IRIN Weekly Round-up 20-98 for 8-14 May 98.5.15

IRIN Weekly Round-up 20-98 for 8-14 May 98.5.15

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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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 20-98 covering the period 8-14 May 1998

RWANDA: Annan greeted with hostility

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan received a hostile welcome during his visit to Rwanda last week. The Rwanda News Agency said the "heart of the row" between Kigali and Annan was the Secretary-General's speech to the Rwandan national assembly last Thursday. In his speech, Annan admitted that "in their greatest hour of need, the world failed the people of Rwanda".. "The world must deeply repent this failure," he added. He said he had come to Rwanda on a "mission of healing" and to pledge the UN's support. "Our commitment to your future begins with the pursuit of justice," Annan stressed. But Rwandan radio said the country's leaders described the speech as "insensitive, insulting and arrogant", and as such later boycotted a reception organised for Annan. Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana said it was all very well to speak of a "lack of political will" among the international community, but responsibility for not preventing the genocide had to be apportioned.

Government suspends HRFOR operations

Rwanda suspended the work of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) last 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. Rwandan presidential spokesman Joseph Bideri said it was "mere coincidence" the matter arose during Annan's visit and did not amount to a "breakdown in relationship".

On arrival in Kampala on Friday, Annan said there was a limit to what the UN could do for Rwanda, "if the government does not want to work with the UN and international organisations". "There may be a time when you just have to cut your losses and focus where we can do useful work," he told a news conference.

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".

Maximum security in Gulu ahead of Museveni visit

The 'New Vision' on Monday said maximum security was in place in the northern town of 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. Another ambush on Monday in Lacaretot, 65 km northeast of Gulu, killed an unknown number of soldiers, AFP reported. There has been a resurgence of violence in the area of late.

BURUNDI: Arusha peace process set to resume next month

Former Tanzanian president and Burundi mediator Julius Nyerere confirmed that the Arusha peace process encompassing all sides in the conflict would resume on 15 June. Burundi's ambassador to Nairobi Stanislas Nakaha told IRIN the government was pleased that peace talks were resuming because it had appeared the Arusha process was dead. He said one of the points on the agenda would be to find a "neutral venue" for the continuation of peace negotiations. Interviewed by the All Africa News Agency recently, Burundi's Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama said the government would not go to Arusha for the sake of it. "We shall go to get something out of it," he said.

Nyangoma sacked as CNDD leader

Leader of the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) Leonard Nyangoma was sacked by his movement, although he denied the move in an interview with the BBC Kirundi service. Other leading CNDD members accused him of trying to be too powerful. Brussels-based spokesman Jerome Ndiho said Nyangoma's functions had been taken over by CNDD's chief-of-staff Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, who now leads both CNDD and its armed wing Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD). In an interview with the BBC's Kirundi service on Wednesday, he explained there had been attempts by form factions within CNDD. The group's political leaders had "not been close enough to the war front", and measures were therefore taken to stop further "disintegration". He denied morale in CNDD was low at a time when all-party peace talks are set to resume in Arusha next month. CNDD representatives would be at the talks, he added.

Reports of splits within CNDD had been gaining momentum. 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.

Rebels' strategy includes cutting off ears

A BBC correspondent who visited Burundi last week spoke to villagers in who said Hutu rebels had punished them for "betrayal" by cutting off their ears. The villagers are Hutus, living in the hills around Bujumbura, whom the rebels accuse of not assisting them. In Isale, Bujumbura Rural province, a string of rebel attacks have brought fighting between insurgents and the army closer to the capital, the BBC report said. It added that several Hutu families were killed as they were sleeping when their houses came under rebel attack. Regional observers told IRIN both PALIPEHUTU and FDD rebels are active in Bujumbura Rural. According to a recent Reuters report, some 2,000 FDD rebels have infiltrated the Isale region.

SUDAN: OLS assessment mission to visit Nuba mountains next week

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has said Sudan will allow relief flights into the country's Nuba mountains area where thousands of people are facing food shortages, AP reported. Speaking on Monday, he said the government was making arrangements for Operation Lifeline Sudan to include the Nuba region in its distribution of food and medical supplies. The Nuba mountain area in the central Kordofan region lies in the "transition zone" where north and south Sudan meet. Human rights groups have said tens of thousands of people are at risk. They add the situation is further complicated by alleged government abuses against the Nuba people in the fight against southern rebels.

OLS on Wednesday welcomed the Sudanese government's announcement and said the first assessment mission would take place next week in rebel-held areas of the Nuba mountains. Food, health and other needs would be determined, OLS said in a press release. Assessments were also planned in government areas over the next month. OLS said the announcement "comes after repeated attempts by the United Nations over the last 10 years to gain access to one of the most forgotten, destitute populations in Sudan".

Fourth WFP plane to begin airlift to Bahr al-Ghazal

Meanwhile, WFP said a fourth Hercules plane would on Wednesday begin airlifting relief assistance to the Bahr al-Ghazal region, so that 75 percent of the needy population would now be supplied. It was hoped migration would be stemmed as six to seven locations could now be reached, a WFP spokesperson told IRIN.

ICRC to resume operations

After a break of about 18 months, ICRC is to resume its activities in Sudan, the organisation has announced. It was forced to pull out expatriate staff in November 1996 after one of its planes was seized by rebels and the Khartoum authorities subsequently accused ICRC of transporting weapons for the insurgents. Well-placed sources told IRIN that maverick rebel leader Kerubino Kwanyin Bol was behind the capture of the plane, which was subsequently released. All sides have now agreed that ICRC can resume its field activities with the necessary security guarantees. A recent offensive led by Kerubino Bol in Bahr al-Ghazal has contributed to the current crisis in that region, observers say.

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 on 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.

TANZANIA: Mystery disease is severe malaria

A "mystery disease" reported in the Sumbawanga area of southern Tanzania has been confirmed as a severe form of malaria, according to the World Health Organisation. Over 500 deaths, most of them children under-five, were reported in the first quarter of this year in three affected wards: Matai, Sopa and Katete. A total of 4,853 cases were registered. WHO points out the whole country is experiencing an increase in malaria cases and related deaths after over six months of abnormally-long rains.

IRIN: New Central and Eastern Africa Kiswahili service launched

IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa on Monday released 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, 15 May 1998


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Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 12:09:57 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 20-98 for 8-14 May 98.5.15 Message-ID: <>

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

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