Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 299, 11/25/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 299, 11/25/97

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IRIN Update No. 299 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 25 November 1997)

BURUNDI: Thousands displaced as army battles rebels in south

The Burundi army announced 103 rebels were killed and ammunition seized in an operation mounted by the security forces in the southern Bururi province. Speaking over Burundi radio yesterday (Monday), military spokesman Colonel Isaie Nibizi said the operation was carried out over the weekend along the Dama river between the communes of Buyengero and Burambi. Two soldiers were slightly wounded. "Events are progressing positively," he said. WFP reported over 10,000 people had been displaced by recent fighting in Buyengero commune, fleeing ongoing rebel activities and military operations in the surrounding hills and forests. It said they were completely destitute, sleeping rough under trees or in the local church.

Pressure mounts for lifting sanctions

The chairman of the Eastern and Southern Africa Business Organisation (ESABO) has called on the regional economic grouping COMESA to lift the embargo on Burundi because of the "devastating consequences" for member states, PANA news agency reported yesterday. Kassim Owango said that while members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) had stopped trading with Burundi, other business competitors such as China and South Africa had taken over the market. Earlier this month, COMESA itself described the sanctions as futile and urged an end to the embargo. The human rights organisation, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, ended a conference in Senegal yesterday with a call for lifting economic sanctions.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN team still waiting in Kinshasa

The UN team investigating allegations of human rights violations in DRC is still in Kinshasa. Spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN the mission was still waiting for the "technical meeting" with DRC leaders to take place. The government had not yet indicated when the meeting might be held, he said. Team leaders have been waiting to meet government representatives to discuss the logistics of the mission including security in the field, without which the investigation cannot take place. A meeting planned earlier this month was postponed.

Editor arrested for "spying" for UN

The DRC authorities have arrested a newspaper editor for allegedly "spying" for the UN mission. Bonsange Yema, managing editor of the 'Mambenga', 'Essor Africain' and 'l'Alarme' newspapers, was arrested in Kisangani on 18 November, according to 'l'Alarme'. The newspaper said the human rights group Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) called on Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo to order the "unconditional release" of Bonsange. ASF was reported as saying it had received "more and more alarming reports about the situation of human rights activists, aid workers and journalists in the east of the country". Meanwhile, another detained newspaper editor, Polydor Muboyayi Mubanga, of 'Le Phare' was released last week.

Authorities worried by growing insecurity in the Kivus

Security in the Kivus is again giving cause for concern, according to the official Agence congolaise de presse (ACP). Quoting businessmen in Bukavu, it said Lake Kivu remained the only secure channel for commercial trade between North and South Kivu. Road travel between Goma and Bukavu was particularly risky in the Minova area due to the presence of Mai-Mai fighters "who do not want to see anyone of Nilotic extraction in their way", the news agency reported. It added the South Kivu governor had noted that while some Mai-Mai had been integrated into the regular army, others had allied themselves with Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR members. The Lugushwa and Kitutu areas in the Mwenga zone of South Kivu had recently been subjected to acts of violence by Mai-Mai forces.

Ugandan rebels reportedly control border area

ACP also quoted local officials as saying the Banyangala area of Ruwenzori in North Kivu was under the control of National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) rebels. It said the rebels were taking advantage of the absence of the DRC army in the area, where the Ugandan shilling is the currency in use. The North Kivu governor has given local people, thought to be associated with NALU rebels, two weeks to turn themselves in before the start of military "clean-up" operation planned for the Ruwenzori area. NALU is thought to come under the umbrella of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who are active in western Uganda.

UGANDA: Cooperation with DRC in routing rebels

The state-owned 'New Vision' newspaper reported today (Tuesday) the DRC and Ugandan armies would launch a joint military operation to fight rebels along their common border. Military commanders from the two countries toured the western Ugandan districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibugyo where ADF rebels have been carrying out attacks. The Ugandan army claims the rebels are able to stage raids on border areas by passing through sparsely-populated parts of eastern DRC.

More die in floods

The death toll from severe flooding in the eastern Mbale district has risen to 35, the 'New Vision' reported yesterday. Bridges have been swept away, and electricity and running water supplies disrupted.

TANZANIA: UNICEF concerned over Burundian round-up

UNICEF in Tanzania has expressed concern over the situation of Burundian women and children who are being rounded up by the Tanzanian authorities and taken to refugee camps in the Kigoma and Kagera regions. It said families, who had been living in villages in the region for some 20 years, were being separated as a result of the operation. UNICEF stated it was assessing cases of rights violations against children and women, who were Tanzanian by law, but had been treated as illegal immigrants. According to an article in the 'EastAfrican' weekly, the Tanzanian government had denied there was deliberate operation to expel Burundians from the country, saying the exercise was a "military surveillance" of border areas for "security reasons". The weekly quoted a US diplomat as saying the move had "grossly marred" Tanzania's position as a peace-broker in the Burundi crisis.

Government denies Burundian government envoy expelled

Tanzanian Interior Minister Ali Amer Mohammed denied his government had expelled the Burundi government's only representative in the country. In an interview with the BBC's Kirundi service, he claimed Clavera Maregeya was asked to leave the country after the authorities discovered she had no accreditation. The minister also denied reports she had been manhandled by policemen who went to arrest her.

Cholera deaths on the rise

The daily 'Uhuru' newspaper reported yesterday at least 26 people died of cholera in the southern Tanzanian region of Mtwara between 10-16 November. The regional medical officer of Mtwara, Jamal Mbaya, was quoted as saying the latest deaths brought to 254 the number of people killed by cholera in the area during the past six months. In the central Singida district, 11 people had died of the disease out of 157 who contracted it. AFP said cholera had also resurfaced in Dar es Salaam, where some 56 people had been admitted to hospital since August.

SUDAN: Garang in Egypt

Sudanese rebel leader John Garang arrived in Cairo yesterday on his first visit to Egypt since becoming leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), AFP reported. It quoted a spokesman for the Sudanese opposition National Democratic Alliance as saying Garang was on a weeklong visit aimed at explaining the SPLA position to Egyptian leaders. The spokesman, Faruq Abu al-Issa, admitted Garang's call for a confederation in Sudan "raised concern in Egypt" which was opposed to division of the country, but stressed the visit would "help clear the air".He added that contacts were underway for Garang to visit other Arab countries which have expressed concern over the separation of state and religion and self-determination for southern Sudan. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammad Taha meanwhile told parliament yesterday his country was taking steps to normalise ties with Egypt. These measures would be announced "in the very near future", he said.

Nairobi, 25 November 1997, 14:00 gmt


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Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 16:54:49 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 299 97.11.25 Message-ID: <>

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

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