IRIN-CEA Update 796 [19991108]

IRIN-CEA Update 796 [19991108]

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 796 for the Great Lakes (Monday 8 November 1999)


DRC: Bemba declares ceasefire "null and void" DRC: Ugandan troops on "full alert" DRC: JMC chief says accord not dead DRC: UN military officers extended DRC: "Wobbly" commitment to peace accord DRC: Rebel faction reportedly seeks Uganda's backing DRC: UNITA rebels accused of infiltration DRC: New Gecamines boss RWANDA: Cooperation with ICTR suspended RWANDA: "Deplorable precedent", prosecutor says RWANDA: Released suspect wants to choose his country RWANDA: Ugandan fish, milk banned BURUNDI: More rebel groups opposed to South Africa BURUNDI: Mkapa urges sides to continue talks BURUNDI: Soldier sentenced to death

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bemba declares ceasefire "null and void"

Leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) Jean-Pierre Bemba has described the Lusaka ceasefire accord as "null and void", following alleged attacks by government forces. The Ugandan 'New Vision' daily quoted Bemba as saying government troops attacked his forces at Dongo on the border with the Central African Republic, but were "easily repulsed". "Now the ceasefire is null and void," he said. Bemba added that this was the second attack on Dongo in a week. He said that since he signed the Lusaka agreement on 1 August, his troops had been attacked in Gbadolite, Makanza and Libanda.

DRC: Ugandan troops on "full alert"

Meanwhile, Ugandan troops are reportedly on full alert ahead of a possible resumption of the war, the 'New Vision' reported on Monday. It said hundreds of Ugandan and Congolese rebel soldiers were rushed to frontline positions at the weekend in northwestern DRC after the alleged attacks at Dongo and Makanza. The paper quoted Ugandan military sources as saying the government "stands by the Lusaka accord but cannot stand by when attacked". "We have our troops on full alert," the sources said.

DRC: JMC chief says accord not dead

The chairman of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), Algerian General Rachid Lallali, said on Monday he had not been officially informed of any renunciation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement by Bemba at the weekend, but that, if true, it would not mean the end of the peace process. Lallali told IRIN he had heard allegations of ceasefire violations but these would be dealt with when the OAU deployed some 30 military observers to the DRC to begin the ceasefire verification process. "By the weekend, we will have the means to be present in the field - to investigate, to check and to monitor these ceasefire violations... We need to start working, we need to start being present in the field," Lallali told IRIN.

DRC: UN military officers extended

The UN Security Council on Friday extended the mandate of 90 UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) to help implement the Lusaka ceasefire accord, but it did not authorise the proposed deployment of 500 military observers. The mandate of the MLOs, whose deployment to the DRC and regional capitals was initially authorised in mid-August for a three-month period, was extended until 15 January 2000, a UN statement said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had recommended last week that the Council also give prior authorisation for the deployment of a 500-member UN observer mission to the DRC as part of the second phase of UN involvement in the peace process.

DRC: "Wobbly" commitment to peace accord

Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, told journalists after Friday's Council meeting that there was "no mention of moving to the second phase, at least not now". He noted that the deployment of the initial 90 MLOs had not yet been completed, and it was proving difficult to overcome the "deep suspicions" of the UN within the DRC. "As to the parties to the peace agreement, we're trying to hold everyone's feet to the fire as far as their commitment to the agreement, but that's quite wobbly," Eckhard said. Meanwhile, Zambia's Secretary for Defence Brigadier-General Timothy Kazembe told Reuters on Friday that the fielding of UN observers would "probably come after three to four months" because the regional JMC would need time to put in place a secure environment for the deployment of foreign troops.

DRC: Rebel faction reportedly seeks Uganda's backing

Rebels of the Goma-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) have reportedly sought Uganda's backing amid the "emerging leadership crisis in the faction and dwindling support from Rwanda", the weekly 'EastAfrican' newspaper reported on Monday. It quoted sources as saying the faction's second vice president Moise Nyarugabo and chief of intelligence Bizima Karaha's surprise visit to Kampala last weekend followed days of "intense infighting" among members of the RCD general assembly.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan authorities said on Monday they were not aware of the details or reasons for the RCD officials' visit. Uganda's senior presidential media adviser, John Nagenda, told IRIN that as Uganda was a signatory to the Lusaka accord, it was keen to follow the agreement to the letter. "We will have to be sure that our interests are safeguarded and that our border is safe," he said. "The accord stipulates that the Interahamwe also be dismantled to ensure security in Rwanda," Nagenda added. "To this end we will work together, but for this particular approach by RCD leaders I do not have the details."

DRC: UNITA rebels accused of infiltration

The DRC government has expressed indignation over the alleged "infiltration" into the eastern part of the country by UNITA rebels from Angola. DRC state television quoted Foreign Affairs Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi as saying the soldiers had entered the country in large numbers and settled in territories occupied by the "aggressors" and their rebel allies. He said they had been seen over the last few days crossing into Kalemie and Moba in the east, as well as Gbadolite and Ikela in the northwest. "We have seen these people arrive in the country but the observers have failed to spot them because they are not in these areas," Yerodia said.

DRC: New Gecamines boss

According to a DRC presidential decree, Billy Rautenbach, the Zimbabwean chairman of DRC's state mining company, Gecamines, has been replaced by a Belgian businessman, Georges-Arthur Forrest, the 'Zimbabwe Standard' reported on Sunday. Forrest, who was born in Congo, is well-known in the country's business circles and heads Forrest International, a mining and civil engineering company which has been operating in Katanga province for decades. Rautenbach's controversial appointment was announced by President Laurent-Desire Kabila last November, but according to the newspaper he has been accused of failing to turn around Gecamines which, as a result, has been facing mounting debt. However, his offshore company Ridgepoint, owns the rights to vast mineral exploitations in Katanga province.

RWANDA: Cooperation with ICTR suspended

The Rwandan government has temporarily suspended its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) after the court freed a genocide suspect, Rwandan radio reported. A cabinet meeting, chaired by Vice-President Paul Kagame, on Friday strongly condemned the move, saying the ICTR's reasons for freeing the suspect could be used by other detainees. Former foreign ministry official and a founding member of extremist RTLM radio, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, was ordered released after the ICTR appeals chamber upheld his protest that his human rights had been violated.

RWANDA: "Deplorable precedent", prosecutor says

Describing the decision as a "deplorable precedent", Rwanda's Chief Prosecutor Gerald Gahima said it "not only illustrates the court's utter ignorance of what happened in this country but also betrays a worrying misunderstanding...of the whole purpose of the existence of the tribunal". "It was not established to provide redress for individuals, per se," Gahima stressed. "We do not feel that the interests of justice are served by penalising the people of Rwanda over the shortcomings of a UN prosecutor over whom we have no control."

RWANDA: Released suspect wants to choose his country

Meanwhile, Barayagwiza has asked that he be allowed to go to a host country of his choice, the Hirondelle news agency reported on Saturday. A letter from his lawyer stated Barayagwiza's family no longer lived in Cameroon - where he was originally detained - and that his client would have problems in settling down there.

RWANDA: Ugandan fish, milk banned

Rwanda has banned the importation of fish, milk and green bananas from Uganda, news agencies reported over the weekend. The Ugandan minister in charge of the presidency, Ruhakana Rugunda, told Radio Uganda on Saturday that the ban was a "very serious" matter which required urgent attention. It had "greatly affected business" in border areas, particularly in Kabale, Kisoro and Rukungiri, Rugunda said, adding that a ministerial-level delegation was scheduled to travel to Kigali to try to get the ban lifted. Rugunda said the reason for the ban remained unclear, the radio reported. Since the end of the war in 1994, fish imports from Uganda have provided an important source of protein especially to urban consumers, USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) has said.

BURUNDI: More rebel groups opposed to South African mediation

The rebel umbrella organisation ULINA has added its voice to rebel opposition to South African mediation of the Burundi peace process. In a statement, received by IRIN on Monday, the Union pour la liberation nationale (ULINA) claimed South Africa was "biased" and alleged there was military cooperation between Burundi and South Africa. It warned opposition politicians that if they took part in negotiations mediated by South Africa "they will be responsible to the Burundian people for all the consequences of their opportunistic attitude and imprudent judgement". Last week, the CNDD faction of Leonard Nyangoma - which does not come under the ULINA umbrella - also expressed its opposition to South Africa's mediation.

BURUNDI: Mkapa urges sides to continue talks

Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has urged all the sides in the Burundi conflict to maintain peace while another mediator is appointed, Tanzanian radio reported. During talks on Saturday with visiting Burundi Foreign Minister Severin Ntahomvukiye, he warned that further fighting could sabotage the entire peace initiative. Peaceful dialogue should continue, even without an international mediator, Mkapa added.

BURUNDI: Soldier sentenced to death

A soldier who killed six people at a displaced people's camp in Ruyaga, near Bujumbura, last month, has been sentenced to death by a military council, Burundi radio reported. It said Private Claude Ndayisaba did not contest the crime. At the time, the incident was blamed on "confusion". The soldier reportedly opened fire after a camp resident refused to show him his identity papers. The military council also sentenced three other soldiers to death, two of them for "premeditated murder after desertion", and a further two received prison sentences.

Nairobi, 8 November 1999, 15:00 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1931

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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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