IRIN-CEA Update 807 [19991123]

IRIN-CEA Update 807 [19991123]

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 807 for the Great Lakes (Tuesday 23 November 1999)


BURUNDI: Three dead in grenade attack on Bujumbura market BURUNDI: Rebel attack repulsed in Bujumbura Rural BURUNDI: Choice of new mediator critical, report warns DRC: Increased insecurity around Uvira DRC: Report claims Iran selling Scuds to Kinshasa DRC: UNHCHR gets prison access DRC: Japan funds peace efforts RWANDA: Barayagwiza would not face death penalty RWANDA: IMF approves loan RWANDA: National reconciliation among key transition goals RWANDA: 25,000 soldiers to be demobilised

BURUNDI: Three dead in grenade attack on Bujumbura market

At least three people were killed in a grenade attack in Bujumbura's central market on Tuesday. Burundi army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani told IRIN the attack occurred around midday, and about 20 more people were wounded. An unidentified man threw two grenades into the teeming market, and in the ensuing panic he was able to run away. Only one grenade exploded. Minani said the authorities did not yet know who was responsible, but an investigation was underway. Regional analysts point out this type of attack was fairly widespread during the violence of 1994 and 1995.

BURUNDI: Rebel attack repulsed in Bujumbura Rural

Minani also said about 15 rebels were killed when they attempted to stage an attack on two army posts in Bujumbura Rural earlier on Tuesday. However, the army was aware of the impending assault and managed to repulse the attackers, he added. One Burundian army soldier was killed and two injured. Minani told IRIN security in the volatile province was improving, but was unable to give a timetable for the return of regrouped people to their homes.

BURUNDI: Choice of new mediator critical, report warns

Burundi analyst Jan van Eck of the South Africa-based Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) has warned that unless a "genuinely new and acceptable" mediation for the Burundi peace process is agreed upon at a regional summit later this month, the prospects for durable peace will be extremely remote. In his latest report, received by IRIN on Tuesday, van Eck said the choice of mediator was critical and the wishes of the Burundian government must be taken into account. He noted increasing opposition among President Pierre Buyoya's support base to continuing the Arusha process in view of the fact it had produced few results, particularly in the field of security and economic development. "Unless the new mediation is seen as more non-partisan and produces results in these areas - especially security - this opposition is likely to intensify and will eventually leave the government with no choice but to withdraw from the mediation process," the report warned.

"The option of finding a solution through negotiations is in permanent competition with the 'alternative' of finding a solution through military means," the report pointed out, stressing that the new mediation would have to ensure the negotiations option became "much more attractive" than war. "Merely making marginal and cosmetic changes to the present mediation process will most definitely not achieve this," the report said.

With uncertainty hanging over the DRC peace process, the report also expressed concern over the "spectre of new regional war" looming in the Great Lakes, specifically targeting Burundi and Rwanda with the reported movement of ex-FAR, Interahamwe and FDD rebels into Burundi and northwest Tanzania. This "resurrects" the option of removing the Buyoya government by force and could undermine the commitment to finding a negotiated settlement, the report warned.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Increased insecurity around Uvira

Mayi-Mayi militia and Burundian FDD rebels have recently been stepping up attacks near the eastern DRC town of Uvira, sources in the area told IRIN on Tuesday. Three attacks were reported last week on the road between Uvira and Kamanyola, in which at least three people travelling in vehicles were killed. Many others were injured. The Mayi-Mayi also attacked a military camp belonging to the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) in the mountains near Uvira, but were repulsed. The fighting caused many people to flee to Uvira town, the sources said. Seven Banyamulenge women and children, abducted by the Mayi-Mayi in March, have reportedly been released in exchange for a ransom.

DRC: Report claims Iran selling Scuds to Kinshasa

The US State Department has said it is taking seriously claims that Iran sold Scud missiles to the DRC. State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin said the US had expressed concern for some time about arms sales to the region. "We continue to have concerns about provision of military assistance to the regime in Congo," he told a news briefing on Monday. "We take very seriously all reports of transfers and missile proliferation, and will be following vigorously various reports, and taking appropriate action, when there is evidence that these ...transfers of concern have taken place." The 'Washington Times' on Monday reported that US intelligence agencies had detected Iranian Scud B and Scud C missile systems in the DRC in recent weeks.

DRC: UNHCHR gets prison access

The DRC government has authorised the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to visit all prisons and detention centres in the country, a UN official told IRIN on Tuesday. In a letter to the UNHCHR office in Kinshasa, Minister of Justice Mwenze Kongolo said the authorisation was based on a 1996 agreement between the UN and the DRC. The new authorisation was of "great value", particularly as it provided access to political detainees, prisoners of war and army deserters, the UN official said.

DRC: Japan funds peace efforts

Japan has contributed US $200,000 to support implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. In a statement sent to IRIN on Tuesday, the Japanese Embassy in Nairobi said the donation would support the activities of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) and facilitate the national dialogue called for in the Lusaka accord. The funds were drawn from a previous Japanese contribution to the OAU Peace Fund, in response to an OAU request, it said. Japan "has been encouraging the warring parties, especially the government of the DRC, to observe the ceasefire agreement", the statement added.

RWANDA: Barayagwiza would not face death penalty

Rwanda is prepared to provide the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with "legally-binding assurances" that the death penalty would not be carried out against genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza if he were tried and found guilty in Rwandan courts, an ICTR spokesman said on Monday. The spokesman, Kingsley Moghalu, said the Rwandan pledge was made on Friday in a government request to appear before the ICTR appeals chamber to present its views on the Barayagwiza case. The appeals chamber on 3 November ordered that Barayagwiza be set free on procedural grounds and returned to Cameroon where he was initially arrested. Rwanda is seeking to have Barayagwiza delivered into its custody, or alternatively released in Tanzania where the ICTR is based.

Meanwhile, the ICTR's newly-appointed chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, was scheduled to arrive in Arusha on Tuesday for her first visit to the UN tribunal, Moghalu said. Del Ponte had planned to visit Kigali this week but Rwanda refused to give her an entry visit in protest over the Barayagwiza decision.

RWANDA: IMF approves loan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a US $32.7 million loan to support Rwanda's economic programme. In a press release, the IMF said the loan, approved on Friday, was the second payment under the country's three-year US $98 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF). IMF directors "commended the authorities for maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving fiscal management and transparency, and making progress with structural reforms...despite a difficult security environment", the release said. Rwanda had achieved "solid economic growth and low inflation" and its recovery from the 1994 war "now seemed to be almost complete", the IMF said. However, it stressed the importance of improving tax administration, reducing defence outlays and proceeding promptly with civil service reform, among other things. The impact of the DRC conflict on Rwanda's economy has been limited, it added.

RWANDA: National reconciliation among key transition goals

The overall objectives of Rwanda's transition programme are to lay the basis for national reconciliation, sustainable economic growth, human resource development and the improvement of living standards, according to Rwanda's recently-released ESAF policy framework paper. The acute lack of human capacity and poor health standards are major constraints to the country's poverty eradication efforts, the paper said. As emergency interventions by donors and NGOs are being phased out, the government has been increasing budget allocations to the health sector, but the problem of HIV/AIDS has become a major development constraint, it said. Meanwhile, the government will continue to contribute five percent of budgetary revenue to the Fund for Assistance to Genocide Survivors, which provides shelter, education, healthcare and other support to victims, the paper said.

RWANDA: 25,000 soldiers to be demobilised

A total of 25,000 soldiers are to be demobilised in four phases ending in 2002 under Rwanda's revised demobilisation plan, the paper said. Some 8,600 soldiers plus about 2,500 child soldiers were demobilised in the first two phases of the plan in 1997-98, and the third phase will target 11,400 soldiers in 1999-2000. In 1998, about 10,000 ex-FAR were absorbed into the army in accordance with the Arusha Accord, the paper added. The demobilisation programme provides assistance for resettlement and long-term economic and social reintegration. The government is seeking further donor financial support for its demobilisation efforts. [The full policy paper is available at]

Nairobi, 23 November 1999, 14:50 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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