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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.]
IRIN Weekly Roundup 5-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 19-25 May 1997.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): New cabinet announced
DRC President Laurent Kabila, who arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday night, announced his new cabinet late Thursday. Notable by his absence from the list was Etienne Tshisekedi, populist leader of the opposition Democratic Union for Social Progress (UPDS), who was widely expected to receive a government post. Thirteen ministers were named to the new government, seven posts remain to be filled. The government has no prime minister and Kabila takes the defence portfolio. The new authorities have ruled out elections in the near future. Secretary-general of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), Deo Bugera, said the new government would derive its authority from village-level democracy.
DRC: Tshisekedi supporters demonstrate against Kabila
Supporters of Tshisekedi demonstrated in Kinshasa on Friday over his exclusion from the government. Several hundred mostly student demonstrators marched to the American embassy branding Kabila a dictator, but were dispersed by ADFL troops firing in the air. Local newspapers in Kinshasa reported growing concern among residents over indiscipline among some ADFL members. On Tuesday, two French businessmen were killed by men wearing uniforms on the outskirts of Kinshasa. The killings were condemned by the ADFL. It was believed the deaths were a settling of scores rather than political killings.
Morocco: Mobutu arrives
Ousted president Mobutu Sese Seko arrived in the Moroccan capital Rabat from Togo for a "short stay", according to Moroccan radio. His future plans are unclear, but France has said any request for asylum "would be examined". An ADFL spokesman in Paris warned that bombs would be planted in the French capital if Mobutu was given exile in the country. Kabila has reportedly offered to let Mobutu return home with guarantees of his personal safety if the former ruler brings back his amassed wealth and contributes to the country's reconstruction.
DRC: Refugees airlifted from Mbandaka
UNHCR on Friday began airlifting Rwandan refugees from Mbandaka in northwest DRC. Tens of thousands of their counterparts have arrived in neighbouring Congo where they are being assisted by UNHCR and aid agencies. Some 3,000 are being brought down by barge from Liranga to a site (Bilolo) nearer to Brazzaville, where it will be easier to administer assistance. Relief workers were forced to suspend operations in Kisangani, eastern DRC, on Wednesday after students held violent protests against the killing of a colleague by ADFL soldiers who were reportedly trying to rob him. The last remaining Rwandan refugees at Biaro camp, 52kms south of Kisangani, were evacuated during the week and taken to the city's transit camp.
Central African Republic: Thousands arrive from DRC
Tens of thousands of people from DRC, including former Zairean military officers and businessmen, arrived in the Central African Republic. According to a UNHCR spokeswoman in Geneva, as many as 20,000 had fled into CAR, some converging on the border town of Mobaye, others arriving in the capital Bangui where the situation is already tense due to protests by mutinous soldiers. Some reports said ex-FAZ and ex-FAR soldiers were being recruited to fight alongside rebel CAR soldiers. Those fleeing DRC also included Rwandan, Sudanese and Burundian refugees.
Burundi: CNDD-government talks spark student demos
The extremist rebel organisation National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) on Friday rejected an invitation from the Burundian government to attend all-party peace talks in Geneva next month. A spokesman said the CNDD wanted to continue bilateral talks with the government already underway in Rome, but did not wish to widen the dialogue. President Pierre Buyoya, who met his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Friday, requested that Burundi be allowed to join the East African Community, which currently groups Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Buyoya also called for a total lifting of the economic embargo against his country. On Monday, police in Bujumbura broke up a demonstration of some 400 university students protesting against government negotiations with the CNDD and calling for Buyoya's resignation.
Burundi: Violence claims over 80 lives
National radio said 20 people were killed in an attack by Hutu rebels on Wednesday in Gitanga, southern Burundi. In other violent incidents, 63 people were killed and 12 injured in attacks on regroupment camps in the Buganda and Mugwi communes of Cibitoke province, the radio reported.
Burundi/Rwanda: Concern over food situation
FAO, in its latest report this month, described the food situation in Burundi as "very tight", despite the relaxation of economic sanctions. This was due, the report said, to a poor first harvest this year and continuing civil strife. Average food prices increased by more than 40-50 percent compared to early 1996. In Rwanda, the FAO said huge numbers of returning refugees and the deteriorating situation in areas bordering DRC had aggravated an already precarious food situation. One third of the population was thought to be at risk.
Rwanda: Genocide survivors protest against ICTR prosecutor
A demonstration organised by IBUKA, the organisation for Rwanda's genocide survivors, was held on Friday in protest at the visit to Kigali of Louise Arbour, prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Several hundred demonstrators brandished placards demanding to know how the US$40 billion spent so far on the Arusha-based tribunal had been used and why none of the defendants had yet been sentenced. The Rwandan government has frequently criticised the tribunal, accusing it of incompetence and claiming the money spent on the trials would be better used for Rwanda's reconstruction. Switzerland meanwhile extradited genocide suspect Alfred Musema to stand trial in Arusha.
Uganda: Army dislodges rebels
Press reports claimed the Ugandan army had dislodged rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from hideouts in Kitgum district. A military officer said they were fleeing towards Atanga in Aru county but many had surrendered. A number of rebels were said to have been killed in recent fighting in the Kitgum area.
Sudan: Regional summit cancelled
A regional summit on the conflict between Sudan and Uganda, due to have been held in Nairobi this week, has been cancelled, according to a Kenyan foreign ministry spokesman. Leaders of countries belonging to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) were instead preparing to attend the OAU summit in Harare next week. Sudan and Uganda trade mutual accusations of supporting their rebel organisations based in each other's territory, but earlier this month they pledged to end hostilities and "open a new chapter" in bilateral ties.
Sudan: Rebels hold most of central province
John Garang's rebel SPLA movement was in control of most of the central Bahr el Ghazal province after capturing Gogrial on Tuesday. The SPLA said it was advancing on the main town of Wau, 80 kms south of Gogrial, and on the oilfields around Bentiu to the northeast. Earlier this month, the rebels captured the towns of Rumbek and Tonj, also in Bahr el Ghazal.
Angola: Peace process under threat
Military analysts in Luanda, quoted by Reuters, said the Angolan army moved into northwestern areas over the past week to take back territory under the control of the former rebel group UNITA. The move threatens the fragile peace accord between the government and the former rebels. At least 11 people were reported killed in the army operation which, according to military and expatriate sources, was aimed at clearing areas overrun by refugees from DRC, and UNITA supporters.
Kenya: Churches warn Moi on reform
Kenya's leading church bodies have joined forces, presenting President Daniel arap Moi with an ultimatum to carry out consitutional reform before this year's general election, the date of which still has to be announced. In a joint press conference, the Catholic Church and (Protestant) National Council of Churches of Kenya on Thursday demanded "minimal constitutional reforms", including separation of powers, voter sovereignty, and freedom of association. Unless the demands were met, church leaders said they would take "other measures (which) we will mention when the time comes". Sources told the 'EastAfrican' weekly that the churches' decision to make the public pronouncements indicated "unhappiness at the response they had received in private meetings with the Head of State". Moi has accused the clergy of "dictatorship".
Nairobi, 26 May 1997, 14:00 gmt [ENDS]
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Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 17:29:15 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 5-97 19-25 May 97 97.5.26 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970526172159.8141Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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