IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 14, 4/10/99

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 14, 4/10/99

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 14 covering the period 3-9 Apr 1999

RWANDA: Troops to stay in DRC as long as security compromised

Vice-President Paul Kagame, vowing that genocide will never occur again in his country, has said his troops will stay in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as long as Rwanda's national security is under threat. Addressing a news conference on Saturday, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the genocide unleashed on 6 April 1994, he said there had been much progress in Rwanda although the scars of the genocide would remain for a long time.

Addressing a reburial ceremony for 20,000 genocide victims in Kibeho, Gikongoro prefecture, on Wednesday to mark the anniversary, President Pasteur Bizimungu said that no Rwandan is above the law concerning the 1994 genocide. He asked how long would the Catholic church "continue to ignore accusations by Christians" against Gikongoro's bishop, Augustin Misago. The bishop, who was present at the ceremony, has been accused of involvement in the killings.

International community urged to help Rwanda

The UN Special Representative on human rights in Rwanda, Michel Moussalli, has urged the international community to adopt a comprehensive and systematic approach towards providing Rwanda with financial and technical assistance. Addressing the UN human rights commission in Geneva, he said there were "continuing obligations" to be fulfilled by the Rwandan government. Fear and mistrust still existed in Rwandan society, he said, noting "violations of human rights by agents of the state to suppress the feelings of revenge".

Three ex-ministers arrested in Cameroon

Three former ministers, suspected of genocide, have been arrested in Cameroon, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced on Tuesday. In a press release, it said former foreign minister Jerome Bicamumpaka, former civil service minister Prosper Mugiraneza and former commerce minister Justin Mugenzi were arrested in or around the capital, Yaounde. They were due to be transferred to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, as soon as formalities were completed in Cameroon.

World Bank approves loan

Rwanda has hailed a US $75 million loan by the World Bank as a sign of recovered confidence by the donor community, RNA reported on Tuesday. A senior finance ministry official said most of the loan - repayable after 40 years - would be used for Rwanda's economic reform programme.

TANZANIA: No repatriation deadline for Rwandans - UNHCR

An information campaign to encourage the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees remaining in Tanzania is set to begin on 15 April. The three-week "low-key" campaign, which will include refugee visits to Rwanda among other activities, is designed to "create a climate where the refugees feel comfortable to go home", UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Henry Domzalski told IRIN on Wednesday from Dar es Salaam. "We want them to see the situation in Rwanda with their own eyes. We will help them return home as soon as they wish to go, but it is totally up to them and there is no deadline for their repatriation," he said. The campaign which will target some 20,000 Rwandan refugees in Tanzanian camps.

BURUNDI: Lifting of embargo has "restored confidence"

The first deputy speaker of Burundi's interim National Assembly, Frederic Nguenzi-Buhoro, has said the recent suspension of the regional embargo will not have immediate consequences but it has restored confidence, particularly among Burundian businessmen. He told Radio France Internationale, however, that the cost of living situation had not improved, and imported goods were very costly. But the lifting of the embargo would undoubtedly contribute to peace and security in the country, he said.

Government steps positive, but peace still fragile - UN rapporteur

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, Sergio Paulo Pinheiro, has applauded transition measures taken by the government as a "positive move towards true democracy", but warned that peace remained fragile in the country. Addressing the human rights commission in Geneva, Pinheiro urged the international community to help in Burundi's rehabilitation. He said some of the most pressing issues were the progressive integration of women in the country's affairs, promoting education and adult literacy, and reforming the police and justice systems.

11 civilians killed by rebels

Rebels in southern Burundi killed 11 civilians in a weekend attack at Kayogoro, Makamba province, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. Reporting the same incident, RNA quoted a military spokesman who said five rebels were killed by security forces in the raid which was launched from across the border in Tanzania.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Annan appoints special envoy

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday appointed former Senegalese foreign minister Moustapha Niasse as his special envoy for the DRC peace process. The envoy will seek to, among other things, identify main obstacles to the signing of a ceasefire agreement and assess progress made so far in the Lusaka peace process, a UN statement, received by IRIN, said. Niasse will establish contacts with DRC political and civic leaders, sound out African leaders on a possible UN role in promoting a negotiated settlement, and determine what support countries outside Africa are prepared to extend towards a settlement, the statement added. Niasse served as Senegal's foreign minister from 1979 to 1984 and again from 1993 to 1998.

Meanwhile, EU special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, is scheduled to begin an eight-country tour on 15 April as part of efforts to resolve the conflict, AFP said on Thursday. He will visit Ethiopia, Chad, Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa, it said.

Rebel leadership wrangles

The president of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, has moved from Goma to Kisangani as a result of a "fresh dispute" within the movement's leadership, the weekly OEEastAfrican' newspaper said on Monday. "There is no coup d'etat, but there is some malaise in Goma," Wamba told the newspaper by telephone from Kisangani. Meanwhile, the level of disagreement between the RCD and the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) has intensified in Kisangani, sources in contact with the city told IRIN over the weekend.

Ceasefire talks scheduled for Lusaka

The presidents of Angola, Namibia, the DRC and Zimbabwe on Thursday signed a collective defence pact in Luanda committing themselves to a joint response if any one of their countries is attacked. The allied leaders reaffirmed their backing for Kabila ahead of the next round of ceasefire talks in Lusaka, Zambia, scheduled to take place soon after the Luanda summit.

Civilians victims of "confusing war"

A "climate of hatred" persisted in the DRC, where most victims of the "intense and confusing" war were civilians, including children and babies, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DRC, Roberto Garreton, said last week. Presenting his report to the human rights commission in Geneva, Garreton said human rights violations were committed by government forces and their allies, the rebel movement and "foreign rebel forces" from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, the release said. Garreton recommended that those responsible for gross human rights abuses in the DRC be tried in an international criminal tribunal.

Mayi-Mayi attacks reportedly intensifying

Banyamulenge and small numbers of Bafulero civilians are fleeing Mayi-Mayi/Interahamwe attacks in the Haut Plateau area of Uvira, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. They said the villages of Kanono and Rubarati, some 20 km from Uvira town, came under attack on Sunday and Tuesday and tension was high among the local population.

WFP needs resources to help Angolan refugees

WFP needs urgent donor support to respond to the needs of Angolan refugees in southwestern DRC, the latest WFP weekly emergency report said. It said the funding situation for the programme was "critical," with only six percent of the requirements contributed so far. The operation is meant to provide emergency food assistance to some 40,000 Angolan refugees in several camps in the Kisenge area of Katanga province, where 24 percent malnutrition rates were reported among refugee children in February.

Congolese franc devalued

The government has devalued the Congolese franc by 35.5 per cent, to 4.5 francs to one US dollar, the Agence congolaise de presse (ACP) said on Thursday. It quoted Economy and Industry Minister Bemba Saolona as saying that the new rate will permit businesses to calculate the prices of their goods and services "at a realistic cost, close to what a number of them were already doing". All those who attempt to increase their prices in response to the latest devaluation will be considered "saboteurs", Saolona added. The foreign exchange rate on the black market had reached up to 5.3 francs to the dollar in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, a market survey in Kinshasa revealed a general inflation rate of 5.7 per cent in February, with food prices increasing by 14 per cent, diplomatic sources said.

SUDAN: Deaths condemned, SPLA denies responsibility

There has been widespread international condemnation over the deaths last week of three Sudanese government officials and a Sudanese Red Crescent worker, blamed on the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The US reiterated its "strong" concern over the humanitarian situation in southern Sudan, and urged the SPLA and the government "not to allow this incident to interfere in any way with efforts of the international community, or the parties themselves, to provide relief assistance to Sudan's vulnerable populations". The UN also condemned the incident.

A press statement issued by the ICRC last Thursday said the organisation held the SPLA/M accountable for the deaths. The SPLA/M, for its part, denied responsibility. In a statement received by IRIN on Tuesday, it maintained the deceased were killed on 31 March "in crossfire during an attempted rescue operation by the government of Sudan forces". "These officials were not ICRC liaison officers but definitely on a spying mission. This is why the government of Sudan wanted to forcibly rescue them," it said.

Government declares ceasefire extension

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a unilateral ceasefire in all parts of southern Sudan upon expiry of the current truce on 15 April, Sudanese television reported on Monday. The UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, on Tuesday welcomed the decision. "I am encouraged by this positive development which comes at a time when those assisting populations affected by conflict situations are increasingly being targeted by warring parties around the world," he said in a statement. Meanwhile, the SPLA/SPLM, in a press release issued on Wednesday, dismissed Khartoum's "comprehensive ceasefire" offer and instead announced a three-month extension of the "humanitarian ceasefire" in parts of south Sudan.

Slavery problem worsened by war - UN rapporteur

The civil war and its related "pernicious strategies" have exacerbated the problem of slavery in Sudan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan, Leonardo Franco, said on Tuesday. Speaking to the human rights commission in Geneva, Franco said the government used nomad Arab tribesmen from the north, referred to as "muraheleen", in the war and they were given free rein to perpetrate attacks against the civilian population in parts of Bahr al-Ghazal, including the abduction of women and children.

Those abducted were taken north "to be subjected to forced labour or other conditions amounting to slavery", Franco said in statement received by IRIN on Wednesday. He called on the government to allow an investigation into the slavery issue. The Sudanese government delegation told the commission the rapporteur's conclusions on the slavery issue were "inaccurate".

UGANDA: Museveni reshuffles cabinet

President Yoweri Museveni has carried out a major cabinet reshuffle, with new appointees including the post of prime minister, media reports said. He retained his controversial vice president Specioza Kazibwe in her present post, but dropped her as agriculture minister following a parliamentary report of mismanagement in her ministry.

Senior LRA member quits

A senior member of the northern rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has resigned, saying the organisation has become a tool of the Sudanese government, the BBC reported on Tuesday. David Nyekorach-Matsanga, who is based in London, said however he would continue to fight the Ugandan government through his own eastern rebel group, the Uganda Salvation Front.

17 killed in ADF attacks

Meanwhile, in western Uganda, six people were killed by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in an attack in Kasese district over the weekend, and 11 civilians were reported killed on Monday in a vehicle ambush at Kabuga on the Bundibugyo-Fort Portal road, press reports said.

ETHIOPIA: WFP to feed over 600,000 people in Somali region

WFP announced on Thursday it will provide emergency food aid to some 640,000 drought-stricken pastoralists in the Somali region of Ethiopia. The agency has reallocated 8,000 mt of food from Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and Jijiga for the relief effort, which is slated to last one month, according to a WFP news release. "WFP's intervention is working to stave off a full-scale drought emergency," WFP's Ethiopia country director Judith Lewis said. She added that if the current rainy season fails, "we could have a major humanitarian crisis on our hands".

French aid worker, two officials held by rebel group

A French aid worker and two local officials, kidnapped on Saturday in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia, were still being held by their captors. An official from the NGO, Action contre la faim (ACF), whose employee is one of the three, told IRIN on Thursday the kidnappers had neither asked for ransom nor communicated with ACF field officers. However, the official said ACF had received information that the three were in good health.

Nairobi, 9 April 1999, 14:30 gmt


Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 17:57:46 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 14-1999 [19990410]

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

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