IRIN Weekly Round-up 22-98 for 22-28 May 98.5.29

IRIN Weekly Round-up 22-98 for 22-28 May 98.5.29

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 22-98 covering the period 22-28 May 1998

UGANDA: DRC warns Kampala to stop "interfering"

In a sign of deteriorating relations with its erstwhile ally, the Democratic Republic of Congo warned Uganda to stop interfering in its internal affairs, the Agence congolaise de presse reported. Addressing a news conference last Friday, Economy Minister Victor Mpoyo accused President Yoweri Museveni of insulting his DRC counterpart Laurent-Desire Kabila. Mpoyo advised Museveni to "take care of affairs in his own country". "There are no regional leaders," he said. "Each country has its own leader and therefore we don't want Museveni to denigrate our head of state." Museveni was among several presidents who failed to attend a regional summit in Kinshasa, which was later cancelled. Uganda has accused DRC of failing to stop rebel activity and incursions into neighbouring countries.

The state-owned 'New Vision' this week reported Museveni would respond to the allegations. His press secretary Hope Kivengere was quoted as saying the government would not engage in a press war over the issue which would be tackled at presidential level.

Army confirms major LRA offensive in north

Ugandan army chief-of-staff Brigadier James Kazini has confirmed a major incursion by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army into northern Uganda, led by Joseph Kony from his base in south Sudan. Kazini told AFP on Monday some 23 rebels were killed in a gunbattle with the army on Friday in Gulu district. He said he believed large numbers of rebels had crossed over from Sudan because they feared they were likely to lose Khartoum's support. "Now we are normalising relations with Sudan, I think Kony suspects that they might change their attitude towards him," Kazini said.

LRA rebels attack health centre, expand sphere of operation

LRA rebels last week attacked a Catholic health centre at Orungo in Soroti district, eastern Uganda, looting drugs worth 6 million Ugandan shillings, the 'New Vision' reported last Friday. They also abducted eight people, including a 10 year-old girl. Eyewitnesses said hundreds of rebels entered from Lira district. They left a letter with a nun at the health centre inviting the people and a reporter to meet them. The army later said some 200 rebels were on the run and the situation was under control. News reports point out this was the first time rebels had spread out so far east from their northern hideouts.

Rebels trapped on two fronts

On Wednesday, the 'New Vision' said LRA rebels were trapped on two fronts by Ugandan troops. It cited security sources as saying Ugandan forces counter-attacked in the Lira district, surrounding the rebels in the Apala and Olilim areas. The trapped rebels are believed to be led by LRA second-in-command Vincent Otti Lagony.

Rebels refuse to link schoolgirl releases to freeing of Sudanese POWs

LRA rebels have rejected demands by President Yoweri Museveni to free 21 schoolgirls abducted from Uganda's northern Lira district in 1995. According to the 'New Vision' on Monday, an LRA press release said any attempt to rescue the girls by force would result in their death. Uganda last week released 42 of 114 Sudanese prisoners "as a goodwill gesture". The LRA press release said the rebels would free the girls "at the right time".

Interahamwe attack Ugandan villages

The 'New Vision' also reported that Rwandan Interahamwe militiamen attacked villages in Kisoro county, southwest Uganda, last Thursday looting and destroying property. Local officials said the rebels threatened residents, sending them fleeing in panic. Four unarmed Interahamwe members were arrested by Mganinga Park wardens and are being interrogated. According to a local official, the attackers "are not killers, they are after property".

RWANDA: Government resettling villagers in northwest

Government officials have begun resettling thousands of villagers displaced by war in northwest Rwanda, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. It quoted Rwandan radio as saying food items and farming implements were distributed to about 20,000 internally displaced residents in Ruhengeri prefecture. On Monday, local officials launched a campaign urging residents to maintain security in their communes. The following day, some 30,000 people from the prefecture gathered at Kigombe soccer stadium to take part in festivities aimed at depicting the negative effects of war, RNA said. Interior Minister Abdul Kharim Harelimana urged residents to desist from supporting insurgents and to denounce anyone collaborating with them. "Let this week be a week of restoring security in Ruhengeri," he said.

WFP to provide food aid to northwest

In its latest weekly report, WFP said it had carried out initial assessments after the government requested food assistance for 95,230 displaced people in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi prefectures. WFP pointed out no international organisations were fully operational in the prefectures which made detailed assessment difficult. The food agency plans to deliver 1,220 mt of food aid to the displaced people over a period of one month.

Rebels using children, radio says

According to Rwandan radio on Monday, rebels in northwest Rwanda are using children in their war against the government. It said 60 children abducted by militiamen had turned themselves in to the army in Nyamutera commune, north of Kigali. The children had reportedly been used by the rebels to spread anti-government pamphlets and spy on the army.

Army launches major offensive against rebels in northwest

The Rwandan army has killed seven Interahamwe militiamen in a major sweep in the northwest, a military source said, according to AFP. The incident occurred on Saturday in Ngilu, near the town of Ruhengeri. The source said the RPA had been waging a "fairly large campaign after a mass return of civilians who had followed the militiamen to the volcano district". He said such returnees often provided the army with details of the militiamen's hideouts. Rwandan radio last Thursday reported over 4,000 people had returned home from the Virunga mountains where they were "collaborating with infiltrators to destabilise peace and security". The Rwanda News Agency, quoting officials in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, also reported on Thursday that as many as 50,000 people may have returned to the northwestern regions over the last month.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Six ministers arrested or questioned

The DRC daily 'La Reference Plus' on Tuesday reported six DRC ministers were either under arrest or being interrogated. It said Information Minister Raphael Ghenda, Minister without Portfolio Kambale Mututulo and International Cooperation Minister Celestin Lwangi were under arrest, while Energy Minister Pierre Lokombe, Planning Minister Etienne Mbaya and Industry Minister Babi Mbayi were reportedly undergoing interrogation. No official explanation was given, but 'La Reference Plus' said the arrests of Ghenda and Lwangi could be linked to the airing of the film 'Never Again' which depicts atrocities allegedly committed during the liberation war. 'Le Potentiel' said the president's "directeur de cabinet" Yerodia Ndombasi was also questioned in connection with the film, but he was reportedly released later.

According to 'Le Potentiel', video footage shows soldiers of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) standing next to the bodies of "presumed Rwandan Hutu refugees". The newspaper said the film was authorised to be aired on national television by a committee charged with organising the Kinshasa regional summit earlier this month which later failed to take place. The committee included Yerodia Ndombasi and Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha, 'Le Potentiel' said. "Their aim was to show that the current authorities in Kinshasa never again wanted to see such acts of barbarism in the Democratic Republic of Congo," it wrote.

Transitional constituent assembly established

The authorities have established a transitional constituent assembly to draw up a draft constitution for the DRC. According to a BBC report, the assembly was created by presidential decree and will have legislative powers. It specifically excludes anyone who held public office during the regime of former president Mobutu Sese Seko.

Troops, rebels clash near Goma

More details have emerged over an incident near Goma last week in which some 30 people were killed. AFP quoted diplomatic sources in Kinshasa as saying a gunfight broke out between government troops and unidentified rebels last weekend on the Butembo-Goma road. The Belgian embassy in Kigali confirmed a 24 year-old Belgian national was among the dead. He had reportedly been on a visit to Goma from Kampala.

Kalehe region reportedly unstable

The security situation in the Kalehe area of South Kivu is going "from bad to worse", according to a report in 'La Reference Plus' on Tuesday. It said the civilian population had become the "favourite target" of the military. The newspaper claimed the local people had become caught up in fighting between Banyamulenge soldiers and Rwandan Interahamwe militiamen. Agricultural activity had been abandoned as people migrated towards urban centres, the paper added.

BURUNDI: 500 arrested in security sweep

Over 500 people were arrested in Bujumbura on Thursday in a security sweep against rebels and illegal immigrants, according to AFP. Police sources said they conducted a raid in the central market area of the city, searching for Burundi rebels as well as Rwandans and Congolese who were in the country illegally. Rumours were circulating last week that ex-FAR, ex-FAZ and Burundi rebels had arrived in Bujumbura, AFP reported.

Nyerere threatens to quit as mediator if Buyoya not recognised

Burundi peace mediator Julius Nyerere has threatened to resign if the conflicting sides refuse to recognise the authority of President Pierre Buyoya, the Tanzanian 'Guardian' daily reported this week. "Major Buyoya may be an illegitimate president but the fact remains that he is the current president in power," Nyerere was quoted as saying. "If they say they don't recognise him, it will be foolishness. I will then pack my things and call it quits as I would have no work left to do." He said "recognition of Major Buyoya's influence" was a precondition for the Burundi peace talks which are due to resume in Arusha on 15 June, the newspaper reported.

SUDAN: "Devastation" in Twic county, Bahr al-Ghazal

Armed militia allied to the Khartoum government, have killed an unknown number of civilians and burnt villages and markets in a series of raids starting on 4 May in Bahr al-Ghazal. A spokesman for Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) told IRIN last Friday that several villages in Twic county, northeast of Gogrial were "devastated" by the "punitive" attacks. Up to a thousand men, travelling on horseback, were involved in the attacks NPA, said.

WFP revises number needing food aid

WFP has revised upwards the target number of people for food assistance in Bahr al-Ghazal state. It announced it would feed some 595,000 people, 380,000 of whom are in critical need of food aid for survival. WFP says the number of people requiring emergency food relief has increased from six weeks ago. The total number of people requiring food aid throughout south Sudan has also been revised upwards from 700,000 to 930,000. Eastern Equatoria and Wester Upper Nile are giving increasing cause for concern, WFP says in a news brief on Sudan.

Meanwhile, WFP said the first UN relief food barge convoy this year arrived in Juba last Thursday, after leaving the port of Malakal five weeks ago. The convoy of seven barge, carrying a total of 2,040 mt of cereals and pulses, stopped in 32 villages along the way.

NDA meets in Cairo to discuss how to topple Bashir

Sudan's opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) this week began a round of talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo to examine ways of launching an "intifada" against the Khartoum government, AFP reported. It quoted NDA spokesman Faruq Abu Issa who said the intifada was the main topic on the agenda. The NDA groups northern opponents to the government and southern rebels. Issa said the "unprecedented" talks were a "step forward for the opposition's struggle against the government to overthrow it". AFP noted the meeting is the first outside the Eritrean capital Asmara, where the NDA has its headquarters.

Nairobi, 29 May 1998


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

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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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 426 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 29 May 1998)

[Reminder to subscribers: please note there was no update yesterday]

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: More ministers arrested

DRC Agriculture Minister, Mawapanga Mawa Nanga, was arrested last night (Thursday), allegedly for corruption, the Kinshasa daily 'Le Phare' reported. In addition, the political adviser to Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha has been detained since the beginning of the week. The arrest of Professor Biyoya Makutu is reportedly linked to an article published Monday in 'La Reference Plus' in which he analysed DRC foreign policy since Kabila came to power. According to Reuters, Biyoya was quoted as saying: "Instead of reconstruction becoming the main objective to which our energy should be devoted, we replaced it with the desire to affirm our sovereignty".

RWANDA: 20 rebels killed in Gisenyi prefecture

The Rwandan army killed more than 20 Interahamwe militiamen on Wednesday during clashes in Gisenyi prefecture, the Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday. It said the violence occurred at Busasamana transit camp in Rwerere commune. At least 50 villagers were injured. RNA said militiamen, armed with guns and traditional weapons, raided the camp "in a bid to exterminate Hutu villagers who had just escaped from their hideouts in the volcano mountains". Gisenyi governor Jean-Baptiste Muhirwa told RNA the rebels were not pleased to see people "turning their backs on them". Thousands of villagers have reportedly dissociated themselves from the rebels and are resettling in their homes.

UGANDA: Kony escapes army trap

Rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony has dodged government forces in Gulu district and crossed into neighbouring Kitgum, news agencies reported yesterday. Another group of about 150 rebels are believed to have escaped encirclement by the army in Lira district and also crossed into Kitgum district. "They are now all roaming around and moving in uninhabited areas in Aswa Ranch," a defence ministry official told AFP. He added that the latest LRA group, which entered Uganda last Friday, managed to cross from their bases in southern Sudan because the army had not yet deployed properly at the Sudan-Uganda border. Army officials estimate a total of 800 LRA rebels are inside Uganda.

SUDAN: Garang meets Kerubino, urges Machar to rejoin SPLA

SPLA leader John Garang has met maverick rebel commander Kerubino Kwanyin Bol in southwestern Bahr al-Jabal for the first time since Kerubino returned to the rebel side in the civil war. An SPLA spokesman told AFP that Garang was "satisfied" that Kerubino had come back to the SPLA. Garang also called on Riak Machar, leader of the southern group which has signed a peace deal with Khartoum, to return to rebel ranks.

Conflict continues in Blue Nile, Bahr al-Ghazal, Biah State

Meanwhile, in southern Blue Nile province, on the Ethiopian border, the SPLA claims to have repulsed a government offensive in the "biggest battle for a year." An SPLA spokesman said that 300 government troops were killed in yesterday's battle in two areas southeast of Damazin. In other fighting, BBC TV this week reported more government-aligned militia raids in Bahr al-Ghazal. The attacks on civilian targets followed reports last Friday from Norwegian People's Aid of similar raids northeast of Gogrial. A Khartoum newspaper today said that 10,000 horsemen of the Rizaiqat ethnic group had been involved in attacks on northern Bahr al-Ghazal, AFP reported. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir made a short visit to Wau in Bahr al-Ghazal yesterday and said that the government was determined to "free all regions occupied by the rebels peacefully or by force." A humanitarian source told IRIN today of new tension in Biah state, in the transitional zone between north and south. The conflict may involve internal disputes within Riak Machar's South Sudan Defence Force, the source said.

Egypt discusses "democracy" with Sudanese rebels

Egypt's Foreign Minister met with the Sudanese rebel grouping, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Cairo yesterday, Reuters reported. NDA leader Mohammad Mirghani heard Foreign Minister Youssef Wali say that Egypt "will not accept separatist moves", but a spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army, a member of the NDA, said the meeting discussed Egypt's role in helping Sudan achieve democracy.

ANGOLA: Beye holds talks with Chiluba

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, held talks in Lusaka yesterday with Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, AFP reported. No details of the talks were revealed. Zambia has been accused by Luanda of allowing UNITA to maintain bases on its territory. Zambia has persistently denied the allegations.

ANGOLA/SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa seizes weapons imported from Angola

Chinese-made mortars, anti-personnel mines and hand grenades were seized at a Johannesburg airport on Tuesday after entering the country aboard a flight from Angola, AFP reported. According to South African police, the seizure followed a tip-off after the weapons were off-loaded and stored in a warehouse at Lanseria airport. Despite not having the necessary documentation, the illegal shipment passed through customs on the pretext that the weapons would be used for "demonstration and training" purposes, AFP said. According to a recent survey, South Africa is awash with between three and four million illegal weapons, imported from several countries in the region, chief among them Angola.

Human Rights Watch condemns expulsion of human rights activist

Human Rights Watch yesterday condemned Namibia's alleged forcible return of an Angolan refugee and human rights activist to Angola. Manuel Neto, who has not lived in Angola for many years, was arrested on 18 May and deported the following day, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. Neto is the Executive Director of the Angolan Human Rights League. The Namibian authorities claim that Neto's activities constituted a threat to national security. "We are very worried for the safety of Dr. Neto. He has not been seen since May 18," said Peter Takirambudde, Human Rights Watch's executive director for Africa.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Minister dismissed for alleged corruption

CAR Mines and Energy Minister Joseph Agbo has been dismissed, AFP reported. It said he was accused of interfering with the course of justice in a case involving diamond dealing. According to AFP, some observers indicated that this move is part of the prime minister's policy to put an end to corruption in the diamond industry. Others interpret it as a sign of an internal dispute within the ruling party, the Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC), of which Agbo is a member..

BURUNDI: 100 detainees freed

The authorities today (Friday) released 100 out of 527 people detained in a security sweep in Bujumbura on Wednesday. AFP quoted police chief Emile Manisha as saying they were freed after relatives gave proof of their identity. The security forces had launched a sweep against Burundian rebels and illegal Rwandan and DRC immigrants, following rumours last week that ex-FAZ, ex-FAR and Burundi insurgents had arrived in Bujumbura.

Nairobi, 29 May 1998 15:10 GMT


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 15:47:05 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 22-98 for 22-28 May 98.5.29

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

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