Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up, 5, 18-25/'96

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up, 5, 18-25/'96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 441125
Fax: +254 2 448816

This is number 10 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN, NGO, ICRC and other international organizations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.

18 - 25 May 1996

# Mediation on the part of former President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere between Burundi's political factions is reported to be in jeopardy over the proposed participation in peace talks of the exiled National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). The second round of the talks due to begin in Mwanza, Tanzania on Wednesday 22 May has been postponed indefinitely. Nyerere has not yet formally proposed the CNDD's inclusion in peace talks, but diplomats have openly said that negotiations will fail without the group's inclusion. Burundi's President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya favours negotiations with the CNDD on condition that its armed wing, the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) renounces violence. The Prime Minister, Antoine Nduwayo and the Army are vehemently opposed to the CNDD's inclusion. On Tuesday, Charles Mukasi, the leader of UPRONA, led a march of about 800 supporters through Bujumbura condemning the UN and its special representative Marc Faguy. The demonstrators accused the UN of appeasing the leader of the CNDD, Leonard Nyangoma.

Nyangoma has said that he is ready to halt the fighting if the Army returns to their barracks and agrees to direct negotiations with the CNDD/FDD on the country's future. The FDD claimed this week that its militia control all the roads leading into Bujumbura and hinted that the capital could be attacked if the Nyerere talks fail. Senior US Government officials who visited Burundi have stressed that Washington would not recognise any Government that came to power by force of arms - a warning to both the Army and to opposing militia.

A senior state security official was shot and wounded in front of the University campus on Wednesday and there were reports of a new massacre in central Burundi. More than fifty members of a mixed Hutu and Tutsi community in Kiganda were alleged by local residents to have been slaughtered on 17 May in reprisal for an earlier attack by Hutu rebels. UN officials confirmed that they had received reports of the massacre but said that details were very sketchy. A Defence Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that he was unaware of any incident near Kiganda. Human Rights monitors in Burundi who are investigating last month's Buhoro massacre and the Kivyuka massacre of 3 May are yet to make a public statement. The Government's own inquiry into the Buhoro massacre blamed Hutu rebels, displaced persons and people speaking Kinyarwanda for the killings.

# Zaire's border with Burundi, shut in April to stem the flow of Burundian refugees, will remain closed for some time, Zairian Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo said following a two day meeting with Government officials in Burundi last weekend. During their discussions, the two Governments decided to reactivate the Joint Defense and Security Commission set up in July 1995. The Commission has been charged with investigating complaints lodged against Zaire by Burundi. Burundi has accused Zaire of allowing Hutu rebels and refugees to use Zaire as a base from which to attack and destabilise Burundi. Burundi has also charged the Commission with locating Radio Democracy which has been accused of advocating racial hatred in Burundi.

US efforts to isolate President Mobutu Sese Seko appear to have ended with the visit this week by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose to Kinshasa. Officials have said that Moose's stopover was the first visit by such a high ranking official to Kinshasa since the US decided to isolate Mobutu in 1993 for "his obstruction of democracy". The visit is said to reflect the US's deep concern about the situation in Burundi and the increasing incidents of violence in Eastern Zaire.

# Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the UN, Manzi Bakuramutsa called on Friday for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the fate of some 3,000 Tutsis caught between armed groups in the fighting in Masisi in Eastern Zaire. The call came after NGO Medecin sans Frontieres issued a statement urging the UN to urgently evacuate the Tutsis - whose families mainly came from Rwanda in the 1920s or earlier - before they were killed. Ambassador Bakuramutsa, who is ending his assignment to the UN shortly, criticised the slow response of the Security Council to the situation and compared it to that which preceded the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In response to the deteriorating situation in Masisi and Rutshuru, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has decided to send a Humanitarian Mission to Zaire. The Mission, scheduled to arrive in Zaire on 31 May, will be led by the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs with representatives from UNHCR and UNICEF. Meetings will be held with the Government, UN agencies, ICRC, NGOs and donors in Kinshasa and Goma. The Mission will visit affected areas of North Kivu.

News agencies reported earlier this week that hundreds more Tutsis have arrived in Gisenyi in Rwanda. Most said that they were victims of an attack in Nyamitaba about 100 kilometers north of Goma on 2 April. The News Agency, Associated Press quotes the refugees as saying that the Rwandan and Zairian Hutus had joined forces to establish a Hutuland in the Masisi region by forcing out smaller ethnic groups.

`Petite Barriere, the camp for Zairean refugees in Rwanda' - now known as Umubano - held 6,567 people at the last count. Refugees still at Nkamira transit centre number less than 2,000. The longer term management of general food distribution to the camp is still under discussion, but health and nutritional programmes are underway, run by the NGOs Merlin and MSF-Belgium.

# Zaire-based Hutu militia are reported to have mounted three separate raids on jails in villages in Cyangugu prefecture on 19 and 20 May killing 46 detainees and seriously injuring five others. The most serious of the raids took place at Bugarama, some three kilometers from the borders with Zaire and Burundi. The militia was said to have used heavy arms which severely damaged the Bugarama jail. Detainees who escaped the carnage, however, are reported to have said that hand-grenades were thrown into the cells. The UN Human Rights Field Office in Rwanda is investigating the deaths. Earlier on 20 May, government offices in Nyakabuye, a village between Karengera and Bugarama, were attacked and the local jail destroyed. The previous night, government offices including the jail in Karengera, 18 kilometres from the Zaire border and north of Bugarama, were destroyed. More than 70 detainees escaped during the attack, but 22 were recaptured. On 10 May, other armed gangs crossed into the same commune and were said to have killed the Bourgmestre.

While it is still unclear why Hutu militia would kill their own ethnic group, insurgency attacks in Cyangugu have substantially increased in April and May. According to one of the assailants who was captured during the jail attacks, the armed men crossed into Rwanda via Burundi. Eight more people are reported to have been killed in new spates of violence in Cyangugu on Saturday 25 May. Four of the victims are said to be genocide survivors in Gafunzo village where suspected Hutu militia beheaded a local official last week and took his head with them as they fled. Rwandan army officers have said that a pre-emptive strike into Burundi's northwestern region of Citiboke to quell the infiltration can not be ruled out.

# Rwanda and Burundi agreed with neighbouring countries this week to speed up the voluntary return of its refugees. At a meeting in Geneva to monitor the implementation of agreements reached in Bujumbura in February 1995, it was decided that the UNHCR mass information campaign would be stepped up and that the separation of intimidators in refuge camps would be accelerated. At the meeting frustration was expressed over the lack of progress in efforts to persuade Rwandan refugees to return home.

# The trial of the Belgian army officer blamed for the murder of 10 of his men in Rwanda 1994 ended on Friday with the verdict still more than a month away. Colonel Luc Marchal told the court that he ordered his men to protect Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingimana because it was the "only option an honest man could have chosen". The 10 men, part of the Belgian contingent of the UN troops, were taken prisoner and hacked to death at the start of the 1994 genocide and massacres. Marchal has denied the charges and has said that the UN contingent was inadequately armed for the task it faced and was strictly curtailed in its field of action by the UN mandate. The case has raised serious questions about the responsibility placed on soldiers and commanders when they are sent as peacekeepers.

Belgium has received an extradition request from the UN International Tribunal for Rwandan former army Colonel Theoneste Bagosora who is in jail in Cameroon. Bagosora is wanted for questioning by Belgium over the murders of the 10 peacekeepers. The Tribunal has also requested provisional detention warrants for three other Rwandans also in custody in Cameroon.

# A workshop on Government-NGO collaboration was convened jointly by the Rwandan Ministry of Rehabilitation and Social Integration and UNDP on Wednesday. The main aims of the Workshop were to review the recommendations of the Draft Report of a joint Government/UN/NGO Evaluation Study mission undertaken in January through March 1996 and to identify mechanisms for implementing the adopted recommendations, as well as those which would contribute to transition from humanitarian assistance to sustainable development.

# Hundreds of people drowned when their vessel capsized and sank in Lake Victoria on Tuesday night in East Africa's worst maritime disaster. The disaster coincided with steps by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to establish joint search and rescue proceedings and to map the Lake for the first time since 1950. The vessel, Mv Bukoba (capacity 433 passengers) was plying the ports of Mwanza in the south and Bukoba in the northwest of Tanzania. Almost 200 bodies have been recovered so far. The Tanzanian Ministry of Transport and Communications has put the figure aboard the vessel at 661 but independent assessors and survivors agreed that the real figure was closer to 1,000.

# Several Ministers and supporters of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni sailed into Parliament unopposed after a blanket boycott of the country's June 27 legislative elections by the opposition. At the end of nominations on Tuesday, up to 12 members of Museveni's National Resistance Movement, including eight Cabinet Ministers, were declared elected into Parliament unopposed. Parliamentary opposition figures, Dr. Paul Ssemogerere and Muhammed Mayanja have said that the presidential elections were rigged and that they would not stand in the forthcoming elections. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), meanwhile, is reported to have attacked a northern village earlier this week, looting food and household property and abducting several people.

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-> The material contained in this communication may not be taken
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From: Christopher Hurd <> Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 19:01:47 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 18 - 25 May (96.5.25) Message-Id: <>

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

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