president Nelson Mandela."

BURUNDI: Government pledges extra efforts to improve security

The Burundian government has pledged to "redouble" its efforts to improve security in the country, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sergio Vieira de Mello said last week. Addressing correspondents in New York on his recent visit to East Africa, he said President Pierre Buyoya and his government had expressed "deep regret" over the killing of two UN staffers in southern Burundi last month. De Mello said he had informed Burundian leaders he would be talking to the rebels, including the armed wings, to try and explain the nature of humanitarian work being carried out in the country.

BURUNDI: UN agencies request over $70 million

Burundi has never needed the support of the humanitarian community more than it does now, the UN said in its consolidated inter-agency appeal covering the year 2000. The document, issued on Monday, said the recent regroupment of people in Bujumbura Rural had raised the total number of displaced people to over 800,000 people, representing 12 percent of the country's population. During 1999, the economy weakened further, food prices increased, donors continued to largely limit their involvement to the financing of emergency assistance, and the government had not been able to increase the provision of basic services, the document said. In the appeal, nine UN agencies have requested a total of US $70.6 million for their efforts in Burundi. It noted that operations were suspended in the aftermath of the 12 October killings in Rutana province, but urgent humanitarian activities would begin "as soon as more effective security measures are assured".

BURUNDI: Macro-economy "emergency" support needed to avoid collapse

With the increased potential for a deterioration in the political and security situation, the humanitarian community in Burundi has shifted its focus to ensuring that emergency nutrition, health, water, education and other needs are adequately met, while promoting sustainable reintegration and recovery activities wherever possible, the UN appeal document said. Priority "life-saving" concerns in Burundi had been addressed, but "sustainable success will depend on donors' willingness to make longer-term, more fundamental commitments to Burundi's future", it said. Support to macro-economic stability should be viewed as emergency aid "to avoid total collapse of the economy and the national administration".

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bunia still rocked by unrest

Rebel Radio Candip in Bunia said "unfortunate incidents" broke out in the town on Tuesday following the murder of a Congolese soldier. "The incidents were caused by legitimate anger on the one hand, and political manipulation on the other," the radio said, adding that the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) of Ernest Wamba dia Wamba had called on the people to remain calm. An investigation into the murder was underway and all soldiers were urged to return to barracks, the radio reported.

Independent sources in contact with Bunia told IRIN on Tuesday that the recent violent incidents in the town started on 27 October when an unknown force of about 400 people attacked Bunia airport and two prisons. The attackers were repulsed and at least 35 assailants were reported killed. The following day, a "miscommunication" regarding a fresh deployment of RCD-ML troops to Bunia led to a shoot-out with local Congolese forces, and one Congolese soldier was reported killed, the sources added.

DRC: Delayed JMC meeting set to begin

A meeting of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), whose mandate is to implement the Lusaka accord, was expected to take place in the Zambian capital on Tuesday afternoon. Work would continue throughout the night - depending on the scheduled arrival of representatives from the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) and Wamba's RCD-ML group, diplomatic sources told IRIN on Tuesday. Earlier reported meetings of the JMC in Lusaka on Sunday and Monday were political consultations rather than military meetings, IRIN was told.

DRC: "Psychological warfare" on JMC alleged

One of the main issues to be ironed out will be "where the money is coming from", according to South African analysts, although sources close to the process said the issue of funding was vastly overstated. "There appears to be some kind of psychological warfare going on against the JMC on the issue," one official said. Some media sources were "creating the impression" that the JMC was being starved of resources, which was not the case, he added. It was "still early days" for a body that held its first meeting on 11 October and "we shouldn't expect extraordinary miracles", he said.

DRC: Rules of procedure, observers' task to be tackled

The agenda would include thrashing out rules of procedure and other technical issues postponed from the last JMC meeting in Kampala. It would also involve working out terms of reference for the deployment of OAU observers, or "neutral verifiers", to work in four sites in the DRC, the diplomatic sources in Lusaka told IRIN. Security guarantees for observers had now been signed by all parties involved, including the DRC government, which had differences with the UN observer mission MONUC about the need for and scope of such a guarantee, the sources said.

DRC: Air Zimbabwe begins weekly flights

Air Zimbabwe on Saturday launched a weekly service from the Zimbabwean capital Harare to Kinshasa, via Lubumbashi in the east. The same-day Saturday service is initially on an experimental basis but will become a normal service if it establishes itself as expected, with commercial travellers shuttling between the two countries for conferences and meetings, an airline official told IRIN on Tuesday. Zimbabwe and DRC have developed close economic and political links since Harare opted last year to back the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila against the rebellion in the east.

DRC: "Reformed" army ready to take on rebels

The DRC has warned Rwanda its "reformed" army is ready to resume the offensive against rebels in the east of the country, AFP reported, citing state television. In a broadcast entitled a "warning from President Laurent-Desire Kabila to Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame", the television said the army was now "ready to fulfill its mission to liberate" the east. "The aggressors may have won some battles, but not the war," it said. "Now the response of the Forces armees congolaises (FAC) will be terrible but just. The day the FAC are in Kigali, we will see how arrogant Paul Kagame is then." The warring sides in the DRC are bound by a ceasefire contained in July's Lusaka peace accord.

UGANDA: ADF rebels kill five

Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed five people and abducted six others during an attack in the western Kibale district, the 'New Vision' daily reported on Tuesday. Security sources said the rebels split into two groups in order to raid the village of Kasubi. They later placed the head of one of those killed near an army unit at nearby Kamusegu.

RWANDA: OAU human rights conference opens

An OAU human rights conference opened in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Monday, Rwandan radio reported. Addressing the 26th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema said the meeting was very important for the people or Rwanda. He urged states still sheltering genocide suspects to hand them over to Rwanda or to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, or else to try them in the respective countries.

Nairobi, 2 November 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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