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IRIN-CEA Update 809 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 25 November 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila accused of rearming DRC: Iran denies supplying Kinshasa with Scud missiles DRC: Rebels report battle for northwest town DRC: Mandela's Middle East involvement precludes DRC role DRC: Resolution would "equip" 500 UN observers DRC: Namibia ready to withdraw once UN peacekeepers are in place DRC: Government relaxes Kinshasa curfew DRC: UN agencies request $71 million DRC: Humanitarian action "indispensable" for peace BURUNDI: UN urged to review security phase BURUNDI: Infiltrators from Tanzania, Rutana governor says BURUNDI: Makamba youths undergoing civic training by the military RWANDA: Three genocide convicts sentenced to death UGANDA: Army hunting Ikondere killers
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila accused of rearming
Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila of taking advantage of delays in the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire by rearming his forces. "Kabila is rearming. He has been purchasing a lot of military equipment, he has been reorganising his forces," Reuters reported Kagame as saying. Ugandan security sources and Congolese rebels have claimed that Kabila received two shiploads of arms and equipment from China, India and an unknown Arab country, as well as buying six modified Mig-21 fighter jets, the semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Wednesday.
DRC: Iran denies supplying Kinshasa with Scud missiles
The Iranian government on Wednesday denied a 'Washington Times' report on Monday that it had sold Scud missiles to the DRC government. "The matter is categorically denied," AFP quoted an Iranian embassy spokesman in South Africa as saying. Kinshasa has also denied the report. The acquisition of Scuds for use in a bush war like that in the DRC was considered "unlikely" by defence analysts quoted by AFP. "In a rebellion in Congo, it is a totally ludicrous weapon," it quoted Jakkie Potgieter of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa as saying.
DRC: Rebels report battle for northwest town
The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) on Wednesday said it had recaptured the town of Hiemo, some 60 kms from Bokungu in northwest Equateur province. "For the past two days there has been fierce fighting" AFP quoted RCD-Goma spokesman Kin Kiey Mulumba as saying. "Kabila's soldiers captured the city from us but we took it back yesterday [Tuesday]," he said. There was no independent confirmation of the claim. Meanwhile, Mulumba acknowledged that Kabila now had a "certain military advantage over us", AFP reported.
DRC: Mandela's Middle East involvement precludes DRC role
Former South African President Nelson Mandela said on Wednesday he would consider mediating in the DRC conflict and was keen to lend his assistance, but only when his involvement in the Middle East peace process was no longer required. "I was approached and we are considering the matter," but it would be unwise to take on any other mediation role while he was involved in the Middle East peace process, AFP quoted Mandela as saying.
DRC: Resolution would "equip" 500 UN observers
A draft resolution to "equip" 500 military observers for the DRC was circulated by some members of the UN Security Council at an informal meeting on Wednesday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. The resolution would authorise UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to equip the observers "with a view to future deployment," the spokesman said. "I believe the members are trying to come up with something that would be acceptable to all of them and keep the United Nations role in the Congo moving forward, the next step being the deployment of these 500," he told journalists in New York. Meanwhile, Eckhard confirmed that four UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) arrived in rebel-held Gbadolite on Wednesday afternoon, and another MLO team was scheduled to travel to government-held Kananga on Thursday.
DRC: Namibia ready to withdraw once UN peacekeepers are in place
Namibia said on Thursday it would withdraw its military intervention force from the DRC as soon as UN peacekeepers were deployed. "We would withdraw from DRC now if UN peacekeepers were in place. We shall withdraw tomorrow, if they come," Permanent Secretary at the Namibian foreign ministry, Veiccoh Nghiwete, told IRIN. He also accused the UN of "dragging its heels" over implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire in a way it had not over East Timor. [see IRIN-SA item headlined 'Namibia will withdraw troops once UN peacekeepers are in place']
DRC: Government relaxes Kinshasa curfew
Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji on Wednesday announced the relaxation of a night curfew in Kinshasa, introduced on 13 November, in order to ease residents' problems that were compounded by a city transport crisis. Kakudji said the curfew would begin one hour later, at 10 p.m. local time, and end an hour earlier, at 5 a.m., Reuters reported.
DRC: UN agencies request $71 million
The international community's inadequate and "less than generous" response to the "appalling " humanitarian conditions in the DRC has bred resentment among the local population, the UN Consolidated Appeal for the DRC for the year 2000 stated. "Many feel betrayed by the world's inattention to their grievances," it said. The appeal, launched on Tuesday, requests a total of US $71.3 million to provide primarily life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to some six million war-affected people, which represents about 40 percent of the needy population. The appeal noted that towns on both sides of the ceasefire line had been depleted, harvests lost and traditional social safety nets "frayed to the point of rupture" in a "humanitarian drama that continues to be widely ignored by the international community as it grows in size and virulence."
DRC: Humanitarian action "indispensable" for peace
In addition to military considerations, DRC peace efforts must also address the humanitarian problems resulting from the war and the cumulative effect of three decades of corrupt inaction, the UN appeal stated. For example, the return and reintegration of over one million displaced persons and refugees and efforts aimed at promoting ethnic cohabitation were "indispensable parts of the peace architecture", it said. In spite of endemic violence and persisting inter-ethnic tensions, several community-driven reconciliation initiatives were underway, most notably in South Kivu, it said. Although the Lusaka peace process faced many difficulties, it represented "the only hope for sparing the region from protracted chaos and instability, the appeal added.
BURUNDI: UN urged to review security phase
Burundi's Permanent Representative to the UN, Marc Nteturuye, has said the UN "is not taking reality into account" by imposing security phase 4 on Burundi. He called for a review of the decision, stressing there was a great need for humanitarian assistance to the country, particularly the regroupment camps. Local authorities were present, but an international effort was also necessary, he told IRIN on Wednesday. He stressed the camps had been set up because rebels were targeting Bujumbura. "The security of the capital cannot be neglected," Nteturuye said. He added that the government was also ensuring that no revenge attacks were carried out in the capital.
BURUNDI: Infiltrators from Tanzania, Rutana governor says
The main security problem in southeastern Rutana Province was "rebel infiltrations from Tanzania," Burundi news agency ABP on Wednesday quoted Governor Leonidas Hakizimana as saying. With an increased number of government troops in the area, the rebels had retreated into Tanzania, "certainly to reorganise," he said, adding that "the army should track down the assailants" and young people should be trained in self-defence. Hakizimana said the population of Rutana was "slowly recovering" from the Muziye massacre of 12 October in which 9 people, including two UN staff members, were murdered.
BURUNDI: Makamba youths undergoing civic training by the military
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 youths from six communes in the southern province of Makamba were undergoing "civic training", planned and implemented by the Fifth Military Command, to allow them assist the security forces maintain peace and security in the country, ABP reported on Wednesday. "Participation has not yet picked up" because rebels and their supporters were "calling on the youth not to take part in that type of training," it added.
RWANDA: Three genocide convicts sentenced to death
A court in Cyangugu has sentenced three people to death after their conviction on genocide charges, AFP reported on Wednesday, citing Rwandan radio. Ten more convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment and an unstated number to jail terms ranging from 12 to 20 years, while eight other accused were acquitted for lack of evidence, it added.
UGANDA: Army hunting Ikondere killers
State Minister for Defence Steven Kavuma on Tuesday said the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) was searching for those responsible for the 14 November killing in eastern DRC of Lieutenant Colonel Reuben Ikondere. "We are hunting for them inside Congo and we will bring them to book," the 'New Vision' quoted Kavuma as saying. "But this does not mean the UPDF should pull out of Congo because a person has been killed, we are in Congo because of our security concerns," he told the parliamentary committee on defence and internal security. "It is very easy to fly from Gbadolite and bomb Kasese, we have to protect those areas," he added.
Nairobi, 25 November 1999, 15:30 gmt
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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