IRIN Weekly Round-Up 47-98 1998.11.20

IRIN Weekly Round-Up 47-98 1998.11.20

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 <pre> Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: </pre> Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 47-98 covering the period 13-19 Nov 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila ready for talks with Rwanda, Uganda

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has said he is prepared to talk to Uganda and Rwanda to discuss their "withdrawal" from the DRC. In comments broadcast by Angolan radio during a short visit to Luanda on Wednesday, Kabila again accused the two countries of "aggression". "We have to hold talks with them and get them to explain why and what they are doing in the DRC," he said. "They may allege security problems, but what we see is that they are looting our country...could it be they are in our country for economic reasons?" Kabila added it was now up to Uganda and Rwanda to "decide when they want to sit at the negotiating table". "As things stand, our country is unable to develop," he said. "We think they must come, talk, and leave our country."<p>

Rwanda justifies military intervention<p>

In a statement last week, the Rwandan government justified its military presence in the DRC. A Rwandan committee chaired by Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana claimed the government of the DRC is becoming a "bastion of terrorism in Africa" where all the "old forces of evil" are regrouping. The Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported that the six-point communique gave no details on the number of Rwandan troops or the expense of the operation.

South Africa accused of backing rebels<p>

DRC Foreign Minister Jean-Charles Okoto on Monday accused South Africa of supporting the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), the South African news agency SAPA reported. He was speaking to reporters in the course of a two-day visit to South Africa. "When you look around, there is not any other African country where those rebels are receiving everything they need," he said. "They are really welcome in South Africa." His South African counterpart Alfred Nzo on Tuesday denied backing the rebels, but urged the DRC government to open negotiations. The rebels were no longer a myth, but a "real factor in the political dynamics of the Congo," Nzo said, according to Reuters.

Pressure for negotiations mounting <p>

Italy is to try and persuade President Laurent-Desire Kabila to talk to the rebels when he visits Europe next week, Reuters reported, quoting Italian diplomats in Kinshasa. According to the diplomats, it was possible the Sant'Egidio Community - which has been involved in various African peace initiatives - could also play a role. Reuters noted that last week Kabila met, for the first time, DRC's influential archbishop of Kisangani, Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo, who had recently returned from the Vatican.

Kabila will also visit Belgium and France, where he will attend a Franco-African summit in Paris later this month. Rwanda has strongly criticised Kabila's visit to Europe, saying he should not be welcome because of his "lack of respect for human rights".

Cabinet reshuffle "imminent"<p>

The DRC authorities are planning an "imminent" cabinet reshuffle to reduce government expenses and concentrate on the war effort, the Belgian daily 'Le Soir' reported from Kinshasa on Wednesday. It said the changes were expected to take place before the end of the week, and would involve the abolition of a number of ministerial posts.

Kabila victory will "guarantee" instability, report warns <p>

International Crisis Group (ICG), the Brussels-based think tank, has warned that a military victory by President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his allies in the conflict will "guarantee" instability and the entire region will remain under constant threat. In a recent report on the DRC rebellion, the ICG said Kabila would become "more authoritarian" which would lead to a lack of political consensus and the ensuing economic repercussions. Kabila's "obligations" to his foreign allies would further strain the economy. In addition, the Congolese armed forces would be incapable of protecting the borders.

The report said the preferred scenario was an agreement to hold negotiations - especially on the thorny topic of the Kivus - and the arrival of neutral peacekeeping forces following a withdrawal of foreign troops. This could set the stage for a transition leading to elections, but would necessitate a commitment by the international community, both politically and economically, the ICG said.

13 government soldiers executed <p>

The DRC armed forces announced on Saturday that 13 officers and soldiers were executed for "treason". A statement, read out over DRC television and monitored by the BBC, said the country needed a "tough and disciplined" army. The 13 were accused of "murdering our valiant officers, fleeing before the enemy, abandoning troops and leaving their support weapons for the enemy along the Kabalo-Muzu-Kalemie road". Their execution was intended to serve as an example to others who tried to do the same, the statement said. "Henceforth, there will be no place for laxity in our army," it said.

Rebels to attend peace talks for first time <p>

Representatives of the UN, OAU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are due to meet in Botswana on Friday to try and secure a ceasefire agreement, Reuters reported. Zambian Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Silwamba was quoted as saying rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba was invited to the talks, marking the first direct involvement of the RCD in peace talks. DRC government representatives would not attend the Botswana meeting, but would be present at another regional ministerial meeting planned for 6 December in Lusaka, the minister said.

Rebel leaders agree to bury their differences <p>

Meanwhile, Wamba dia Wamba is reported to have met another rebel chief, Jean-Pierre Bemba, in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Wednesday. According to AP, the two men said they agreed to pool efforts against Kabila's forces, rather than create "the illusion of division" among themselves. A BBC report from Bemba's stronghold in Equateur province said the millionaire businessman, who heads the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC), appeared to have Uganda's support. There was a strong Ugandan military presence in the Dulia area where Chadian troops had been routed. According to the reporter, Uganda may have lost patience with the RCD "for its failure to make the rebellion genuinely popular".

Rebels claim control of Moba, Kongolo <p>

Rebels this week claimed to have taken the Katangese towns of Moba and Kongolo. The Rwanda News Agency on Tuesday quoted rebel-controlled Radio Bukavu which said 352 Congolese soldiers were captured during the "short battle" for Moba. The fall of Kongolo, on 9 November, meant the rebel forces were heading for Lubumbashi, rebel-held Goma radio said.

Bumba residents reportedly fleeing <p>

Meanwhile, the independent "Le Phare" daily reported on Monday that residents of Bumba, in Equateur province, were fleeing the town in fear of a rebel attack. The rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) is active in the region. Humanitarian sources in contact with Bumba said there had been looting in the town and a curfew had been clamped on the provincial capital of Mbandaka.

SPLA helping Ugandans in Province Orientale, Sudanese envoy alleges <p>

The Sudanese ambassador to DRC, Al-Sadiq Osman, has claimed the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is fighting alongside rebels in the Buta and Isiro areas of Province Orientale. He told DRC radio on Wednesday the SPLA was assisting Ugandan forces in the area. He further denied that Sudanese forces were fighting on the DRC side. "Concerning the Sudanese allegedly captured, they are traders residing in DRC," he said. Humanitarian sources in touch with the area told IRIN recently SPLA forces controlled other parts of northeastern DRC, including Doruma, Dungu and Faradje.

96 cholera deaths in Shabunda last month <p>

An international NGO in contact with health officials in Shabunda says during October, 448 cases of cholera were reported in the local cholera treatment centre. Of these there were 96 deaths, the NGO told IRIN. About 225 other cases, including 111 deaths, were reported in various health centres throughout the Shabunda health zone. The areas most affected by cholera are reportedly villages in the south of the health zone as well as Shabunda itself.

SUDAN: Two killed as Yei hospital "extensively damaged" by bombing <p>

Two people were killed by an aerial bombing of Yei hospital, southern Sudan, on Saturday, an NGO told IRIN on Monday. Norwegian People's Aid official Dan Eiffe said that about six bombs fell during the attack, which left one child dead inside the hospital and one adult killed outside. Eleven people were seriously injured, Eiffe said. The attack damaged the roof and windows of the hospital and destroyed a recent consignment of drugs. Eiffe said the attack, the "fourth or fifth this year", made him and his colleagues feel "hopeless". Yei, in Western Equatoria, is held by the SPLA and is one of their main headquarters, observers say. Southern Sudan map:

Rebel leader says Kenyan police holding him "hostage" <p>

Sudanese rebel leader Kerubino Kuanyin Bol has accused Kenyan police of keeping him "hostage" by forbidding him to leave Kenya. Speaking on Kenyan television on Wednesday, he claimed SPLA leader John Garang had ordered his detention in Kenya. The 'Daily Nation' on Thursday wrote that Kerubino and four aides were allegedly arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday on the orders of Garang which sparked clashes between supporters of the two factions at Muthangari police station in Nairobi, and not at Garang's residence as had earlier been reported. Garang's whereabouts are currently unknown, with some reports claiming he is in hiding.

Gogrial populated only by displaced persons <p>

A recent OLS assessment mission to Gogrial, north of Wau in Bahr al-Ghazal, found that there were less than 300 people living in the town and that they were all displaced persons, according to the latest UNICEF weekly update received from Khartoum. The nutritional status of the population was found to be adequate but access to clean water was difficult, the report said. The UNICEF team vaccinated 141 children and treated 57 women with tetanus toxoid, it added.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: 40, including six clergymen, killed in clashes <p>

At least 40 people were killed in the Pool region on Saturday during clashes between Ninja militiamen and soldiers, Radio France Internationale reported. The Ninjas, allied to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, reportedly burst into a church meeting in Mindouli, some 150 km west of Brazzaville, and killed "in cold blood" six clergymen who were members of a mediation committee, as well as local officials. More people were killed when the Congolese army tried to repulse the attackers, news agencies said.

BURUNDI: Official massacre toll increases to 56 <p>

A Burundian official has put the number of dead at 56 following a military operation earlier this month near the capital Bujumbura. Reuters quoted the governor of Bujumbura Rural province, Stanislas Ntahobaru, who said the number was higher than the previous government figure of about 30. The government last week admitted its troops had killed civilians while pursuing rebels in Mutambu commune.

A government statement, received by IRIN on Monday, said a commission has been established to investigate the incident, comprising representatives of the first vice-president's office and the ministries of justice, defence and human rights. Initial findings have led to the arrest of three officers. "The government is determined to punish all the culprits in accordance with the law," the statement said.

UN deplores attacks against civilians <p>

The UN Security Council on Wednesday said it fully endorsed last week's condemnation by the Secretary-General of the "escalating cycle of violence" in Burundi. It particularly called for the swift punishment of all those guilty of "deplorable" attacks against civilians. Council president Peter Burleigh told reporters he welcomed the Burundi government's intention to investigate the army killing of civilians.

RWANDA: Verdict awaited in two more genocide trials <p>

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday concluded two more genocide trials, but the date for the verdicts has still to be announced, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. The former prefect of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, and businessman Obed Ruzindana pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at a joint trial that lasted nearly 20 months.

Suspect pleads not guilty to ex-premier's murder <p>

An ex-FAR officer who "surrendered" to the ICTR earlier this year has pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering former prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Bernard Ntuyahaga, who appeared before the tribunal on Friday, arrived in Arusha in June requesting protection as a witness. He was later arrested as a suspect in the murder of the former premier and 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers.

Army officer killed by rebels <p>

A Rwandan army officer and his escort were killed in a rebel ambush on Friday near the northwest town of Gatonde, AP reported. According to Rwandan officials, the rebels fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an army pick-up truck. AP noted that rebel attacks on army convoys and other military targets are rare.

ERITREA: Djibouti closes embassy <p>

Djibouti on Thursday closed its embassy in Asmara to protest against Eritrean allegations it was siding with Ethiopia in the border conflict, AP reported. Djibouti has demanded an apology, but Eritrean presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab was quoted as saying Eritrea would express "no regret to a nation that is backing Ethiopia". However, Asmara did not plan to sever ties with Djibouti, he added. Eritrea accuses Djibouti of providing facilities and services to the Ethiopian army via its port.

ETHIOPIA: Refugees in Kenya begin returning home <p>

UNHCR on Monday began the voluntary repatriation of over 2,500 Ethiopian refugees living in the Dadaab camps of northeastern Kenya. In a statement received by IRIN, UNHCR said the first 98 refugees were airlifted to the border town of Moyale in an operation that is expected to last five weeks. Over 50,000 Ethiopians fled to Kenya in 1991 following the collapse of the Mengistu regime as well as severe famine, UNHCR said. Many of them have steadily returned home.

UGANDA: LRA issues manifesto <p>

The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has issued a manifesto setting out its aims, the 'Monitor' newspaper reported on Wednesday. Labelling President Yoweri Museveni "a typical notorious third world dictator", the manifesto states the LRA's objective is to "stop the oppression of our people, especially the torture and marginalisation of some tribes in Uganda". The LRA's secretary for political affairs, David Nyekorach Matsanga, told the 'Monitor' his movement was now in a position to match Museveni's "propaganda machine".

Nairobi, 20 November 1998


Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 17:18:22 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 47-98 1998.11.20 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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