Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 35-97, 12/19/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 35-97, 12/19/97

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 35-97 covering the period 12-18 Dec 1997

RWANDA: International condemnation of Mudende massacre

The international community responded with outrage to an attack by Hutu rebels last Thursday on a refugee camp at Mudende in northwestern Rwanda in which over 300 Congolese Tutsis died - many of them macheted and axed to death. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata described the slaughter as "barbaric" and the EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Emma Bonino condemned it as an "act of cowardice". UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded that "the security of vulnerable refugees be respected". US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was in Rwanda when the massacre took place, ordered a US specialist on crimes against humanity to help in the investigation of the killings. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent-Desire Kabila demanded an international inquiry.

Concern over state of human rights

International concern was also expressed over the general state of human rights in Rwanda. Bonino called for "more national and international energies and resources (to) be devoted to reconciliation and peace-building" while the President of the Security Council urged the government to respect all human rights. Kigali accused the international community of being partly to blame for the Mudende massacre by failing to halt the regional arms trade and called for the punishment of those who assisted the rebels.

Rwanda/DRC discuss fate of refugees

In the wake of the Mudende attack, Rwandan and DRC government delegations met to decide on the options of repatriation, relocation or resettlement of the refugees in Rwanda. The continued insecurity in Gisenyi prefecture was underscored by a raid at the weekend by rebels on the Nkamira transit centre - to where thousands of the Mudende survivors had fled - which was repulsed by the army. Three rebels were also killed in an abortive grenade attack on the convoy of Rwandan and DRC interior ministers who were visiting Mudende and Nkamira. Mudende sheltered some 17,000 refugees.

EU special envoy to discuss Rwanda with Meles, Salim

The EU Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Aldo Ajello arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim. The talks were expected to focus on Rwanda, AFP said. Meles recently suggested that the OAU set up a panel to analyse the response of the international community to the Rwandan genocide. Ajello was in Kigali this week for talks with the authorities on the country's security situation.

Army clashes with rebels fleeing Bukavu

Kigali radio reported a clash last Thursday in southwestern Rwanda between the army and a 500-strong rebel group that had crossed from the DRC. According to security sources, the rebels were part of a combined force of Mai-Mai, ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia that were driven out of Bukavu after attacking the town. The report said the rebels fled into the forest around Cyangugu after an exchange of fire with the army, but gave no casualty figures.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN probe team quits Mbandaka

The UN human rights investigation team to the DRC was evacuated from Mbandaka at the weekend owing to "serious security concerns" arising from a demonstration outside their camp. A UN spokesman in New York said the situation would be assessed before a decision to return to Mbandaka was made. Non-violent protests also took place when the UN mission attempted to start work at an alleged massacre site at Wendji, 25 km from Mbandaka. Local traditional leaders had demanded money and supplies as a condition for allowing the investigation to proceed.

Zairean generals arrested in South Africa over anti-Kabila plot

Three senior military figures in the Mobutu regime, allegedly plotting to overthrow the DRC government, were arrested near Johannesburg on Saturday, the South African news agency SAPA reported. The three generals, Mavua Madima, Kpama Baramoto and Ngbane Nzimbi, are being held on charges relating to entering the country with illegal passports. They had left for the DRC on Friday and returned to South Africa the following day. Foreign ministry spokesman Marco Boni said no formal request for the men's extradition had yet been received.

Cholera outbreak kills 38 near Kisangani

Humanitarian sources reported that 38 people have died in a cholera outbreak in Kapalata, 5 km from Kisangani. The epidemic is currently killing an estimated seven people per day, with some 800 cases observed since 18 November. Humanitarian agencies are attempting to improve the sanitary conditions at Kisangani hospital and provide equipment and medicine. Access to the military camp in Kapalata has, however, been denied.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Angolan troops to leave "as soon as possible"

Congo-Brazzaville leader Denis Sassou Nguesso said on a visit to Paris this week that Angolan troops that helped him to power in October would leave the country "as soon as possible". "The causes which justified the presence of these soldiers are starting to disappear," he told Radio France Internationale. Speaking after an hour-long meeting with French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, Sassou Nguesso also said questions of national reconciliation and elections would be discussed at a forum in Brazzaville next month. Meanwhile, supporters of ex-president Pascal Lissouba described the forum as a "masquerade" organised by "dictatorial" forces and said they would boycott the meeting.

Sassou Nguesso meets Elf boss

AFP reported Sassou Nguesso also met Philipe Jaffre, the head of the French oil company Elf-Aquitaine. He said after the talks his government was "looking at financial questions, the price of crude, sales, and earnings for Congo." He noted: "there's no secret, we are also looking at the important question of secured loans," and added: "the Lissouba government borrowed nearly 3.5 billion francs (US $600 million) against Congo's oil assets. These are large sums with very heavy servicing terms which seriously undermine the state's wealth."

ANGOLA: Dos Santos and Savimbi discuss peace process

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and former rebel leader Jonas Savimbi have exchanged letters over the countries stalled peace process. On Monday, the pair held a telephone conversation to discuss a planned face-to-face meeting and the extension of state administration into UNITA's strongholds of Andulu and Bailundo, UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told a press briefing in New York yesterday. Both men have pledged to meet in Angola by the end of December, AFP reported.

Security improves in "sensitive" areas

The UN peacekeeping mission in Angola, MONUA, on Wednesday said security has improved in the most "sensitive" areas of the country, notably the northeastern diamond fields. According to the United Nations, the government now has complete control of five out of Angola's 15 provinces - the northern provinces of Bengo, Zaire and Kwanza-Norte, and the southern provinces of Benguela and Huila. A MONUA spokesman told AFP that UNITA retains fighters and military and political structures in the other 10 provinces.

3,000 flee Cabinda clashes

At least 3,000 people have fled clashes between separatists and the army in the north of the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda, AFP quoted "reliable sources"
in Luanda as saying. The displaced have been arriving in Cabinda city since the start of the month. The sources said military activity by various factions of the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front (FLEC) has increased in recent weeks.

BURUNDI: Rights group deplores allegations of army brutality

A report on the plight of Burundian refugees in Tanzania by Refugees International has condemned alleged human rights abuses by the Burundian army. The US-based rights group cited interviews with recently arrived refugees from eastern Burundi who accused the army of executions of family members, the round-up of men in the communes and the burning of homes and fields. The "allegations together paint a compelling picture of a citizenry being terrorised by the army," the report released Monday said.

Supreme Court asked to overturn Minani's election as FRODEBU leader

Burundi's interior ministry has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the nomination of the exiled opposition leader Jean Minani as the head of the mainly Hutu Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU), the ministry said Wednesday. Tanzania-based Minani, who the government accuses of supporting Hutu rebels, was elected leader at a party congress on 6 December. FRODEBU Secretary-General Augustin Nzojibwami said the party would win the legal battle "absolutely."

SUDAN-EGYPT: Beshir's planned Cairo visit signals possible rapprochement

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir will travel "soon" to Egypt amid growing signs that Cairo and Khartoum want to improve strained relations, AFP reported. Bashir's visit would follow rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang's trip this month to Cairo, and Albright's meeting last week in Uganda with Garang and other leaders of the Sudan opposition after which she called for the "isolation" of Khartoum.

Machar claims victory in battle with SPLA near Torit

Pro-government forces claimed victory in a clash with the SPLA in southern Sudan's East Equatoria province. Riak Machar, the chairman of the South Sudan Coordination Council, said in a statement that the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) on Tuesday captured the Solora mountain area near Torit and inflicted heavy losses on the SPLA. The SSDF groups the militiamen of six south Sudanese factions allied to the government.

UGANDA: Flooding wreaks havoc

In a preliminary damage assessment, the UN Disaster Management Team says flooding/landslides in Uganda have claimed at least 33 lives, affected 50,000 people, ruined 3,500 mt of maize and 2,000 hectares of farm land. A report released by DHA Geneva on Friday noted that eight bridges have been confirmed destroyed and some 31 rail wagons loaded with WFP food stranded at Malaba, on the Kenyan side of the border. A WFP report also said that road conditions have "seriously deteriorated" in western Uganda, cutting off the town of Bundibugyo and hampering food deliveries to 55,000 displaced.

UGANDA/KENYA: Cholera cases rise

The number of cholera patients in Kampala's Mulago Hospital has hit 100, the official 'New Vision' reported. It quoted the hospital director as saying the epidemic is spreading rapidly due to the heavy rains, and extra beds were needed to set up emergency field clinics in the areas of the city struck by the outbreak. Meanwhile, a Kenyan MP has blamed the Nairobi City council for the outbreak of cholera in the capital which has claimed at least 30 lives in the past week, the official 'Kenya Times' reported. The worst-hit areas are the Korogocho and Mathare slums. Meanwhile, the privately-owned 'Daily Nation' said the cholera death toll in the Coast province has risen to 66.

US-GREAT LAKES: Albright dispenses aid and encouragement

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a whirlwind visit of the Great Lakes region to meet the "new generation" of African leaders and to strengthen trade ties. In Rwanda last Thursday she pledged US support to Kigali and said the country's future was critical to the region. She noted that Washington had pledged US $3.9 million in aid for army demobilisation, the education of repatriated refugees and the promotion of democracy.

In Kinshasa on Friday she said the US was working on a US $35-40 million infrastructure rehabilitation package for the DRC on top of a US $10 million contribution through a World Bank trust fund. The package would be prepared jointly with Congress which has demanded human rights guarantees from Kinshasa. In Luanda, Albright said Washington was committed to supporting a regional role for Angola, and criticised UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi for stalling the country's peace process. She announced a US $20 million loan to the government and said she was discussing a US $350 million package to support the purchase of US equipment by the state oil company Sonangol.

Nairobi, 19 December 1997 9:40 gmt


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Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 15:13:42 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 35-97 12-18 Dec 1997 97.12.19 Message-ID: <>

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

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