IRIN Update 413 for 9-11 May 98.5.11

IRIN Update 413 for 9-11 May 98.5.11

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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IRIN Update No. 413 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 9-11 May 1998)

RWANDA: Government suspends HRFOR operations

Rwanda suspended the work of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) over the weekend as the two sides had failed to agree on the future mandate of the mission. The two-week suspension follows the expulsion of HRFOR spokesman Jose Luis Herrero for remarks he made criticising the recent execution of 22 genocide convicts. A statement issued on Saturday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said talks with the Rwandan authorities on reviewing the mandate had "not proceeded as swiftly as both sides would have liked", hence the suspension of day-to-day operations until agreement could be reached. HRFOR head Gerard Fischer was travelling to Geneva for consultations and the matter involving Herrero would be examined by the UN legal adviser in New York, the statement added.

Limit to what UN can do for Rwanda - Annan

The Rwanda News Agency said Rwanda and the UN had continually been at odds over the role of human rights monitors in the country. It noted the suspension followed the troubled visit to Kigali last week of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The Secretary-General, who arrived in Uganda from Kigali on Friday, told a Kampala news conference that "if the Rwanda government does not want to work with the UN and international organisations, there is a limit to what we can do". "There may be a time when you just have to cut your losses and focus where we can do useful work," he added.

ERITREA: President urges UN to be more effective in Africa

Annan on Saturday left Kampala for the Eritrean capital Asmara. Bad weather forced him to make an unscheduled stopover in Khartoum where he held impromptu talks with Sudanese officials. In Asmara, Eritrean radio quoted Annan as saying regional and subregional initiatives aimed at solving conflicts should be encouraged. According to the radio, he added that the UN was making efforts to play a more positive role in solving African conflicts. Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki said the UN's role "has not been in line with the wishes and expectations of Africa". "The UN needs to be restructured to make it an organisation that can play an effective role in the new century," the radio quoted Isayas as saying.

UGANDA: Museveni says refugee-generating conflicts should be resolved

In Kampala, Annan attended a two-day regional conference on refugee issues which opened on Friday. The state-owned Ugandan 'New Vision' daily quoted President Yoweri Museveni as telling the meeting conflicts leading to refugee situations should be resolved first. "It's not enough to specialise in management of refugees," he said. "We should stop generating refugees. Bold reforms should be undertaken to correct policy distortions created by colonialism."

Refugee conference agrees on need to demilitarise camps

A final statement issued by the conference chairpersons, UNHCR chief Sadako Ogata and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, said there was broad agreement on the need to screen exiled Rwandans and determine their status. Consensus was reached that the mixed nature of refugee camps in the Great Lakes region had at times constituted a threat to security, a situation that humanitarian agencies alone could not confront. It was therefore agreed that "in extreme cases" there should be international intervention in refugee situations, preferably by the region, to ensure the civilian character of camps was maintained, the statement said. The meeting also agreed that refugees should not receive "exclusive assistance".

Addressing the meeting's closing session, Annan said humanitarian agencies "should not be expected to address and resolve problems which require political and military responses such as the separation of refugees from military elements, militiamen and terrorists". He added that humanitarian assistance was ineffective if illegal arms flows were left unchecked, AFP reported.

Maximum security in Gulu ahead of Museveni visit

The 'New Vision' today said maximum security was in place in Gulu ahead of a visit by President Museveni and the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to security sources, the high alert followed an ambush by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army on government troops over the weekend. Meanwhile, at least 46 LRA rebels were killed in two days of heavy fighting with the army in the northern Lira region, the 'New Vision' reported on Saturday. The clashes were concentrated in the Otuke and Moroto areas where weapons were recovered from fleeing rebels, according to security sources. Lira district commissioner Sadiq Odwori said the situation was now under control and there was no cause for alarm.

BURUNDI: Nyangoma reportedly suspended as CNDD leader

A split within the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) appears to be worsening, with the organisation's announcement that its leader Leonard Nyangoma has been suspended. Interviewed by the BBC Kirundi service on Friday, CNDD's Brussels-based spokesman Jerome Ndiho said the move followed Nyangoma's refusal to reinstate sacked high-ranking members of the organisation. Ndiho said Nyangoma had been stripped of all his functions which had been taken over by CNDD's chief-of-staff Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye. However, in a separate interview Nyangoma denied he had been suspended. "No-one has the power to sack the CNDD president," he said. Instead, he claimed he had sacked Ndiho and Ndayikengurukiye both of whom had "become rebellious".

On 17 April 1998 [update 398], IRIN received a document announcing the formation of a joint CNDD-FDD political-military organisation. The document, signed among others by Ndayikengurukiye, noted divisions among CNDD and FDD members, accusing some of "self-interest and sectarianism", and accusing the top leadership in CNDD of an "almost total lack of authority". Another document, dated 22 March 1998, lists several high-ranking CNDD members who have been either expelled or suspended from the organisation. Among the most prominent are William Munyembabazi, former CNDD secretary-general, expelled for "high treason", former vice-president Christian Sendegeya suspended for 24 months for "treason", and former "directeur de cabinet" Leonce Ndarubagiye, a close aide to Nyangoma, suspended for three months for involvement in "poor social management" of CNDD. This second document is also signed by Ndayikengurukiye. The divisions within CNDD come ahead of Burundi all-party peace talks planned for 15 June in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.

RWANDA: Villagers reportedly escape from Interahamwe captors

Local authorities in northwest Gisenyi prefecture say villagers, reportedly abducted by Interahamwe militiamen, have managed to escape from their captors and are returning to their homes, the Rwanda News Agency reported. To date, some 2,000 people had resettled in their communes, most of which border the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Virunga mountains area. Returnees said the militiamen told them they must flee or else the Rwandan army would "decimate" all Hutus. According to military sources in Gisenyi, about 1,000 ex-FAR members who recently underwent political re-education, have begun mopping up operations against the Interahamwe. Some 25 militiamen have reportedly been captured.

GREAT LAKES: Countries to coordinate anti-cholera fight

Experts from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC on Friday ended a three-day meeting in Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda, to discuss a growing cholera epidemic in the three countries. RNA said they agreed to join forces to combat the disease. Some 1,000 cases have been reported in Cyangugu, while in Bukavu just across the border in DRC, 1,419 cases have been registered in the period March-May. The disease is also said to be raging in the Burundi provinces of Cibitoke and Nyanza Lac, the agency added.

Belgian grant for Great Lakes infrastructure

Belgium has provided US $1 million to improve transport links in the Great Lakes region, Ugandan radio reported on Saturday. The agreement, signed by the Belgian ambassador to Uganda and Ugandan Planning Minister Richard Kaijuka, will finance the first stage of a programme to improve surface transport links between DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.

IRIN: New Central and Eastern Africa Kiswahili service launched

IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa today releases its first weekly round-up in Kiswahili - 'Taarifa ya Wiki'. This pilot initiative comes as part of a continuing drive to expand our services both in terms of content, media and readership. For a free subscription, please contact us by phone, e-mail or fax. IRIN would be grateful if you would share this information with interested parties.

Nairobi, 11 May 1998, 15:00 gmt


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Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 413 for 9-11 May 98.5.11 Message-ID: <>

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

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