IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 15-1999, 4/16/99

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 15-1999, 4/16/99

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 15 covering the period 10-16 Apr 1999

RWANDA: Bishop held on genocide charges

The Catholic bishop of Gikongoro prefecture, Augustin Misago, was arrested on Wednesday night in connection with genocide crimes, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. It pointed out this is the first time in Rwanda's history that a bishop has been detained. The bishop was travelling to attend a meeting in Kigali, when his vehicle was intercepted by the military. He being held at the Muhima military prison in Kigali.

Misago was publicly accused by President Pasteur Bizimungu during a memorial service for genocide victims in Kibeho, Gikongoro prefecture, on 7 April. He said the bishop was "not above the law", and asked how long would the Catholic church "continue to ignore accusations by Christians" against Misago. Genocide survivors accuse the 56-year-old bishop of "personally organising meetings of killers in Kibeho". Among the allegations against him are responsibility for the disappearance of 30 girls who sought his protection during the 1994 genocide.

The Vatican issued a "strong protest" against Misago's arrest. It was a "serious blow" not only to the church in Rwanda, but to the entire Catholic church, a Vatican spokesman said, according to Radio France Internationale. However the Rwandan government on Thursday expressed outrage at the Vatican's reaction. "The state prosecutor arrested Misago because of his personal involvement in the crimes he committed," spokesman Major Wilson Rutayisire told the Rwanda New Agency. "We do not believe he acted on behalf of the Catholic church".

Swiss court will not judge suspect for genocide crimes

A Swiss military tribunal has said it is unable to try a former Rwandan mayor on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported on Tuesday. The trial of Fulgence Niyonteze, the former mayor of Mushubati commune in Gitarama prefecture, began in Lausanne on Monday, the first time a genocide suspect is tried by a foreign country. However the court decided there was no specific provision under Swiss law to judge genocide crimes, although the suspect will be tried for murder, instigation to murder and violating the Geneva conventions. Niyonteze faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Britain pledges 55 million pounds

Britain has signed an agreement to provide Rwanda with a total of 55 million pounds (about US $70 million) worth of aid. Rwandan radio said the accord was signed on Monday by visiting British Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short and Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame. According to the Rwanda News Agency, 50 million pounds will help support the country's budget over a 10 year period, and another five million goes to the Rwanda Revenue Authority. "We hope that the signing of this protocol will seal our determination to extend it to other areas of cooperation," Kagame was quoted as saying. The assistance comes after the World Bank last month approved a US $75 million loan to support Rwanda's economic reforms, RNA noted.

Bizimungu visits Burundi

Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu arrived in Burundi on Thursday at the invitation of his counterpart there, Major Pierre Buyoya. Burundi's Net Press news agency said this was the first visit by a foreign head of state since the regional embargo was lifted in January. Bizimungu's visit was aimed at "renormalising" relations between the two countries, it added.

BURUNDI: Discussions resume in Arusha

Eighteen Burundian delegations on Monday resumed discussions on the nature of the country's conflict in Arusha, Tanzania, as part of the ongoing peace process, Fondation Hirondelle reported. However, straightaway they disagreed over the historical influence on Burundi of events in neighbouring Rwanda.

Government says refugee camp harbouring rebels

UNHCR noted that the Burundian government, in a note verbale to the Tanzanian authorities, protested against the attempted infiltration by 500 Burundian rebels in the east of the country late last month. Burundi said the rebels were supported by a group in one of the Tanzanian refugee camps. There has been an escalation of fighting in eastern Burundi of late.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN urges political dialogue

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate halt to the fighting in the DRC. In a resolution adopted on Friday, it urged an all-inclusive political dialogue leading to national reconciliation and free and fair elections. The resolution expressed the Council's willingness to consider active UN involvement in implementing a ceasefire agreement. Urging respect for human rights in the country, the Council also called for an international investigation into allegations of massacres in the country. The resolution deplored the presence of foreign forces in DRC and "calls upon those states to bring to an end the presence of these uninvited forces".

Ceasefire talks underway in Lusaka

Talks on organising a ceasefire in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo began in Lusaka, Zambia on Thursday. "These are technical talks to prepare for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement," a senior Zambian official told IRIN. Regional military and diplomatic officials were gathered in Lusaka for the scheduled three-day meeting. Both DRC government and rebel delegations were expected to attend.

Eleven publicly executed as "deterrent"

Eleven people convicted of carrying out armed attacks were executed by firing squad in Mbuji-Mayi on Tuesday, AFP reported. Citing the Kinshasa daily newspaper, 'Le Phare', the agency said the 11, sentenced to death by a military tribunal, were executed in public "as a deterrent". Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) reacted by accusing President Laurent-Desire Kabila of human rights violations, rebel-held Goma radio reported. The RCD said the 11 were "innocent people who were executed for sympathising with the rebels".

Night curfew lifted

The DRC authorities have announced an end to the night curfew in Kinshasa. Minister of State for the Interior Gaetan Kakudji made the announcement over state television on Tuesday. "People can now move about freely," he said. "The security forces will patrol, but just to maintain public order." The curfew was imposed in the wake of the rebellion last August.

TANZANIA: No let-up in refugees from DRC

UNHCR says the flow of refugees from eastern DRC shows no sign of abating. Between 22 March and 12 April, 4,409 refugees arrived in Kigoma by boat from the Fizi and Uvira areas. This brings to 48,624 the total number of arrivals since the DRC rebellion began last August. In its latest Great Lakes update, UNHCR quoted the refugees as saying rebels from the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) controlled most parts of South Kivu and Katanga provinces. Many civilians, unable to find passage to Tanzania, are displaced and hiding in the bush, the refugees said. They added that rebels and Mayi-Mayi fighters were looting, raping, burning houses and forcibly recruiting young men.

UGANDA: 10 killed by ADF rebels

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on Wednesday attacked a trading centre in the western Kabarole district, killing 10 people and injuring two others, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported on Thursday. It said the rebels launched an early morning attack on Nyakifumba trading centre in Bunyangabu. At least five houses were burnt as the rebels retreated to their bases in the Rwenzori mountains, the newspaper said. Some 100 people are reported to have fled their homes.

SUDAN: Hope for "new momentum" at IGAD talks

Donors hope for a new momentum at the next round of Sudan peace talks, due to start in Nairobi next week under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), diplomatic sources told IRIN. However, a humanitarian ceasefire extension beyond 25 April is uncertain. Thursday marked the end of the current humanitarian ceasefire in parts of southern Sudan particularly affected by food shortages, and only a ten-day extension is assured at present.

Press reports at the weekend said the Sudanese government could call off the talks with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) over the latter's failure to hand over the bodies of four slain Sudanese nationals abducted in February. The SPLA meanwhile said it would take part in the discussions.

Government denies rebel gains in Blue Nile

The Sudanese government on Tuesday denied claims by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) that it had captured two garrison towns in Southern Blue Nile state and was in control of the Khartoum-Port Sudan road. Such claims were "part of the rebels' propaganda", an official at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Mansour Al-Bolad, told IRIN. In a statement, the SPLA said its troops had killed 128 government soldiers and wounded 300 in the capture of Samaa West and Adrob garrisons last Thursday.

SOMALIA: UN expert deplores Mogadishu fighting

The United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia has expressed deep concern at the recent upsurge of violence in Mogadishu. Mona Rishmawi "strongly condemned the continuing use of weapons as a means of resolving conflicts and particularly deplored violence against civilians", according to a UN statement, received by IRIN on Thursday. She reminded the warring factions that they were bound by the Geneva Conventions to protect civilian populations from hostilities, and urged them "to continue to meet and pursue the dialogue which they have begun".

Humanitarian crisis deepening

UN agencies and partner organisations warned that the humanitarian crisis was worsening in many areas of Somalia. Expressing growing concern over "increasingly critical humanitarian relief situations" in the country, they estimated an urgent requirement of US $9.6 million for emergency measures to address food security, safe water supplies, public health and nutrition interventions, a UN report said.

Ethiopia denies troop incursion allegations

Ethiopia has denied allegations of incursions into Somalia by a group of Somali warlords. On Sunday, Somali faction leaders Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Hussein Mohamed Aidid and Omar Haji Masale presented a united front by sending a protest letter to the UN Security Council, asking that action be taken against the Ethiopian government for its "unprovoked incursions into Somalia". However, Ethiopia rejected the accusations as "unfounded". A government statement on Monday acknowledged Ethiopia had detained Somali nationals "caught smuggling explosives into Ethiopia", but dismissed allegations of "heavily-armed" Ethiopian soldiers entering Somalia.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Eritrea studying Ethiopia ceasefire proposal

Eritrea has said it is examining a renewed ceasefire proposal by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Meles told Voice of America radio on Wednesday Ethiopia would offer a ceasefire in the border dispute with Eritrea if Asmara promised to pull out of Ethiopian territory, rather than insisting on prior troop withdrawal. A spokesman at the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi told IRIN on Wednesday Asmara was still examining Meles' statement and it would be premature to comment. "We are trying to study it, and really dissect it, so it is too early to react", he said.

CONGO: Displaced people remain as repatriation agreement signed

"Precarious" conditions await tens of thousands of displaced people if and when they return to two towns in the Congo Republic, according to a UN statement, received by IRIN. A joint UN-Government team which visited the central towns of Dolisie and Nkayi last week found the towns almost deserted: only about 3,500 people, many elderly, remain in the two towns of a pre-war joint population of at least 120,000. A new tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the two countries signed late last week establishes a framework for expanding ongoing bilateral repatriation efforts. The first group of an expected 5,000 UN-assisted returnees is set to return next week, a UNHCR spokesperson told IRIN on Tuesday.

Nairobi, 16 April 1999, 10:30 gmt


Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 14:17:26 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 15-1999 [19990416]

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

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