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IRIN-CEA Update 800 for the Great Lakes (Friday 12 November 1999)
RWANDA: International warrant for Barayagwiza RWANDA: Suspect accuses Kigali of "interference" RWANDA: Eight sentenced to death RWANDA: Accused file petitions for freedom RWANDA: Uganda, Burundi, DRC missions to close UGANDA: Most missions to close UGANDA: Rwanda food ban lifted DRC: MLC launches "counter-offensive" DRC: UN expresses optimism over DRC peace process BURUNDI: Rebels propose two-stage peace plan GREAT LAKES: Year of hopes and setbacks GREAT LAKES: UN launches appeal for 2000 TANZANIA: Appeal urges help for hosting refugees
RWANDA: International warrant for Barayagwiza
Rwanda has issued an international warrant for the arrest of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, freed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the BBC Kinyarwanda service reported on Thursday. Rwandan Chief Prosector Gerald Gahima told the radio that Rwanda should not pay for the "mistakes" made by the office of the ICTR prosecutor. "We believe that the decision was against the law," he said. "To say that Barayagwiza had been illegally jailed for a year, that he should be released and never re-arrested - that is unacceptable to us." It was not in Rwanda's interests for a court to "release killers for no reason". "We would not mind if it [the ICTR] was closed," he added.
RWANDA: Suspect accuses Kigali of "interference"
On Wednesday, Barayagwiza - a former foreign ministry official and founder of extremist RTLM radio - accused Rwanda of "interfering" in the legal process, the Hirondelle news agency reported. In a press statement, he described Rwanda's decision to suspend cooperation with the ICTR as "an intolerable obstacle to justice which the founders of the Tribunal...cannot encourage namely by their silence".
RWANDA: Eight sentenced to death
Meanwhile, a court in Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda, sentenced eight genocide suspects to death and a further 10 to life imprisonment, Rwandan radio reported. Seven others were acquitted. They had been on trial accused of genocide crimes in the Gisa sector of Rubavu commune.
RWANDA: Accused file petitions for freedom
Three Rwandan genocide suspects in ICTR custody have filed a petition for freedom on the basis that their rights had been "violated", the Hirondelle news agency reported. The defendants, former interior minister Edouard Karemera, Juvenal Kajelijeli the former mayor of Mukingo commune and Mathieu Ngirumpatse a former foreign ministry official have tabled protests similar to those lodged by Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza.
RWANDA: Uganda, Burundi, DRC missions to close
Rwanda is to close 10 of its 21 foreign missions, including those in Uganda and Burundi, the Rwanda News Agency reported. It cited political sources as saying the move was being taken for financial reasons. The other embassies to be closed are in Egypt, Libya, DRC, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, Israel and France. RNA said some Rwandans were surprised by the decision to close the embassy in Uganda. Despite the recent problems in relations between the two countries due to clashes between their armies in Kisangani, DRC, in August, Rwandans have many business interests in Uganda and feel "now is not the right time to close the embassy", RNA said.
UGANDA: Most missions to close
Uganda is also to close all but six of its 24 diplomatic missions for financial reasons, Reuters reported. Only the embassies in Brussels, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, New York and Washington would stay open, it said, citing official sources. In a recent letter to the foreign ministry, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said "the idea of African countries, short of resources, having to maintain embassies in scores of capitals, appears to me, more and more, to be another false start," Reuters reported.
UGANDA: Rwanda food ban lifted
Meanwhile, the Rwandan ambassador to Uganda has reportedly said the ban on Ugandan imports has been lifted, Ugandan radio said. Rwanda recently imposed a ban on some Ugandan products, including fish, for "reasons of hygiene".
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: MLC launches "counter-offensive"
The rebel Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) led by Jean-Pierre Bemba has accused President Laurent-Desire Kabila's forces of launching a "general offensive" on all fronts of Equateur province. In a statement sent to IRIN on Friday, the MLC said that the town of Bongandanga was bombed on Wednesday, while Makanza, Dongo and the Basankusu area were attacked on Thursday. The statement called for the rapid fielding of observers to "verify these violations". "The MLC was forced to respond to the attacks by launching a counter-offensive to repulse the enemy troops," the statement added. There was no independent confirmation of the MLC's claim.
DRC: UN expresses optimism over DRC peace process
The UN has expressed optimism that the DRC peace process has taken the right direction after UN personnel were finally deployed in the field. "It's been two steps forward, one step back, but ... it looks like it's going in the right direction, and let's just hope that it continues to do so," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New York on Thursday. He said there had been a broad international effort to keep the situation in the DRC under control. Eckhard said the UN hoped the current peace agreement was the beginning of a solution. "It's been very disappointing that it's been slow in being implemented, and that there have been questions about some of the parties' commitment to it," he added. He confirmed that the UN technical survey team left Kinshasa on Thursday for Gbadolite where it would stay for a day then travel to Goma, Kisangani, Bukavu and Kananga.
BURUNDI: Rebels propose two-stage peace plan
To mark the sixth anniversary of the assassination of president Melchior Ndadaye last month, the rebel CNDD-FDD faction has set out its position regarding Burundi's peace process. In a statement, received by IRIN on Friday, it said negotiations were the best way to achieve peace and proposed a two-stage plan. The first stage - to be held outside the country - would deal with issues related to the army and a "definitive" ceasefire. The second stage would deal with political issues and national reconciliation. CNDD-FDD also invited those members "who deserted, or even betrayed" the group, to take part in a "vast peace movement" for democracy.
GREAT LAKES: Year of hopes and setbacks
Hopes for solutions in the volatile Great Lakes region have been followed by setbacks, often leading to new waves of population movements, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the General Assembly. His report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa, issued this week at UN headquarters, said the optimism that accompanied the lifting of regional sanctions against Burundi in January gave way to disappointment as insecurity spread to provinces bordering Tanzania. Meanwhile, given the positive signs as a result of the Lusaka agreement on the DRC, UNHCR has drawn up a plan for a potential massive repatriation movement, the report said. Some 15 African countries are currently embroiled in armed conflict, resulting in the internal and external displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Africa's continuing displacement problems came at a time when major emergencies elsewhere "have tended to draw the world's attention and to make heavy claims on available resources", the report added.
GREAT LAKES: UN launches appeal for 2000
A UN consolidated inter-agency appeal for countries of the Great Lakes region is seeking over US $162 million for the period January-December 2000 to help in coordination, providing assistance to vulnerable populations, protection and repatriation of refugees and returnees as well as reintegration activities. The appeal says that the affected populations in the region, which now stand at 4,500,000, are expected to increase in the coming year. It noted that the current humanitarian situation in the region was worsening. "Of pressing concern to the humanitarian community is the glaring disparity between political initiatives and humanitarian actions," it observed. However, despite this, the prognosis for peace in 2000 was somewhat more hopeful than in 1999. The appeal will cover activities in Burundi, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.
TANZANIA: Appeal urges help for hosting refugees
The appeal says that given the grim forecast for Burundi, it expected that Tanzania will continue to host large numbers of Burundian, as well as Congolese, refugees. Over US $59 million is required to meet various humanitarian needs in this country. "The challenge will be to ensure minimal humanitarian assistance to refugees while providing support to the government to deal with security aspects," the appeal document said. It added that climatic factors could result in drought affecting food security, particularly in central parts of the country.
NOTE: UN Special Rapporteur clarifies his report
In Bulletin 785, IRIN carried a report on mercenary activity by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries, Enrique Bernales-Ballesteros. Some of Bernales' comments have been disputed by the security firm, Defence Systems Limited, which denied suggestions in the report that it employed mercenaries in Mbuji-Mayi, DRC. As a result, Bernales would like to make the following clarification to his report:
"Issue 785 of the IRIN Bulletin mentions paragraph 42 of my report A/54/326 submitted to the Third Commission of United Nations General Assembly...When a Special Rapporteur refers in a report to one or several allegations about matters within his mandate and does so using the conditional, (it) is because he has not taken them for true, but is only beginning the procedure to confirm or deny them. To mention a person, state, institution, association, enterprise or group, in no way affects the honour of anyone mentioned. This is only a procedural reference and nothing else."
Nairobi, 12 November 1999, 14:25 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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