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IRIN-CEA Update 793 for the Great Lakes (Wednesday 3 November 1999)
DRC: Annan says peace efforts must continue DRC: MONUC extension, 500 military observers recommended DRC: Government objects to same treatment as "aggressors" DRC: Kinshasa security guarantees to UN still "partial" DRC: US "deeply concerned" by military activities DRC: Ituri situation "catastrophic" DRC: Congolese rwandaphones "not protected" by Lusaka accord DRC: RCD reshuffle due to "mismanagement" DRC: Security company denies mercenary activity BURUNDI: Foreign Minister visits Tanzania, Uganda GREAT LAKES: Burundi violence affects refugee repatriation TANZANIA: New Congolese refugees now "rare" UGANDA: Parliament to discuss troop deployment
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Annan says peace efforts must continue
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday said the experience so far in deploying even a small number of military liaison officers (MLOs) in the DRC had deepened appreciation of the enormous obstacles facing any UN operation, but "efforts to support the peace process must continue". The suffering in the DRC "has persisted for far too long for us to miss the chance offered by the Lusaka ceasefire agreement," a UN press release quoted him as telling the Security Council.
DRC: MONUC extension, 500 military observers recommended
In his report, Annan recommended the extension to 15 January of the mandate of the UN observer mission in the Congo (MONUC), due to expire on Saturday, with the added deployment of up to 500 military observers. This should be led by a special representative, soon to be appointed by Annan. The conclusions of technical survey teams should allow Annan provide the Council with further details of the possible establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation by 15 January, the report added. The Security Council is expected to discuss Annan's DRC recommendations on Thursday.
DRC: Government objects to same treatment as "aggressors"
Kinshasa on Tuesday said it had objected to deployment plans by MONUC last week because they dealt with the government and rebels on the same basis. "They put us on the same level as the aggressors," Reuters reported Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia as saying. He also accused the UN mission of not informing the government of the planned visit of a technical survey team to Mbandaka town, permission for which was denied by Kinshasa. However, MONUC sources told IRIN the government knew of the plan and had been approached for a security guarantee.
DRC: Kinshasa security guarantees to UN still "partial"
Meanwhile, UN officials in Lusaka for Tuesday's meeting of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) welcomed "partial security guarantees" given to MONUC as "a significant first step", but regretted the inclusion of certain "unsatisfactory clauses", Reuters news agency reported. The DRC government's document on guarantees had been sent on to UN headquarters in New York "for closer examination", it quoted Major David Hannah of MONUC as saying. Kinshasa last week said it had difficulty with certain aspects of the guarantees demanded by MONUC.
DRC: US "deeply concerned" by military activities
Also on Tuesday, the US expressed its concern over reports of military movements and violations of the Lusaka accord in the DRC. "The US is deeply concerned by reports of military preparations, including the movement of troops and materiel by forces on both sides," news organisations quoted State Department spokesman James Rubin as saying. "These movements are provocative and risk being used as a pretext for a resumption of fighting ... The US condemns any violation of the accord and stresses that we will hold responsible any government or rebel organisation that violates the accord," Rubin added.
DRC: Ituri situation "catastrophic"
The humanitarian situation in the northeast district of Ituri, wracked by civil strife since June, has been described as catastrophic. An exploratory mission by OCHA last month found that over 7,000 people had been killed and over 100,000 people displaced. In a report received by IRIN on Wednesday, OCHA also said there were widespread epidemics of cholera, measles and the plague. Emergency humanitarian action was urgently needed to help thousands of people at risk, the report stressed. The conflict pits the Hema ethnic group against the Lendu people in a dispute over land in the Djugu area. An inter-agency follow-up mission is currently on the ground.
DRC: Congolese rwandaphones "not protected" by Lusaka accord
The Banyamulenge organisation, Forces republicaines federalistes (FRF), has criticised the Lusaka ceasefire accord for not taking into account the protection of Congolese rwandaphones. In a statement, sent to IRIN on Wednesday, the FRF said the Banyamulenge of South Kivu and the Banyarwanda of North Kivu were still targeted as "foreigners". The "virulent anti-Tutsi hatred" sweeping the country was perpetrated in the Kivus by civil society leaders who were also targeting Congolese Hutus. "Today, no Tutsi is secure in the DRC and the current government and civil society cannot ignore this," the statement said. Reiterating that the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) did not represent the Banyamulenge, the FRF said it condemned Rwanda's "aggression and occupation". It believed only a federal system could resolve the problems of DRC and called on the UN to ensure the security of rwandaphone minorities in the country and to facilitate talks between the Banyamulenge and the Mayi-Mayi militias.
DRC: RCD reshuffle due to "mismanagement"
'La Libre Belgique' newspaper has said the recent reshuffle of the RCD-Goma leadership came after its general assembly condemned "financial and political mismanagement" last month. "The reshuffle however, does not exclude the people at the centre of the storm, namely the group's president Ilunga and intelligence minister Bizima Karaha, who retain their posts," the newspaper said. However, it added that the reshuffle appeared to have taken into account more general criticisms made by the assembly with the reduction of departments from 24 to 16. It also appeared that Emile Ilunga's presidential powers had been reduced to more "collegial" activities, the paper said.
DRC: Security company denies mercenary activity
The international security company, Defence Systems Limited (DSL), has denied claims contained in a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries, Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, that it is involved in mercenary activities in DRC. In a statement sent to IRIN, DSL said: "Defence Systems Limited and its parent company ArmorGroup object strongly to the statement made that the company employs mercenaries in Mbuji-Mayi. DSL is a legitimate commercial security company, whose clients worldwide include humanitarian aid agencies as well as global corporations. DSL is certainly not in the business of employing or providing mercenaries, either in the DRC or anywhere else."
BURUNDI: Foreign Minister visits Tanzania, Uganda
Burundi Foreign Minister Severin Ntahomvukiye was due to visit Tanzania and Uganda, starting Tuesday, to discuss the future of the country's peace process, Burundi radio reported. Addressing reporters before his departure, he said the aim of his visit to Tanzania was to "clear any ambiguity" regarding Burundi's position. "Burundi has aired its objective position with a view to strengthening the peace process," he said. "We would like to tell Tanzania that there is no hostility in what Burundi is proposing." In Uganda, Burundi would explain "in detail why it had formulated its proposals". "President Museveni is the chairman of the regional peace initiative for Burundi," he said. "We believe the new mediator will have to be chosen not only by Burundi parties, but the region will also have to agree."
GREAT LAKES: Burundi violence affects refugee repatriation
Violence in Burundi has stopped the organised repatriation of Burundian refugees from neighbouring countries, UNHCR said in its latest fact sheet on Africa. One of the programmes suspended following the October killing of two UN aid workers in Rutana province was the repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania. Prior to the suspension, an average of 200 Burundians were voluntarily returning home from Tanzania every week over the past 10 months, the report said. "The number of returnees had quietly topped 8,000 people, going chiefly to the provinces of Muyinga and Ruyigi," it said. The outlook for some 275,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania has become more uncertain as a result of the suspension, and doubts about the future of Burundi peace talks, the report said, adding that UNHCR staff were on the watch for another refugee influx and a "political radicalisation" of the Tanzanian camps.
Meanwhile, the voluntary repatriation of refugees in the DRC was postponed because of violence in Burundi. Among those affected were over 130 Burundian unaccompanied children in the DRC town of Mbuji-Mayi for whom it had not been possible to trace their families, the report said. It added that another 52 Burundian and Rwandan unaccompanied minors were recently reunited with their families in Mbuji-Mayi.
TANZANIA: New Congolese refugees now "rare"
About 97,000 Congolese refugees have arrived in western Tanzania since the start of the DRC conflict last year, but the influx has virtually ceased since August, UNHCR said in its Africa fact sheet. "Rare new arrivals say that the embattled South Kivu area from which the majority of the refugees have fled is now firmly under the control of anti-Kinshasa rebel forces," it said. The weekly rate of new arrivals into Kigoma dropped from 3,300 to 100 people between July and August, it added.
UGANDA: Parliament to discuss troop deployment
The minister of state for defence, Steven Kavuma, has circulated in parliament a seven-page bill on deploying Ugandan troops outside the country, the 'New Vision' daily reported on Tuesday. According to the bill, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) will be deployed for purposes of "peacekeeping, peace enforcement or any other purpose" at the request of the UN, the OAU, as a regional initiative or pursuant of a bilateral arrangement with any other country. The bill states that troops will also be deployed on "rescue missions, disaster management at the invitation of the host country, military exercises on bilateral or multilateral arrangements and such other purposes as the president may, with the approval of parliament, determine." However, the president would not be required to seek parliament's approval if the security of Uganda or the host country was imperilled in any way.
Nairobi, 3 November 1999, 14:45 gmt
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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