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IRIN-CEA Update 819 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 9 December 1999)
DRC: Two-front offensive launched by government DRC: Forum on child soldier demobilisation DRC: Holbrooke main aim to find dialogue facilitator TANZANIA: Burundi refugee numbers prompt top-level UNHCR visit UGANDA: NALU "only rebel group in west" BURUNDI: Parliament suggests special status at Arusha peace talks BURUNDI: Minister tells Annan of findings on Rutana killings RWANDA: Appeals court to visit Arusha for Barayagwiza review
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Two-front offensive launched by government
Regional analysts say the situation in DRC has taken a turn for the worse since September, with a two-front offensive launched by government forces. In the northwest Equateur province, DRC troops and their Zimbabwean allies are pitted against rebels of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) backed by Uganda, the analysts told IRIN on Thursday. The second front is in South Kivu where the government is reportedly reinforcing the "negative forces" comprised of the Interahamwe, ex-FAR and Mayi-Mayi fighters. According to the analysts, these militia groups are gaining in strength, posing a very real threat to the region. There is reportedly stronger popular support for them, as the local population wants to see the Rwandans leave Congolese territory. The Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge forces are said to be returning to their Hauts Plateaux area where a "fortress-like mentality" is developing, the analysts added. They pointed out that the humanitarian situation in South Kivu is worsening and local reconciliation attempts between opposing ethnic groups have ground to a halt.
DRC: Forum on child soldier demobilisation
The DRC government has launched an international forum on the demobilisation of child soldiers and their reintegration into society. At the forum, which began in Kinshasa this week, the government reiterated its commitment to demobilising child soldiers. UNICEF said about 120 people were taking part in the meeting, due to run from 6 to 10 December. Addressing the forum, DRC Human Rights Minister Leonard She Okitundu reminded participants that the government had undertaken not to recruit children under 18 years of age and not to send minors to the front. The Algerian ambassador to DRC, representing the OAU, said the Kinshasa forum was a step towards "concretising" the Lusaka ceasefire accord and peace in DRC.
DRC: Holbrooke's main aim to find dialogue facilitator
US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said on Wednesday the key aim of his current mission in Africa was to find a facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue scheduled to take place under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. "The main point is that we are trying to find a facilitator," Holbrooke told reporters in Lusaka after meeting Zambian President Frederick Chiluba. "The choice of a facilitator is still elusive," Chiluba told a news conference after meeting Holbrooke, adding that Organisation of African Unity (OAU) leaders would meet in Addis Ababa next week to discuss some potential facilitators from an undisclosed list.
TANZANIA: Burundi refugee numbers prompt top-level UNHCR visit
The UNHCR regional director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, Wairimu Karago, is undertaking a fact-finding meeting in Tanzania this week in the context of heightened insecurity in Burundi, which has prompted a substantial increase in the number of refugees fleeing to Tanzania. The number fleeing the conflict in Burundi to Tanzanian refugee camps rose from 2,199 in September to 8,132 in October and 9,558 in November, according to a UNHCR press release. Karago, who visited Lukole refugee camp in Ngare district and Mbuba refugee transit camp earlier this week, is scheduled to meet Home Affairs Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed and Deputy Foreign Minister Emmanuel Mwambulukutu on Friday for key discussions, UNHCR added. Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa warned last week the country was finding it ever more difficult to cope with the number of refugees it is hosting.
UGANDA: NALU "only rebel group in west"
The little-known rebel group National Union/Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NULU/NALU) has said it is the only organisation operating in western Uganda and there is no such movement as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). In a statement sent to IRIN on Thursday, NALU's chairman Jafari Salimu claimed ADF was a "nickname" given by the Ugandan army, and said NALU had no connections with Islam. Expressing its opposition to the governing National Resistance Movement in Uganda, NALU warned it had "opened new axes" in the Buganda and eastern regions, in addition to the west. [See also IRIN Special Report of 8 December on the ADF rebellion]: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/cea/countrystories/uganda/19991208.htm
BURUNDI: Parliament suggests special status at Arusha peace talks
Speaker of the Burundi parliament, Leonce Ngendakumana, said on Wednesday that, in view of its national mandate and the role it would have to play in implementing any agreement negotiated, the transitional national assembly needed to have special status at the ongoing Arusha peace talks. This stand was reportedly rejected by a group of parliamentarians representing the influential Convergence nationale pour la paix et la reconciliation (CNPR), Burundi Radio reported. The CNPR accused Ngendakumana of airing an opinion which had not been agreed by parliament and urged the assembly to adopt a clear position on this "crucial question".
BURUNDI: Minister tells Annan of findings on Rutana killings
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was this week briefed by Burundi's Minister for Justice Terence Sinunguruza on the results of his government's investigation of the 12 October killings in Rutana, in which two UN workers died and which prompted a radical scaling-down of humanitarian activity in the country. Sinunguruza met Annan in New York and "informed him orally of the results of the government's investigation", UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Wednesday. No further details were available, he added. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Burundi, Kathleen Cravero-Kristofferson, stated earlier this week that a UN investigation had concluded that definitive details about the Rutana attack would probably never emerge.
RWANDA: Appeals court to visit Arusha for Barayagwiza review
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appeals court is to visit Arusha early next year to review an earlier decision ordering the release on technical legal grounds of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. The appeals court said on Wednesday it would visit the Arusha tribunal in February to hear arguments on Prosecutor Carla del Ponte's bid to have Barayagwiza's release order reversed or revised, the Internews agency reported. The appeals court judges also ordered that Barayagwiza should remain in UN custody "until further notice".
Nairobi, 9 December 1999, 15:00 gmt
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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