Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 5-98 23-29 Jan 98.1.30

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 5-98 23-29 Jan 98.1.30

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 5-98 covering the period 23-29 Jan 1998

BURUNDI: Defence minister killed in helicopter crash

Burundi's Defence Minister Firmin Sinzoyiheba was killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday as he headed for a reconciliation meeting in Gitega with various parties to the country's conflict. Three other people were also killed in the crash. The helicopter went down in bad weather in the Gihinga mountains in Muramvya province.

Four-day mourning period declared

The Burundian authorities declared a four-day mourning period following Sinzoyiheba's death. In a statement, broadcast by Burundi radio, Prime Minister Pascal-Firmin Ndimira said investigations into the cause of the accident were underway. He called on Burundians to remain calm and ordered the security services to remain vigilant "so that the enemy does not take advantage".

PALIPEHUTU warns of imminent attack on Bujumbura

The rebel group Parti pour la liberation du peuple hutu (PALIPEHUTU) has warned foreigners to leave Bujumbura "before it's too late", saying its objective is to take the city. In a press release, the organisation said its armed wing - the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) - was responsible for the New Year attack on the Bujumbura airport and claims by the other main rebel group - the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) - were false.

Regional meeting slated for Kampala

Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama announced that a regional foreign ministers' meeting on Burundi would be held in Kampala next month, according to Tanzanian radio. Speaking in Arusha where he attended an international seminar on conflict resolution, Rukingama said mediator Julius Nyerere would also take part in the Kampala meeting.

In Arusha, Nyerere said the Burundi government was obstructing the peace process. In remarks at the end of the conflict resolution meeting last Friday, he claimed he was being used as a scapegoat by the Burundi authorities who have accused him of bias.

RWANDA: Weekend violence claims more victims

More violence in northwest Rwanda last weekend killed 12 people, the Rwandan News Agency reported. Major Augustin Gashayija told the agency clashes broke out after between 300-400 rebels launched an attack on Kinigi commune in Ruhengeri prefecture on Saturday morning. Two rebels, two soldiers and eight civilians were reportedly killed.

Ngeze attempts suicide

Genocide suspect, Hassan Ngeze, standing trial in Arusha, tried to commit suicide on Saturday, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced. Ngeze, a former editor of the extremist Hutu publication 'Kangura', is being held at the ICTR's detention facilities and was found lying unconscious on the bed in his cell during a routine patrol. After urgent medical treatment, he regained consciousness and is reported to be in a stable condition. He admitted to swallowing a mixture of chemical agents, including detergent given to detainees to clean their own quarters.

Kagame suggests ways to curb prison overcrowding

Vice-President Paul Kagame has proposed measures to solve the problem of overcrowding in Rwanda's jails. Addressing the Rwandan community in Brussels last week, he noted the government was spending US $20 million per year to accommodate over 100,000 genocide suspects in the prisons. "We cannot continue to shoulder this burden and organisations assisting us are getting weary," he said. Kagame suggested putting on trial and executing the "masterminds". Second category criminals should be sentenced to "public work" and other criminals should be handed to "traditional courts" which would deal with the cases. Kagame added that these proposals would be submitted to a referendum, but did not say when it would be held.

DRC refugees evacuated from Gisenyi

UNHCR last Thursday evacuated 164 Congolese Tutsi refugees by air from Gisenyi to Kigali because of continuing insecurity in the region. Many of them had been in Gisenyi hospital, recuperating from wounds sustained in the December rebel attack on Mudende refugee camp. The refugees were then trucked on to the Gihembe camp in Bymuba, northeast Rwanda.

Refugees must come home, official says

The government repeated its view that all Rwandan refugees should return home. The Rwandan News Agency (RNA) reported the chairman of the repatriation commission, Mr Kabayija, as saying the government would leave "no stone unturned" to ensure all refugees whether innocent or not returned to the country. Meanwhile, AFP quoted Social Affairs Minister Aloysia Inyumba as saying her government would soon hold round-table talks with UNHCR to discuss the situation of refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Death sentences must be executed: prosecutor-general

Prosecutor-General Simeon Rwagasore has said that in the context of Rwanda, death sentences must be carried out "so that Rwandans understand the life of a person cannot be trampled on". "Killers have been pardoned throughout Rwanda's history," he said, in an interview with AFP. "Social and political conflicts have been settled using machetes and this has to change. One can always debate using the death penalty to serve as an example, but Rwanda is a unique case." According to AFP, quoting official figures, 108 people have so far been condemned to death at ongoing genocide trials in Rwanda. They have the right of appeal, but official sources told AFP it was likely some death sentences would be carried out in the near future. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Troops riot over no pay in Matadi, Boma

Soldiers rioted in two DRC port towns last Thursday after senior officers allegedly embezzled their pay, Reuters quoted security sources as saying. Military police reinforcements were flown to the main Atlantic port of Matadi and Boma further west and brought the situation under control. Soldiers began shooting in the air on Wednesday evening in Matadi, 350 km west of Kinshasa, and looted businesses. The protests spread to Boma. Several officers are believed to have been arrested.

Diamond prospectors flee Angola

Meningitis has broken out among DRC diamond miners returning home from Angola. Health Minister Jean-Baptiste Sondji told Reuters at least 15 of the returnees had died. He said a medical team would be sent to vaccinate 70,000 people in the area around the diamond trading centre of Tembo, 400 km from Kinshasa, to contain the epidemic. According to the World Health Organisation, 40 people died of meningitis between 16 and 19 January in the Tembo mining area of DRC's Bandundu province. A total of 87 cases were registered in that period.

Sondji said several thousand miners had returned to the DRC after UNITA transferred control of the mines in Cuando Valley earlier this month to the government. Sondji said the miners were fleeing a government offensive to capture the diamond-rich Lunda province from UNITA. Aid workers however said the refugees had been expelled by UNITA.

Mining deals cancelled

Reuters reported on Monday the DRC government had cancelled mining research deals signed five months ago with 12 foreign companies. In a statement the mines ministry announced that "exclusive research zones" granted to the companies "are retaken by the state". The statement also threatened to scrap preliminary agreements signed with other firms.

21 people executed in Kinshasa

Twenty-one people accused of murder and armed robbery were executed by firing squad at the Tshatshi military camp in Kinshasa on Tuesday, DRC radio reported. It said the victims were both civilians and soldiers whose appeals were rejected by President Laurent-Desire Kabila. In a statement, the military tribunal which issued the sentences said the executions should be seen "as a solemn warning to any potential delinquent..."

Kabila blames Mai-Mai for Kivu insecurity

Kabila met local leaders in Bukavu on Monday during which they discussed the security situation in South Kivu. DRC radio broadcasting from Bukavu reported Kabila as saying tension in the area had been exacerbated by the "Mai-Mai phenomenon".

MSF urges action over Kapalata camp

MSF has called for urgent action to deal with a cholera outbreak in the Kapalata camp near Kisangani. It said an average of 20 patients per day were transferred from the camp to an MSF treatment centre. Of these, 64 percent were malnourished and 45 percent severely malnourished.Congolese Health Minister Jean-Baptiste Sondji visited the camp this week and promised inmates would be transferred to a better site with access to clean drinking water, good sanitation and a supply of food.

IMF team visiting Kinshasa

The IMF has said it is willing to help the DRC government with monetary reform, but it will not resume any financing because of the country's debt arrears, AFP reported. Paul Akwa, the head of an IMF mission currently visiting Kinshasa, said his organisation wanted to assist DRC in implementing a reconstruction programme.

KENYA: Rift Valley violence escalates

The Kenyan government issued a statement condemning "acts of lawlessness and irresponsibility" in Rift Valley province where over 70 people are believed to have been killed in ethnic clashes. Meanwhile, 21 diplomatic missions in Nairobi urged the government to take "prompt and effective" action to end the unrest. The statement said the violence invoked memories of the "politically-motivated ethnic clashes of the early 1990s and more recent attacks at the Coast". It said the violence was sending a "very negative message" to the rest of the world and detracted from the country's ability to meet current economic challenges. Police Commissioner Duncan Wachira said on Wednesday 33 people had been arrested in connection with the violence, primarily between Kikuyu and Kalenjin, in the Njoro area and dismissed reports security forces had not been given clear instructions. On Thursday, President Daniel arap Moi called for an end to the hostilities and accused the opposition of making "inflammatory remarks" which fuelled the conflict.

Sugar, coffee production to fall

The agriculture ministry has warned Kenya's sugar and coffee production are set to fall this year due to poor weather and a collapsing infrastructure, KTN reported. Sugar production was estimated at 350,000 mt, down from 390,000 mt last year due mainly to the fact cane had not been collected owing to the poor state of roads. In addition, some of the cane collected has a low sugar content. Consumption is estimated at 560,000 mt.

TANZANIA: Hundreds in urgent need of assistance

Hundreds of people in northwest Tanzania are in urgent need of food and shelter after floods swept away their homes and destroyed crops, Tanzanian radio, monitored by the BBC, reported. It quoted Kagera regional commissioner Mohammad Babu as saying Misenyi area in Bukoba district was worst-affected.

KENYA-SOMALIA: WFP appeals for US $12 million

Meanwhile, WFP said on Tuesday its operations for 1.1 million flood victims in Kenya and Somalia were threatened by a lack of funding. WFP has already spent most of the US $5.8 million received from donors so far in the operations which began in response to heavy rains battering the region since last October. A further US $12 million is needed to keep operations running until the end of March, WFP said.

Note to Subscribers: DHA becomes OCHA

The United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), as part of its reform, has officially become the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, assumed his functions in New York as head of OCHA in January 1998. He will be assisted by Mr Martin Griffiths, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Nairobi, Friday 30 January


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Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 14:14:20 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 5-98 23-29 Jan 98.1.30 Message-ID: <>

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

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