IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 49-98 1998.12.4

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 49-98 1998.12.4

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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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 49-98 covering the period 27 Nov-3 Dec 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels sceptical over Paris ceasefire accord

Rebels in DRC and their main backers reacted with scepticism to a ceasefire accord reached in Paris on Saturday among some countries involved in the conflict. Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba told news agencies on Sunday that the rebels' exclusion from the peace talks jeapordised implementation of the truce. He said his forces would go on fighting until the agreement was clarified.The RCD's main demand remained face-to-face talks with the Kinshasa government.

Rebel faction leader Jean-Pierre Bemba said on Tuesday his forces would also continue fighting despite the Paris agreement. Bemba, leader of the northern Equateur province based Mouvement de liberation congolais, told Reuters he was fighting for the total liberation of the country.

Informed sources in contact with Aketi in Province Orientale told IRIN the town was seized by Ugandan soldiers in early November after three days of heavy fighting with Kinshasa-allied Chadian troops. This contradicts earlier claims made by Bemba that his fighters had taken the town. The sources said Bemba was flown to Aketi in a Ugandan army helicopter two days after it was captured. The sources added that Ugandan soldiers played the major role in the rebel capture of several other towns in the region, including Banalia on 7 September and Dulia on 29 October.

Museveni wants security guarantees

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said at a news conference on Saturday that Kampala would withdraw its troops as soon as arrangements were in place to cater for Uganda's security concerns, state radio reported. Meanwhile, his defence minister, Amama Mbabazi, has downplayed the significance of the ceasefire. He told AFP that the deal had broken "no new ground". Mbabazi said that while foreign countries with forces in the DRC may have agreed to a truce, that did not mean an immediate ceasefire as the war was between Congolese combatants.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said allied forces backing the Kinshasa government were prepared to pull out to make way for a UN and OAU peacekeeping force, the South African news agency, SAPA, reported. He, however, suggested the OAU December meeting could be premature, not giving enough time for ceasefire details to be hammered out.

Annan offers help in supervising ceasefire

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday the United Nations could help in a peacekeeping role in DRC if all sides respected the deal. Annan helped French President Jacques Chirac broker the deal at a meeting with the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and DRC.

Population movements in Katanga

Lubumbashi is currently hosting about 6,000 displaced persons and the influx into the city is continuing, humanitarian sources told IRIN this week. A UN official in Kinshasa said that about 600 displaced persons are staying in two sites in Lubumbashi where they are receiving food and medical assistance from ICRC and MSF-Belgium. The rest are living with local families, the official said following a UN assessment mission to Lubumbashi this week. The extra burden placed on host families is a source of growing concern, he said, adding that much of the local population had already been facing food shortages and serious economic difficulties. Some of the displaced have crossed into Zambia and reentered the DRC to reach Lubumbashi. Others are arriving from the north by train.

Food aid distributions are coming to a halt in Kinshasa as emergency stocks become depleted, the weekly WFP report said. Traders are facing difficulties in sending supplies to Kinshasa, aggravating the unstable food situation, the report added. Only 16 mt of food were distributed in Kinshasa over the past week. WFP's operation in the city targets about 120,000 vulnerable people.

BURUNDI: Twenty killed in displaced camp

About 20 people were killed and 33 others injured on Wednesday in a rebel attack on a camp for Hutu displaced persons in Bubanza province. Quoting an army spokesman, news agencies said the attack on the camp, located at Gihungwe about 20 km north of Bujumbura, was the second since 23 November.

Meanwhile, the army has launched an operation to "chase out" rebel groups trying to occupy areas of Bujumbura-rural and Bururi, AFP said on Thursday. Local authorities have said rebel groups have recently infiltrated from Tanzania adding that two military positions about 15 km south of the capital were attacked by rebels on Sunday.

Curfew and travel restrictions imposed in southwest

Humanitarian sources in Burundi told IRIN that a dusk-to-dawn curfew had been imposed in some towns of Bururi and Makamba provinces and that weapons had been distributed to some of the local population. The authorities have advised aid agencies not to travel by road to Nyanza-Lac and other areas of the southwest, the sources added.

Nyerere ready to propose end to sanctions

Former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere is prepared to propose that regional sanctions against Burundi be suspended, Reuters reported. British International Development Secretary Clare Short said Nyerere, facilitator of the Burundi peace process, was ready to recommend the lifting of sanctions at the next round of talks in Arusha, Tanzania. Short told Reuters that Nyerere informed European Union development ministers of his position in Brussels on Sunday.

RWANDA: 76 genocide suspects freed

The Kigali authorities have released 76 genocide suspects from prison because of insufficient evidence. Those freed are among the first of 10,000 genocide suspects the government has decided to set free due to lack of evidence of incomplete files, the private Rwanda News Agency reported. The release decision has angered genocide survivors who fear the ex-detainees could kill potential witnesses. The suspects themselves fear revenge attacks.

A Hutu rebel officer was killed and another taken prisoner in the town of Rushashi, AFP reported. The two men were part of a band of scouts reconnoitering the area. A member of a civil defence unit was killed in the clash. Meanwhile, the Kigali authorities announced this week the demobilisation of 3,600 soldiers as part of a donor-backed scheme to cut the size of the army to around 25,000 men by 2001. Rwandan radio said the demobilised soldiers include the aged, the disabled and those who had volunteered.

SUDAN: WFP barges depart for Juba along Nile

A WFP barge convoy left the port of Kosti on Monday to deliver emergency food aid to some 392,000 people along the Nile river corridor. In a statement received this week by IRIN, WFP said the convoy was scheduled to distribute 2,500 mt of food to people in 33 locations in both rebel- and government-held areas before arriving in Juba in early January.

Turabi resigns as speaker

Sudan's influential speaker of parliament Hassan Turabi resigned to work full time for the ruling National Congress party, media reports say. His resignation is not expected to reduce his role as the principal Islamic ideologue of the military-backed government of President Omar al-Beshir. AP quoted political analysts as saying his stepping down is a government attempt to appease the opposition before legalising political "associations" next year.

Government recaptures border towns

Sudan said on Monday its troops recaptured two positions from rebel forces near the Eritrean border, news agencies reported. A government communique said the retaking of Teluk and Toqan near Kassala town follows the recapture in the last two weeks of Aqeitai and Itairbah in Red Sea state.

Nairobi, 4 December 1998 13:00 GMT


Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 15:21:57 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 49-98 1998.12.4

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,