IRIN Weekly Round-up 2-98 covering the period 2 Jan-8 Jan 1998

IRIN Weekly Round-up 2-98 covering the period 2 Jan-8 Jan 1998

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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 2-98 covering the period 2 Jan-8 Jan 1998

BURUNDI: Rebels strike twice near airport

Rebels launched a second attack on a military position near Bujumbura airport early on Tuesday, news organisations reported. According to humanitarian sources, the attack took place in the village of Maramvya, just north of the airport. Previously, some 7,000 people had fled the Rukaramu area around the airport following a first rebel attack on New Year's Eve. Army spokesman Colonel Sinarinzi Mamert was quoted by AFP as saying the death toll from that attack, initially put at 200 including both civilians and rebels, could in fact be much higher. AFP quoted the administrator of Mutimbizi commune near the capital as saying thousands of people were in need of assistance after fleeing the attacks. Jean Baptiste Gatabaruke said "nearly 15,000" had fled their homes and were in a "catastrophic" situation. UNHCR put the figure at nearer 8,000. Burundi radio reported survivors were also have to deal with an outbreak of malaria.

CNDD denies massacre charges, calls for international probe

The rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) denied government allegations it was responsible for any massacre of civilians. Reuters quoted CNDD's Brussels-based spokesman Jerome Ndiho as blaming the army for killings which followed the surprise New Year's Eve attack on the military garrison at Gakumba near Bujumbura airport. He said the attack was strictly limited to military targets and aimed at preventing the arrival of a consignment of weapons for the army. CNDD warned airlines of the "great risk" they ran if they broke a regional embargo by transporting arms to Burundi. Later in the week, CNDD called for an international enquiry to "determine the responsibilities of the army and thus clear the fighters of the FDD (Forces pour la defense de la democratie) of the unspeakable slander directed against them." Meanwhile, President Pierre Buyoya on Sunday called for world condemnation of the New Year's Eve attack. Speaking at the funerals of some 80 victims, he said the international community should abandon its "traditional lethargy".

Bujumbura residents urged to stay calm

The authorities in Burundi urged residents of Bujumbura not to panic following the attacks. Defence ministry spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isaie Nibizi, speaking on Burundi radio, said residents should remain vigilant, but said the security forces were able to protect them. "The city is very well guarded," he said. In addition, the suburbs were being patrolled. According to the radio, he expressed the belief that the rebels were on a campaign to spread confusion and the population should not play into their hands. The radio added a total of 15 rebels were killed and three soldiers wounded in Tuesday's attack on Maramvya village.

Ogata condemns violence

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata on Wednesday condemned the escalating violence in Burundi, saying the attacks were aimed at destabilising areas where thousands of people had returned and were trying to restart their lives. "The current cycle of violence severely jeopardises returnees' security and the refugees' ability to return," she said in a statement. The UN's Great Lakes regional humanitarian adviser, Berhanu Dinka, arrived in Bujumbura on Monday for talks with top officials on the situation in the country. The OAU has also sent a three-man mission to Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania to help find a solution to Burundi's political crisis.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ministers told to return stolen goods

President Laurent-Desire Kabila moved to end corruption in the country. State-run radio reported on Monday the president had told ministers who illegally took private property, to return it or face dismissal. His demand came a few days after he reshuffled his cabinet, bringing in former Katanga governor Gaetan Kakudji as Minister of State for Internal Affairs. Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo was moved to the justice portfolio. Pierre-Victor Mpoyo becomes Minister of State for Economy and Petrol. The two state minister posts did not exist in the previous government. Justice Minister Celestin Lwangi was appointed International Cooperation Minister. Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwana Nanga becomes Agriculture Minister, and Tala Ngai comes into the cabinet as the new finance minister. Other changes include Agriculture Minister Paul Bandoma who takes the commerce portfolio and International Cooperation Minister Thomas Kanza who becomes Labour and Social Security Minister. The new cabinet includes three new faces, but no minister was dismissed. DRC radio pointed out the reshuffled team contains two ministers of state, 21 ministers and six deputy ministers. The new cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday and its members given 48 hours to comply with Kabila's request.

Soldiers executed in Bukavu

Two soldiers were executed in Bukavu on Tuesday for "criminal conspiracy and armed robbery", DRC radio reported. They had been sentenced earlier by a military court in the town. The public execution was witnessed by a large crowd of residents and the local authorities.

MSF concerned over situation in Kisangani camp, flood waters recede

MSF expressed concern over the situation at Kapalata camp in Kisangani following a visit there last month. It described the set-up as a closed military re-education camp for Mai-Mai warriors, holding about 4,000 people. Some 300 children were badly malnourished and no medicines were available, MSF said. MSF said it had been granted permission by the local authorities to set up a cholera camp, as cholera and dysentery were rife. UNICEF, meanwhile, reported a total of 211 deaths from cholera in the military camp.

Humanitarian sources reported that flood waters were receding in Kisangani and limited running water had been restored to a large part of the town. The restoration of electricity will take some two months as the installations have to be overhauled. Several small villages along the Congo river, such as Isangi, are still under water. Meanwhile, cases of bloody diarrhoea have been reported. Two people are said to have died.

Displaced people without assistance due to weather, insecurity

According to WFP, humanitarian agencies are banned from the area around Goma. As a result, an estimated 30,000 displaced Congolese in the Masisi area have been without food assistance since early November. Rain and insecurity have impeded access to the High Plateaux in the Uvira region, affecting some 35,000 people who are without assistance.

Repatriation from Tanzania on course

UNHCR said its operation to repatriate some 50,000 DRC refugees from Tanzania by June was still on course. The operation resumed last Friday, when 766 refugees were repatriated by boat across Lake Tanganyika. A second sailing, with about 700 refugees on board, took place on Monday.

Gecamines terminates international tender

DRC's state mining company Gecamines announced last week it had terminated an international tender awarded to the America Mineral Fields Inc. (AMF) by the-then rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. The tender, for mining a huge copper-cobalt project at the Kolwezi mine in Katanga province, was ended because Gecamines said it had expected substantial up-front payments. Analysts, quoted by Reuters, said one of the reasons for the move was a desire for additional funds. "What appears to have happened is that the government has reopened tenders because it hopes to get a better deal," one analyst said. Many international companies had rushed to secure deals with Kabila's rebels during the civil war last year.

Soldiers ransack offices of another publication

Soldiers occupied the premises of 'Le Moniteur de l'economie' and taken away equipment, the magazine said in a statement on Wednesday. According to AFP, the business magazine, recalling a similar ransacking last month of the 'Elima' newspaper premises, said: "Arbitrary acts of the sort we are deploring, seriously threaten freedom of the press, the foundation of democracy."

RWANDA: 52 reported dead in rebel attack

The death toll from a rebel attack on Tuesday in the central town of Nyakabanda rose to 52, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Most of the victims were said to be administrative officers and civilians,including seven children. The death toll had previously been put at 26. In another attack, rebels calling themselves the Rwandan Liberation Army, killed 14 people in the central western town of Nyabikenke. AFP quoted local officials as saying Monday's raid took the form of a four-pronged attack.The dead included two local administrators, one of whom was beheaded. The rebels, armed with guns and knives, looted parts of the town before leaving pamphlets warning that "all those we fight will be beheaded".

Ex-FAR officer gunned down

Military sources said a former Rwandan army officer, Major Modeste Rwabukwise, was killed by security forces last week in southwest Cyangugu province. The Rwanda News Agency (RNA) said Rwabukusi joined Hutu rebels preparing to invade Rwanda from eastern DRC following the 1994 genocide. He was reportedly shot dead in Gafunzo on the shore of Lake Kivu while attempting to flee to DRC.

Refugees facing food shortages

Tutsi refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing serious food shortages at their new camp in Byumba prefecture, according to Rwandan media reports. Some 15,000 survivors were transferred after last month's massacre in Mudende camp where they had been sheltering. One refugee is said to have died of starvation. However a UNHCR official, quoted by the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), said the refugees were receiving adequate rations and it was impossible for them to starve to death. RNA reported that food shortages in the camp were thought to be due to the fact that refugees were exchanging their rations for other, more costly, goods.

France to resume legal action against genocide suspect

A court in France ruled that legal action can resume against a Rwandan priest accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide, news reports said. Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka fled to France in the wake of the genocide where he was arrested in connection with the mass killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. France's supreme court overturned a ruling by a lower court that French courts did not have jurisdiction over the priest.

Meanwhile, the 'EastAfrican' newspaper reported that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was expected to deliver its first verdicts within the next three months. Sentences will be delivered on the trials of former mayor of Taba Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Interahamwe chief Georges Rutaganda, former prefect of Kibuye Clement Kayishema and Kigali businessman Obed Ruzindana. Under the ICTR's rules, prison terms will be served either in Rwanda or another country which has agreed to accept convicts, according to UN rules.

UGANDA: Museveni reshuffles armed forces

As part of an ongoing reshuffle in the armed forces, the government is planning to retire some 800 officers, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported this week. President Yoweri Museveni had changed the top army leadership, replacing army chief Major General Mugisha Muntu with Major General Jeje Odongo and chief-of-staff Brigadier Chefe Ali with Brigadier James Kazini who becomes acting COS. Sources said Chefe Ali was likely to go to DRC as Uganda's ambassador to strengthen ties between the two countries, the newspaper reported. More changes were expected, according to top military officials. AFP said the move was intended to modernise the armed forces, cut military spending and focus operations on fighting rebel insurgencies in the north and west of the country.

New defence minister appointed

Museveni also appointed his brother, Major Salim Saleh, as the country's defence minister, military sources said today, quoted by AFP. Saleh was previously Museveni's adviser on military affairs in the north. He replaces Amama Mbabazi who was moved to the president's office as minister of state for political affairs.

KENYA: Moi sworn in as president

President Daniel arap Moi was sworn in for another five-year term on Monday after he was officially declared the winner in presidential polls held on 29 December.

Rift Valley Fever killing people in northeast

The mystery disease in northeastern Kenya, which caused some 300 deaths, has been identified as Rift Valley Fever (RVF), according to press reports. The World Health Organisation said however the virus, detected at the National Institute of Virology in South Africa, may not be the only cause of death as some victims showed no evidence of RVF infection. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and primarily affects domestic animals such as cows, sheep and goats. Humans can be infected by contact with blood or body fluids from affected animals.

State nurses sacked, health services decentralised

The Kenyan authorities on Tuesday sacked all state nurses and laboratory technicians, who have been on strike for better pay since November. In addition, health services were decentralised. According to the 'Daily Nation', the move affects some 30,000 nurses who will now have to seek re-employment from their respective hospitals and not the health ministry. On Wednesday the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) gave the government three days to rescind its decision.

ANGOLA: Russia planning arms sales, newspaper says

Russia is planning to resume arms sales to Angola, according to the South African 'Star' daily. It cited a Russian newspaper as saying Angola was looking to buy modern weapons and superfluous Russian army property. Angola had apparently held talks with Russia about replenishing and repairing its fleet of MiG-23 planes, which numbered 55 in the late 1980s. Russia was a major arms supplier to Angola during its war against UNITA rebel forces.

Angola pledges military cooperation with Congo

Angola, meanwhile, said it would cooperate militarily with Congo-Brazzaville. Reuters quoted Angolan army spokesman Brigadier Jose Manuel Jota as saying Angola's armed forces were already supporting the Congolese "but we now have an official training programme". Jota admitted there were still Angolan troops in Congo, but could not say how many. Angolan forces helped Congolese leader Denis Sassou Nguesso in the country's recent civil war.

UN troops to go

Most UN troops are due to be pulled out of Angola by the end of this month. The troops had been overseeing a 1994 peace accord between the government and the ex-rebel UNITA movement. Reuters quoted UN spokesman in Luanda, Moktar Gueye, as saying the intention was to leave 500 soldiers in Angola for the protection of UN staff working in the country.

Nairobi, 9 January 1998, 13:00 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific