Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 2-97 28 Apr-4 May 97 97.5.5

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 2-97 28 Apr-4 May 97 97.5.5

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for the Great Lakes

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

[The weekly roundup will be 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 2-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 28 April - 4 May 1997.

ZAIRE: Face-to face talks finally kick off

After a week of procrastination and diplomatic manoeuvring, Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko and rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila finally held direct talks on board a South African navy vessel in Congo. The week saw frantic diplomacy involving both South Africa and the USA. US envoy to the UN Bill Richardson shuttled between Mobutu in Kinshasa and Kabila in Lubumbashi, trying to persuade the two sides to negotiate a peaceful transition of power in the country. South African officials remained optimistic that the elusive talks would take place, as both sides agreed to attend, then came up with various reasons for not taking part. On Friday, President Nelson Mandela arrived in Pointe Noire on the Congolese coast, followed later in the day by Mobutu but Kabila stalled expressing fears for his security. The talks eventually began on Sunday, but few results emerged. A joint communique said the two sides would meet again in 10 days' time. Mobutu's position was that he would hand over power to an elected president. Kabila's stand all along has been that Mobutu must step down from office. According to the 'New York Times' on Sunday, Mobutu had written to President Clinton offering to resign.

ZAIRE: Rebels press on towards Kinshasa

Despite attempts to reach a peaceful solution to the Zairean crisis, rebels from Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) continued their advance towards the capital Kinshasa, taking the strategic town of Kikwit en route. According to the rebels, Kikwit fell on Wednesday and Zairean troops reportedly fled ahead of the rebels' arrival, leaving behind food and weapons. The rebels then marched on towards Kenge, although a Zairean defence ministry spokemsan said FAZ troops had regrouped ready for a counter-offensive. The ADFL is now said to be some 60 kms from Kinshasa and advancing on several fronts. In a significant gain, Mobutu's birthplace, Lisala, fell to the rebels last week, according to a Catholic priest in Kinshasa. The town lies towards Zaire's border with the Central African Republic. The government has not commented on the claim.

ZAIRE: Growing indications of Angolan support for rebels

Allegations of Angolan assistance to the rebels increased last week, all strenuously denied by the Angolan government. The former Angolan rebel group UNITA claimed the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos had stationed five battalions in Zaire, in addition to providing the ADFL with food, equipment and combat technical assistance. Joint OAU-UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes region Mohamed Sahnoun held talks with dos Santos, saying the OAU and UN were keen to make use of the Angolan president's "good offices". Meanwhile, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi denied his movement had sent troops into Zaire on the side of the country's embattled army and the ADFL rejected reports it was using Angola as a rear base.

ZAIRE: Refugee repatriation underway as rebels criticised

It was a traumatic week for tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees, gradually emerging from forests south of Kisangani after first fleeing violence in their camps. ADFL rebels came under growing international criticism for their alleged mistreatment of the refugees. The UN Security Council urged the ADFL to take "appropriate action" against any of its members who mistreated refugees and civilians, while the US State Department warned that Kabila's credibility was at stake if the allegations persisted. Kabila reportedly waived a 60-day deadline imposed for repatriating the refugees who scrambled to leave the insanitary Biaro camp, 41 kilometres south of Kisangani. At the end of the week, UNHCR said some 30,000 of the missing 85,000 refugees had re-emerged at Biaro, but the two camps further north at Kasese were still empty. Humanitarian workers, faced with the arrival of large groups of refugees in Kisangani, managed to launch the airlift, returning refugees directly to Rwanda. The rebel authorities also initiated the process by placing hundreds of refugees on trains north to Kisangani. Over 2,000 refugees were airlifted back to Rwanda at the weekend. Tragedy struck on Sunday when at least 90 refugees were crushed to death in a train bringing them to Kisangani. Thousands of people had tried to crowd onto the train as it left Biaro.

ZAIRE: Refugee movements reported in other areas

As world attention focused on the Kisangani refugees, reports came to light of tens of thousands of refugees moving in other parts of Zaire. Humanitarian sources reported some 35,000 were trying to reach Mbandaka, some 500 kms northeast of Kinshasa. However, local authorities said they constituted a security risk as they comprised a large number of ex-FAR/Interahamwe members. For this reason, attempts were underway to prevent them reaching Mbandaka and channel them towards Irebu near the Congolese border. Further south, Angolan media reports claimed 12,000 refugees had arrived on Angola's border with Zaire.

ZAIRE: Abducted children handed over

In Bukavu, ADFL rebels handed over to aid workers 52 children abducted from a hospital near the town last weekend, along with 10 adults who were also taken. UNICEF said the children were in "pretty bad condition". The fate of a number of other adults who were also taken away was not known, but observers point out that the targets of the abduction may have been adult ex-FAR/Interahamwe members.

RWANDA: Horrific massacre in Gisenyi

Seventeen schoolgirls were among 22 people slaughtered in Gisenyi prefecture during an attack on their school in Muramba. The dead included a Belgian nun. Nineteen alleged attackers were killed in a two-day operation last week by security forces, following tip-offs from the local population. Rwandan radio said the 19 were members of a 150-strong group, made up of ex-FAR soldiers. The perpetrators burst into the school and ordered the students to separate according to their ethnic origin, but the children refused. The Rwandan authorities say there have been several similar attacks of late, in which victims have been ordered to identify their ethnicity.

RWANDA: Switzerland to hand over genocide suspect

The Swiss authorities approved the transfer of a Rwandan genocide suspect to Arusha, Tanzania, so that he could be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Alfred Musema, a former tea factory manager in Kibuye prefecture, had been in a Swiss prison since February 1995. He is accused of organising or participating in the 1994 slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. His appeal against extradition was turned down by the Swiss Federal Court on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a new ICTR deputy prosecutor was named to replace Honore Rakotomanana of Madagascar, who resigned after coming under strong UN criticism of his performance. The new man is Bernard Acho Muna of Cameroon.

BURUNDI: ITEKA says regroupment benefits security

A report issued by the Burundian human rights group, Iteka, on the regroupment policy in Kayanza and Karuzi provinces concluded that security had improved as a result of the programme. However it warned that the government must not rely on the policy as a permanent solution to the conflict in Burundi. The report noted that people in the regroupment centres were able to farm their land during the day and highlighted the disparity with regard to displaced people's camps where there was no such provision. Hygiene conditions were very poor in the regroupment camps and the government must ensure that there were acceptable levels of sanitation, the report said. It called on the humanitarian community to render the same assistance to displaced and regrouped people, so that the latter did not become the victims of policy differences between the government and humanitarian organisations.

BURUNDI: Over 40 killed in attack on seminary

A spokesman for Burundi's Tutsi-dominated army accused Hutu rebels of killing over 40 people during a raid on a seminary in Buta, Bururi province on Tuesday. Thirty-four students and seven lay members were killed, and another 34 people injured. Fighting continued to rage in the troubled southern provinces. The spokesman said the army had killed about 300 rebels in Makamba province since fighting broke out early last month. According to Rwandan radio, ex-FAR, Interahamwe and ex-FAZ troops were fighting alongside the Burundian rebels who, it said, had changed their tactics from guerrilla to conventional warfare.

BURUNDI: Tension mounts on border with Tanzania

Burundi military spokesman Maj. Pascal Nimubona on Monday warned of the increasing threat to his country from rebels based in Tanzania. Some 3,000 peasants had fled their smallholdings since last month's rebel offensive and were taking refuge in missions and government buildings. Nimubona warned that Burundi would not tolerate the "activities of these terrorists coming from Tanzania". Burundi's military leader Pierre Buyoya meanwhile sent a delegation, led by Health Minister Juma Kalibujo, to meet Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa for talks on border security.

TANZANIA: Cholera kills 92

An outbreak of cholera in the Tanzania capital Dar-es-Salaam has killed at least 92 people since January. Regional commissioner Brig-Gen Hussan Ngwilizi said the disease was spreading rapidly due to poor sanitation in the city.

TANZANIA: Cooperation accord signed with Egypt

Visiting Eygptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa signed a cooperation agreement with his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete in Arusha on Wednesday. The accord covers agriculture, tourism, information technology, culture, travel and investments.

TANZANIA: East African leaders pledge closer economic ties

Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda met in Arusha on Tuesday and elaborated a comprehensive action plan aimed at guiding regional economic integration through to the year 2000. Following the meeting, Moi said he hoped economic integration would lead to a political federation in East Africa. The three leaders also launched a common flag and regional passport.

UGANDA: Museveni rules out talks with rebels

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told parliament on Monday his government would not hold peace talks with rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army. He accused rebel leader Joseph Kony of not fighting for political aims, but "for a style of living he cannot afford through legal toil". According to Ugandan radio, Museveni said the government would not "take the road of capitulation to criminal evil".

UGANDA: Surge in rebel activity

Renewed fighting broke out in Uganda's southwest Kasese area last week after attacks launched by another rebel group, the Allied Democratic Force (ADF). Press reports said the army killed 50 ADF rebels after they laid an ambush in Muhambo, Bugoye district last Monday. Ten Ugandan soldiers also lost their lives. The Ugandan army was reportedly pursuing rebels who were retreating to their bases in the mountains. In other incidents, 14 LRA rebels were killed in two days of fighting in the Gulu area last week. Several rebels were also captured.

Nairobi, 5 May 1997, 14:00 GMT [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

--- Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 16:58:13 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 2-97 28 Apr-4 May 97 97.5.5 Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific