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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 17-98 covering the period 17-23 Apr 1998
RWANDA: Government strongly criticised over executions
The Rwandan government faced a torrent of criticism this week over its decision to execute in public on Friday some 22 people convicted of participation in the 1994 genocide. The executions, the first since trials of some 130,000 jailed suspects began, were due to be carried out by firing squad at 10:00 a.m. local time at five specially-selected locations across the nation.
[Rwandan radio said on Friday the executions went ahead as planned. An AFP correspondent reported a Rwandan firing squad executed three men and a woman at a soccer ground in Kigali in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 people. Rwandan radio added the other executions were carried out on schedule.]
The UN and Amnesty International had strongly criticised the Rwandan government's decision. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said in a statement, issued on Thursday, that she was "deeply disturbed, and even shocked" to learn of the decision. "While condemning the genocide in the strongest terms, I appeal to the Government to reconsider this decision which, I believe, will have a negative impact on the process of reconciliation in the country," she said in the statement. The UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UNHRFOR) also deplored the decision. "The UN protests the carrying out of the executions. We don't consider it positively," UNHRFOR spokesman Jose Luis Hererro said in a statement after the government announced the move on Tuesday.
In its last report in December, the UNHRFOR voiced concern over the trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda, saying there had been a "lack of full respect for some fair-trial guarantees as provided for by Rwandan law and under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." The report said these included a general lack of opportunity for defendants without lawyers to question witnesses and limited legal representation of people in certain outlying areas.
Amnesty International said the planned public executions were a "brutal pretence of "justice" which would damage any hope of reconciliation. "We are continuing to campaign for those who participated in the genocide to be promptly and fairly brought to justice. However, executing people - and so unashamedly in public - does not serve the interests of justice but further brutalises a society which is trying to heal from the memories of recent atrocities," Amnesty International stated in a press release.
The five locations selected for the public executions were as follows: Nyamirambo Soccer Stadium in the capital Kigali, Nyamata in Kigali Rural, Cyasemakamba in eastern Kibungo prefecture, Murambi in northeastern Umutara prefecture, and Gikongoro in Gikongoro prefecture. All those to be executed had applied for presidential clemency, but the latter was refused.
Former French prime minister defiant before Rwanda probe
Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur and three former cabinet members appeared on Tuesday before a parliamentary team probing France's role during Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Balladur, the centre-right premier at the time, hit out at what he called "violent, biased, hateful" allegations against France. AFP reported a defiant Balladur added in his preliminary remarks that "this campaign arouses general indignation". Appearing with the former premier were his foreign minister and successor Alain Juppe, ex-defence minister Francois Leotard, and former cooperation minister Michel Roussin.
Rwandan army kills at least 90 rebels
The Rwandan army has killed at least 90 rebels over the last two weeks in the central Bulinga commune, a Rwandan official in Gitarama said on Thursday. News organisations reported Desire Nyandwi, prefect of the town, saying the military had carried out a sweep against the rebels "with the help of the population". Meanwhile, the Rwandan news agency said suspected Interahamwe militia massacred 10 people at the week-end in Cyanika, Kidaho commune, 25 km northeast of Ruhengeri town.
BURUNDI: Total of 76 rebels and civilians reported killed
A total of 76 rebels and civilians were killed in an attack by Hutu rebels east of the capital, Bujumbura, the army said on Thursday. News agencies quoted military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isaie Nibizi saying the 76 were killed in dawn attacks in Isale commune, about 20 km east of the capital on Wednesday. "Twenty-nine civilians were killed by terrorists... our soldiers intervened and shot down 47 terrorists," Nibizi told Reuters. Local sources say the fighting is the worst since 1 January when rebels attacked and briefly captured Bujumbura airport.
Meanwhile, IPS reported that former Tanzanian leader Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would start a six-nation tour at the end of this week to solicit support for his effort to revive stalled peace talks in Burundi. Nyerere, who is the internationally recognised mediator in the conflict, will visit Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa, United States, France and Switzerland.
CNDD says government has killed 88,000 since July 1996
Meanwhile, Burundi's main Hutu organisation the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) said in Nairobi on Thursday the government of military leader Pierre Buyoya had killed 88,000 Burundians since it seized power in July 1996. The organisation denied its fighters had raided villages and killed Tutsi civilians. Instead, CNDD's East Africa representative Innocent Nimpagaritse accused the army of being responsible for recent killings, saying the authorities wanted to build a "security belt" around Bujumbura. Nimpagaritse called recent moves, initiated by Buyoya, towards creating new institutions which would include members of the opposition Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) "a dishonest strategy". He said it was devised to "avoid a return to the negotiating table".
Danish aid worker killed in robbery
A Danish aid worker in Burundi was killed late on Wednesday in an apparent car-jacking attempt in the capital, Reuters reported. The agency reported aid officials saying Bent Nielsen, Burundi director of the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), was killed when thieves tried to steal his car in Bwiza suburb around nine p.m. local time. Nielsen, a Danish citizen, had lived in Bujumbura for over 10 years.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: DRC, Rwandan authorities meet on border security
DRC radio reported a meeting took place in Bukavu on Monday between the Congolese authorities from South Kivu and their counterparts from Cyangugu prefecture in southwestern Rwanda to look at ways of improving security on their common border. The meeting was chaired by South Kivu Governor Jean-Charles Magabe. The meeting agreed that in future people crossing at Ruzizi-one, Ruzizi-two and Bugarama border points would need special travel documents in addition to identity papers. At all other crossing points, travellers will only need their identity papers which, according to a communique from the meeting, "they will deposit at the border and then be given a slip valid for not more than 24 hours." The meeting also agreed that from now on Congolese authorities travelling to Uvira or Bukavu via Rwanda in government vehicles would be allowed to cross the border without any other documents apart from a mission order. Meanwhile, Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame returned to Kigali today after a short trip to Angola where he told reporters he had discussed the issue of the return of Rwandan refugees from that country.
Insecurity reported in Butembo area
Humanitarian sources reported to IRIN this week that rebels attacked Butembo in North Kivu at the beginning of last week. The road between Goma and Butembo was closed by local authorities on 14 April and military reinforcements were deployed in the area. The sources said the road was reopened last Saturday, but added that an operation to remove local populations living along the borders with Rwanda and Uganda was ongoing. DRC authorities have frequently denounced rebel activity in North Kivu, which is believed to emanate from a combination of Mayi-Mayi and Interahamwe elements.
Garreton says hopes fading for DRC government
UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in DRC, Roberto Garreton, says hopes placed on the regime that overthrew the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko had begun to fade. Presenting his report to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva last week, Garreton said the new government had had the historic possibility of installing a democratic regime respectful of human rights by bringing together all the forces that had fought the dictatorship, but had not done so. Instead he said the winner looked on the rest of the country as enemies and power was wielded unchecked by President Laurent-Desire Kabila.
The special rapporteur said political parties were prohibited and those who violated the ban were imprisoned, banished and even tortured. Human rights NGOs had also come under attack. Most recently, the group AZADHO had been banned. AFP reported the Commission went on to condemn DRC for "serious violations" of basic freedoms. It said the 53 participating countries adopted the resolution by 28 votes to seven with 18 abstentions.
Government suspends Kisangani Catholic Radio
Meanwhile, the DRC government has suspended a private radio station run by the Roman Catholic church in the town of Kisangani, a journalist at the radio said on Monday. Jose des Chartes Menga of Radio Amani told Reuters in the capital Kinshasa that Deputy Interior Minister Faustin Munene announced the move on Saturday evening on local state radio. He said Munene had accused Radio Amani of "functioning outside the limits of the law governing press freedom in DRC".
UNITED NATIONS: Annan to visit eight African countries
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will tour eight eastern and central African countries from 28 April to 10 May. His office said Annan would visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eritrea.
Annan, joined by least four African leaders, will start his tour by attending a conference on the future of women in Africa in Addis Ababa. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said in a statement the four-day conference opening in the Ethiopian capital on 28 April would mark the 40th anniversary of the ECA. The theme is "African Women and Economic Development - Investing in our Future". The ECA said the leaders of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Ghana had confirmed they would attend.
Annan likely to visit Arusha tribunal
While in Tanzania, Annan is expected to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in Arusha, northern Tanzania, Fondation Hirondelle quoted ICTR President Laity Kama as saying. He said the visit was set for 6-7 May.
KENYA: Cholera kills 1,571, Rift Valley fever outbreak said over
WHO Kenya told IRIN that Kenya's cholera outbreak was declining, but that 1,571 people had died in an epidemic lasting nine months. Figures from the Kenyan Ministry of Health indicate 41,126 reported cases of cholera between June 1997 and March 1998. The Coast and Nyanza provinces were the worst affected, accounting for over 30,000 cases. The national case fatality rate was 3.8 percent. Medical guidelines suggest that only one percent of cholera victims need die, given proper treatment.
Floods in Kenya contributed to the cholera epidemic, as well as an outbreak of a haemorrhagic disease thought to be Rift Valley Fever. A study by the Centers for Disease Control, WHO, the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the South African Institute for Virology and other specialists discovered that, of a sample of patients thought to have suffered Rift Valley Fever, only 40 percent tested positive for the disease. Malaria, cholera and malnutrition are thought to have contributed to the mysterious disease outbreak which killed over 400 people, and led to the deaths of large numbers of livestock.
Pokot, Marakwet in peace agreement
Members of the Pokot and the Marakwet ethnic groups who for the past two weeks have been involved in violent cattle raids, on Tuesday agreed a peace resolution to restore order in the two districts, according to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. A peace and reconciliation meeting held in Kitale and chaired by the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner was attended by political, administrative and church leaders from the region, the state
broadcast organisation reported. The two communities agreed that stolen cattle would not be pursued by the owners, but by security personnel aided by leaders selected from both sides. The cattle rustling which broke out late last month has left at least 17 people dead.
Food supplies to Dadaab back to normal
Food supplies to thousands of Somali refugees in north-eastern Kenya which were disrupted by severe flooding are back to normal after a six-week period of half rations, WFP said last Friday.The WFP spokeswoman Michele Quintaglie told IRIN road repairs partly funded by WFP had enabled trucks to take supplies to the camps.The main road to the Dadaab camps which houses about 125,000 refugees were badly damaged by El Nino rains last November and December.
SUDAN: WFP seeks to increase airlift to Bahr al-Ghazal
WFP warned on Tuesday that unless it received permission to double or triple its airlift of food aid to southern Sudan within a matter of days the Bahr al-Ghazal region will face catastrophe. WFP said farmers in the region also needed seeds and tools within the next three weeks to plant the crop they would harvest in August. "The situation in Bahr al-Ghazal has reached a critical and frightening level," David Fletcher, head of WFP's southern sector operation for Sudan, said. "The threat of thousands of people dying from lack of food and disease is becoming a reality as we anxiously wait for clearances to fly more aircraft. The deprivation we've seen so far could very well be just the beginning of a humanitarian catastrophe." Aid workers say this year is becoming one of southern Sudan's worst in recent history. In addition to the Bahr al-Ghazal crisis, other areas, such as Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria, are facing serious food shortages due to a combination of drought and insecurity. WFP is currently authorised to fly only one C-130 Hercules into southern Sudan, and Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) has appealed to the government to grant immediate clearance for at least one more C-130 to boost food deliveries from Lokichoggio, Kenya. At present, WFP says it is barely meeting 30 percent of the food needs in Bahr al-Ghazal. The agency estimates this month's total deliveries to southern Sudan at only 2,500 mt of food against a minimum requirement of 6,000 mt.
Nairobi, 24 April 1998 11:00 GMT
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Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 14:52:45 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 17-98 17-23 Apr 98.4.24 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980424145224.11765D-
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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