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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 10-98 covering the period 27 Feb-5 Mar 1998
RWANDA: Army battling rebels in Gitarama
Fighting broke out in central Gitarama prefecture over the weekend between rebels and the army, and continued into the week. An army spokesman said 100 rebels and eight soldiers had been killed. According to the Rwanda News Agency, the rebels tried to storm two prisons in Nyakabanda and Bulinga communes. A Reuters report said some 2,000 rebels freed about 600 genocide suspects from the prison in Bulinga and torched the mayor's house.
In further attacks, one person was killed and seven others wounded when rebels ambushed a minibus near Mushubati, Gitarama prefecture. In northwest Ruhengeri prefecture, four truck drivers working for the Bralirwa brewery were killed in a rebel ambush on their lorries, while five other civilians were also killed in a separate attack.
French parliament examines government's role in Rwanda
The French National Assembly's defence committee on Tuesday opened an inquiry into France's role in Rwanda in the run-up to the 1994 genocide, AFP reported. A statement from the office of defence committee chairman Paul Quiles said a panel of 10 MPs would take part in the inquiry on "military operations by France, other countries and the United Nations in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994." However, the defence committee stressed that the investigation is not a fully-fledged parliamentary inquiry that could result in legal proceedings, but rather a "fact-finding mission".
Rutaganda's trial resumes
The trial of Georges Rutaganda, a senior figure in the Interahamwe militia, resumed in Arusha on Wednesday. Rutaganda, whose defence counsel has expressed concern over the state of his health, appeared in court in a "very weakened state" according to Fondation Hirondelle. Rutaganda is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.
OAU to set up genocide investigation team
The OAU is to establish a team of seven eminent personalities to investigate the 1994 genocide, according to Rwandan radio. The announcement was made by Minister of State for Education Jean-Pierre Bizimana who recently returned from an OAU ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa. The meeting decided the team would expose how the genocide was planned, and who planned and executed it in a bid to prevent the reoccurrence of such atrocities, the radio said. While in Addis, Bizimana also appealed to countries harbouring genocide suspects to extradite them to Rwanda.
BURUNDI: FAO warns of impending famine
An FAO representative in Bujumbura has warned of impending famine in Burundi. "Famine is here...possibly to stay as production has dropped nationwide by more than 20 percent compared to normal years," Joseph Tchikaya told AFP. He said that if there was no supplementary food aid, malnutrition could intensify and many people risked death. Last Friday, Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama appealed for aid to help make up a shortfall of 300,000 mt of beans, rice and bananas.
Caritas says 20 people dying daily in Murago
Caritas says 20 people are dying per day in Murago, Bururi province, due to malnutrition and disease, according to a WFP report. The situation in the town is described as dramatic, with an average of 100 to 300 people arriving each day in a deplorable state, after wandering for months in forests and marshes. Caritas has requested urgent relief assistance to this displaced population estimated at 5,368 families totalling 37,500 people.
Buyoya visits DRC, Europe
President Pierre Buyoya arrived in Kinshasa on Sunday on a one-day working visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Speaking on Burundi radio before his departure, he said the purpose of the visit was to explore bilateral issues including security and cooperation. While in Kinshasa, he told DRC television his talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila had been fruitful. He also said his country was surviving and functioning despite a regional economic embargo. On Wednesday he arrived in Paris where he met Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin who called for lifting the embargo, saying much progress had been made in Burundi. Buyoya is also due to meet the Pope at the Vatican.
Soldiers sent to reinforce security near Bugarama
A battalion of 400 soldiers has been sent to reinforce security in Mubimbi commune, near Bugarama, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. It said at least 1,000 rebels had been "sowing terror" in the area for the past two weeks. The local population had reportedly split into two groups, one backing the rebels, the other cooperating with the military. The rebels had now withdrawn to the Muzazi Valley, but water supplies in the area were disrupted, ABP said, adding that the insurgents were trying to turn Bujumbura-Rural province into their stronghold because of its proximity to the capital.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: South Kivu still tense
Agence burundaise de presse quoted official sources as describing the situation in South Kivu as tense, which had resulted in people fleeing to Burundi. Some Banyamulenge people were said to be crossing into Cibitoke province and the Bujumbura municipality. Meanwhile, BBC radio's French service on Wednesday quoted official sources in Bukavu who said talks between the DRC army and Banyamulenge military leaders were proceeding well after reports that Banyamulenge soldiers had deserted. The road between Uvira and Bukavu is now open. However, 400 Banyamulenge soldiers have still not returned to barracks. According to the radio, they went to the Lemera mountains where they had regrouped and were now gathered, with their equipment, not far from Kamanyola on the border with Burundi and Rwanda. Many observers were pessimistic about the chances of finding a peaceful solution, the radio said.
At least 300 killed in Butembo: AZADHO
According to the DRC human rights group AZADHO, at least 300 people, including civilians, were killed in clashes between the DRC army and Mayi-Mayi rebels in Butembo last week. The rights group said the killings followed the army's recapture of the town from the rebels who had launched an attack on 20 February. Young men in particular were allegedly targeted by the army as Mayi-Mayi supporters.
UN team's mandate extended
The UN human rights investigation team has had the extension of its mandate approved by the Congolese government until 31 May. The team's spokesman Jose Diaz announced on Saturday that the approval was contained in a letter to the chief of mission, Atsu Koffi Amega.
Kapalata camp empty
Humanitarian sources told IRIN the remaining occupants of Kapalata military camp near Kisangani left on Saturday. A total of about 2,500 people, reportedly ex-FAZ and Mayi-Mayi fighters, have been medically screened and transferred to other sites. The camp is due to be cleaned up after an outbreak of cholera last year caused about 300 deaths.
SUDAN: Seven killed in government attack on Yei
Seven people were killed and 46 injured on Thursday when a Sudanese government aircraft bombed the southern town of Yei, aid workers and diplomats told IRIN. The Antonov plane made four runs over Yei in western Equatoria, dropping 13 bombs. Direct hits destroyed Yei hospital's operating theatre and blasted its bomb shelter. According to humanitarian sources, Yei was last bombed on 15 February when a nurse was among five people killed by shrapnel. Another hospital at Lubone, eastern Equatoria was bombed last Saturday.
UGANDA: Thousands fleeing rebels in Gulu
The state-owned 'New Vision' on Saturday reported that thousands of people, fleeing rebel activity in the northwest Gulu district, had taken refuge at Lacor hospital in Gulu town. During the day they returned to their homes, medical superintendent Matthew Lokwiya said. Between 3,000 and 7,000 people arrived every night, he said, adding that a group of 2,500 people had taken up permanent refuge at the hospital.
Clinton due in on 23 March
US President Bill Clinton is due in Kampala on 23 March, according to the 'New Vision'. It said a total of 500 rooms had been booked for the president's entourage. The visit will last until 25 March. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Rebecca Kadaga told AFP African heads of state would arrive in Kampala for a summit meeting with Clinton.
ANGOLA: Dos Santos warns of war over UNITA's deadline failure
Following UNITA's failure to meet Saturday's deadline to demobilise, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has written to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warning of a potential war situation, Angolan TV reported on Monday. Dos Santos called for international pressure on UNITA to change its attitude.
Luanda last week threatened "dire consequences" if UNITA did not fulfil all the requirements of the 1994 peace agreement by Saturday. The government and the UN have accused UNITA of dragging its heels over demobilising its army and returning all territory to government administration. According to Reuters, more than 3,000 UNITA troops have yet to be demobilised.
TANZANIA: Four districts quarantined in Rift Valley fever outbreak
The Tanzanian authorities have quarantined four northern areas after four confirmed deaths from Rift Valley fever, AFP quoted a local paper as reporting. The affected areas are Monduli, Ngorongoro and Simanjiro in Arusha district. Hai, in neighbouring Kilimanjaro district, has also been quarantined. The ministry of health warned people in areas bordering Kenya to be on their guard against the disease.
Cholera kills 25 in Mbeya region
At least 25 cholera deaths have been reported in Mbeya region, southwest Tanzania since January, according to Tanzanian radio. It quoted local medical officials as saying Mbarali district was worst-affected with a reported 23 deaths and 275 people hospitalised. AFP also reported that 69 people had died of cholera at a prison in the northwest town of Bukoba. The daily 'Mtanzania' said the disease had broken out last week, and the prison had now been placed under quarantine.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Kolelas sets up government-in-exile
Ousted prime minister Bernard Kolelas has set up a government-in-exile, known as the "constitutional government of the Republic of Congo". Faxes received by IRIN from the "prime minister's office" in Strasbourg and Brussels, announced the appointment of Jean-Claude Mayima as "the constitutional government's representative to the EU and the prime minister's adviser in charge of relations with the press".
GREAT LAKES: UN launches US $550 million consolidated
The UN last Friday launched a US $550 million Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for countries of the Great Lakes Region and Central Africa to meet the emergency needs of over five million people in 1998. The Appeal covers Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. A press release by OCHA said the humanitarian programme for Congo-Brazzaville is currently under preparation, and will be issued as an addendum this month.
Nairobi, 6 March 1998
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Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 11:47:45 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 10-98 27 Feb-5 Mar 98.3.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980306114604.4596Kemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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