IRIN Update 414 for 12 May 98.5.12

IRIN Update 414 for 12 May 98.5.12

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. 414 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 12 May 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Parties to be legalised ahead of elections

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has said the ban on political parties will be lifted six months before general elections. In a lengthy interview with Radio France Internationale, broadcast yesterday (Monday), he said the temporary suspension of parties was necessary to safeguard civil liberties because of the chaos inherited from the previous regime. Asked about the abortive UN investigation into human rights violations, Kabila said the mission had never been driven out of the country and it was welcome to return. Concerning the process of democracy, he could not understand the attitude of the international community "which wants us to jump over the various stages". On instability in eastern DRC, Kabila said reports of anti-Tutsi and anti-Banyamulenge feelings were a "fabrication" by the media. The rebel Mayi-Mayi groups were now in "disarray" and "at loggerheads" with the Rwandan Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR members, he added. He also denied there were incursions into the territory by the Rwandan army.

Human rights researcher freed

Meanwhile, a foreign human rights researcher has been released from detention, news reports said. Suleiman Ali Baldo, who works for Human Rights Watch, was arrested on Friday at Kinshasa airport as he was about to board a flight for Europe. He had spent three weeks in DRC. The security services said he was being held in connection with "an investigation", Gabonese radio reported.

Kabila, Sassou Nguesso agree to boost security

Kabila last week met his Congolese counterpart Denis Sassou-Nguesso in Kinshasa during which they agreed to boost border security. In a joint statement, they stressed the "illegal movement" of armed groups made up of ex-FAZ, ex-Ninja and Cocoyes militias would be checked. On Sunday, the DRC security forces rounded up 50 former Ninja militiamen, loyal to deposed Congolese premier Bernard Kolelas, Gabonese radio reported. It quoted eyewitnesses as saying they included Dieudonne Boukaka Idiabantou, a close aide to Kolelas. The 50 were reportedly escorted from the rich Bambalungwa suburb to an unknown destination by heavily-armed policemen.

Kabila signs defence accord with CAR

Kabila, who arrived in Bangui yesterday, has signed a defence agreement with his Central African Republic counterpart Ange-Felix Patasse, Radio France Internationale reported. The pact provides for mutual assistance and consultations on defence and security issues. The two leaders also discussed the presence of ex-Zairean officials in CAR.

RWANDA: Ex-FAR soldiers in court on genocide charges

The first ex-FAR soldiers to be tried for genocide appeared in court in Butare yesterday, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Lieutenant Pierre Bizimana and Sergeant Aloys Mazimpaka had several genocide-related charges read out to them, after which their defence counsel requested that the hearing be postponed to give him more time to prepare. The prosecutor agreed to delay the trial until 24 May.

No breakdown in relations with UN, government says

The Rwandan authorities on Sunday said there was no conflict with the UN and an agreement would be worked out regarding the suspended human rights operation, AP reported. It quoted presidential spokesman Joseph Bideri as saying the timing may have been "embarrassing", occurring during the visit of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "but it was not anything calculated or planned". "These are mere coincidences and I don't think it amounts to any breakdown in relationship at all," he said.

HIV increase due to insecurity-related migration and rape

A two-month study conducted by the health ministry blames migration and rape connected with insecurity and the 1994 genocide for a six-fold increase in HIV infection since 1986. According to AP, the ministry found that 11.1 percent of the adult population was infected compared to 1.8 percent in 1986. "Since the early 1990s, Rwanda has experienced an unprecedented mobility of her population due to an unstable political and security situation," the report said. Many people had ended up as refugees in camps where they were subjected to rape or "sexual activity as a survival strategy".

BURUNDI: CNDD rejects internal peace dialogue

The rebel movement Conseil National pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) has rejected the internal peace process currently underway, according to a report by OCHA-Burundi. In a statement issued on 4 May, signed by its now-suspended leader Leonard Nyangoma, CNDD insisted the government should resume negotiations mediated by former Tanzanian president Juilius Nyerere. The statement criticised the government for "coercing" opposition FRODEBU parliamentarians to obtain their support. The government is set to take part in Arusha all-party talks scheduled for 15 June amid growing divisions within CNDD.

UNDP signs accord to boost peace process

UNDP has signed an agreement worth US $904,446 [corrects figure in OCHA-Burundi bulletin] with the Burundi government towards a programme in support of the peace process and national reconciliation. The programme, signed with Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama, seeks in particular to promote human rights and enforce the capacity of the National Assembly and civil society with a view to ensuring better governance.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Pointe-Noire linked to DRC power station

'La Rue Meurt' weekly newspaper reported on 7 May that Pointe-Noire has been linked to the Inga power station in the DRC since 5 May, after rebel militia controlling the Moukoukoulou power plant again cut off southern Congo's electricity supply. Local media had earlier reported that negotiations between a government delegation and the militia had led to the reactivation of the Moukoukoulou hydroelectric station. The power station has been occupied by Cocoyes militia allied to former president Pascal Lissouba since 6 April, and workers are being held hostage inside, according to local media.

Lissouba militia continues "rebellion" in south

'La Semaine Africaine' newspaper on 7 May reported that about 100 people have been killed since the start of the clashes in early April between government forces and Cocoyes militia in the Bouenza region of southern Congo. The latest clash took place on 1 May when Cocoyes militia hiding in the hills between the villages of Mfila and Mayalama near Mouyondzi fired on a government military convoy, the newspaper said, citing eyewitness accounts. The newspaper added that the Cocoyes "rebellion" in Bouenza is now known as MARCO (Mouvement d'action et de resistance du Congo), considered as the armed wing of ERDDUN (Espace republicain pour la defense de la democratie et l'unite nationale), which is led by ousted premier Bernard Kolelas.

Kolelas refused entry into Cote d'Ivoire

Meanwhile, Kolelas was refused entry into Cote d'Ivoire where he has been living in exile since his ouster, AFP reported. It cited Ivorian interior ministry sources as saying today (Tuesday) that Kolelas was prevented from re-entering last Thursday after a trip abroad because he did not have a visa. He is currently in London, according to his associates.

ANGOLA: Blondin Beye discusses peace process with South Africa

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Angola Alioune Blondin Beye held talks with South Africa's Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo in Pretoria yesterday, news media reported. The discussions centred on the Angolan peace process "and South Africa's contribution", a spokeswoman for the UN peacekeeping mission MONUA told IRIN today. A South African foreign ministry spokesman described the talks as "sensitive" given the state of the peace process, and could not divulge details. He however told IRIN that South Africa's contribution is "behind the scenes" and more a "moral, political and facilitatory role". "We would just like to see the peace process get back on stream," he added.

Blondin Beye recently warned of the discrepancy over the progress made in the peace process and the deteriorating military situation on the ground between the government and residual UNITA forces in a triangle of three provinces - Huambo, Huila and Benguela - in the southwest. "If this worsens it could turn into an explosive situation, which must be avoided,'' he told Reuters yesterday. According to the MONUA spokeswoman, given Angola's history of conflict, "some state of tension" is inevitable. She however said the current situation was that of "incidents" rather than open conflict.

World Bank provides US $5 million for demining

The World Bank has pledged US $5 million towards demining and the rehabilitation of mine victims in Angola, state radio said on Sunday.. The details of the loan will be discussed in the US this week with Social Reintegration Minister Albino Malungo, the radio added. A spokeswoman for the London-based Mines Advisory group described the loan as a "significant" amount. She told IRIN: "You could do a lot with that if you do it right."

RWANDA-UGANDA: Cellular phone business "humming"

Over US $100 million has been invested in cellular and wireless telephone networks in the Great Lakes region so far this year. A leading South African company is investing US $34 million in Rwandan and Ugandan cellular telephone networks. An official with Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN) told IRIN in Johannesburg that the potential for their ventures in Rwanda and Uganda was "humming". MTN's investment of US $30 million represents 50 percent of MTN Uganda, while it holds 26 percent of the Rwandan venture. Communications Africa magazine reports that only about 400,000 subscribers in 25 countries outside South Africa use mobile phones, but that the market has "virtually tripled in less than two years." South Africa itself now has an estimated 1.8 million users. Delegates at the Africa Telecom 98 exhibition in Johnnesburg this week were told that wireless telephone systems can compensate up for the low availability, poor maintenance and high costs common with traditional land lines in Africa. A US company, Qualcomm, recently announced a US $70 million investment in a wireless network with AfriTel in the DRC.

Nairobi, 12 May 1998, 14:10 gmt


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Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 17:12:07 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 414 for 12 May 98.5.12 Message-ID: <>

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

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