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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 19-98 covering the period 1-7 May 1998
RWANDA: Annan blames lack of political will for genocide
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has blamed the failure to prevent the 1994 genocide on a "lack of political will" and not on a lack of information. The failure was "local, national, international, including member states with capacity, it was the failure of all of us," he told a press conference in Nairobi on Monday . Annan was responding to allegations in the 'New Yorker' magazine of 3 May that DPKO, which he then headed, essentially dismissed warnings of the impending genocide.
"No one can deny that the world failed the people of Rwanda. But the crucial issue today is not how to apportion blame with the benefit of hindsight. Rather, we should be asking how we can ensure that such a tragedy can never happen again, and how the international community can best assist the people and government of Rwanda in the enormously difficult process of rebuilding a united community and healing the wounds of the past," Annan also said in a statement released in Nairobi.
Dallaire ordered not to intervene - 'New Yorker'
In its latest edition, the 'New Yorker' magazine said Annan ordered UN peacekeepers not to intervene after receiving a fax from General Romeo Dallaire, dated 11 January 1994. Dallaire, a Canadian, was then Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. Dallaire passed on a report from a high-level informant in the Rwandan government who was ordered to compile lists of Tutsis in the capital Kigali. The informant, a former member of the security staff of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, said that his personnel "could kill up to a thousand Tutsis" in 20 minutes, the fax said. He offered to assist the UN force in raiding Hutu militia weapons caches, and Dallaire notified the UN headquarters he intended to conduct such a raid in the next 36 hours. DPKO responded that the operation could not be allowed under the mission's mandate, and suggested Dallaire share the information with Habyarimana.
Annan said his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali pushed member states so hard to give the "UN the capacity, the facility, to do something in Rwanda" but got nowhere. He said he shared Dallaire's view that if one had reinforced the brigade "hundreds of thousands" of lives could have been saved.
Annan praises work of Arusha tribunal
Annan arrived in Arusha on Tuesday and praised "improvements" in the workings of the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). "I am proud of the improvements you have made in the tribunal's work over the last year," Annan said. On Monday, Annan dismissed suggestions the ICTR could be moved to Nairobi as mere "rumours".
Former government official arrested on genocide charges
The Rwandan authorities have arrested a former government official in connection with the 1994 genocide. Rwandan radio said it took over two years of investigations before Antoine Bizimana, a former "directeur de cabinet" in the prime minister's office, could be arrested. He was arrested in his home commune of Mbazi, Butare prefecture, following "irrefutable proof" of his involvement in the genocide. Butare prosecutor Martin Ngoga said Bizimana's trial could begin in less than two weeks.
Torrential rains lead to road closures
Heavy rains and flooding have led the closure of parts of two major trunk roads, WFP said in its latest weekly report. Mud slides have blocked the road between Butare in Cyangugu, while a section of the road connecting Kigali to Gisenyi has been washed away, leading to the diversion of traffic.
Refugee population stands at over 34,000
In its report, WFP said the refugee population in Rwanda currently stands at 34,710. Of these 31,771 Congolese are accommodated in camps at Byumba and Kibuye and 2,939 Burundians stay at three camps in Cyangugu, Butare and Gikongoro. The Congolese caseload continues to rise, while Burundian refugees are slowly returning home in small numbers. Burundian refugees are also repatriating voluntarily from camps in Kibondo, Tanzania, WFP said.
ICTR convicts former prime minister of genocide
Handing down its first-ever verdict, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Friday convicted former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda on six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity after he pleaded guilty to all charges. Sentencing will follow at a later date, yet to be announced. The plea could allow Kambanda to become a chief prosecution witness in other cases. Meanwhile, 15 genocide suspects, held in Kigali central prison, have confessed to their involvement in the slaughter and asked for clemency, Rwandan radio reported.
Deputy prosecutor Bernard Muna told a press conference that Kambanda would be prepared to testify in other cases before the UN court, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. "He indicated that if he was asked to testify on the events that he knows about, he would not hesitate to do so," Muna said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the plea and conviction as a "very important step".
Rwandan government hails guilty plea
The Rwandan government hailed the guilty plea, but said
it was hardly surprising. "It is no surprise that
Kambanda has pleaded guilty," Rwandan Foreign
Affairs Minister Anastase Gasana told the Rwanda News
Agency, RNA. He said Kambanda had been very well aware
of the weight of evidence against him. "It would
be very much appreciated if he reveals all he knows
about the genocide plan, its organisation and how it
was carried out throughout the country," Gasana
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed to expand the international tribunal judging the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in an effort to speed up the investigations. News reports said the council last Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution to establish a third trial chamber.
BURUNDI: ACF opens a therapeutic feeding centre in Bubanza
The NGO 'Action contre la faim' (ACF) has opened the first therapeutic feeding centre in Bubanza provincial capital. The centre has a capacity for up to 750 people, an ACF representative told IRIN. A nutritional survey, conducted in February by Children's Aid Direct (CAD), indicated that more than 2,000 children admitted to supplementary feeding programmes in the province were in need of therapeutic feeding. The survey also stressed that malnutrition was the main cause of death, and said that the death rate for children aged 6 to 59 months was 4,34/10,000 per day. CAD says it plans also to open another supplementary feeding centre in Musigati commune, in addition to six existing ones in the province. These provide assistance to 5,700 beneficiaries, a majority of them children.
Meanwhile, OCHA in Burundi reported that the number of people living in camps in Bubanza province had increased recently and reached 159,000 in April. This means about 57 percent of the province's population is now living in camps, humanitarian sources said.
Government denies high death tolls in camps
The Burundi government has strongly denied media reports alleging high death tolls in some displaced people's camps. In an interview with the Rwanda News Agency, Communications Minister Pierre Claver Ndayicariye described the reports as "absolutely unfounded and ill-intentioned". "These false reports emanate from people who are jealous of the achievments of our government," he said. He added that the figure of some 500,000 IDPs was "highly exaggerated", saying many people had been resettled.
Prisoners freed due to overcrowding
Over 80 prisoners have been freed from Mpimba prison in Bujumbura due to overcrowding in the country's jails. According to the All Africa News Agency, they do not include inmates convicted of murder, embezzlement, armed robbery or financial corruption. Judicial sources say some 9,000 people are imprisoned in Burundi's jails which have a capacity of 3,650. Mpimba has 2,544 inmates in facilities meant to hold only 800 people. In addition to overcrowding, prison administrations are increasingly unable to feed inmates due to increased prices of agricultural produce, the agency reported.
UGANDA: Institutions closed to curb cholera spread
The Health Ministry has ordered the closure of a number of institutions in northern Arua district, senior ministry official Sam Okura told IRIN. He said that the district's cholera task force had closed down "unsanitary institutions like schools and markets." Five people have died and 18 have been taken ill since cholera broke out in the region two weeks ago. Meanwhile, a cholera epidemic in western Bundibugyo area has escalated with 16 deaths reported in the Itojo and Karugutu camps for displaced people, WFP said. Relief agencies are trying to contain the outbreak.
Rebels kill eight in Kasese
AFP reported the army as saying on Thursday rebels have killed eight people during an attack in Uganda's western Kasese district. The rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) mutilated the body of one of the victims after killing him. A survivor, who was briefly detained by the rebels, told the independent 'Monitor' newspaper that she saw about 30 heavily-armed rebels who wore police and army uniform. A senior army commander, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the rebels had intended to ambush vehicles along the Bwera-Lake Katwe road, but changed their mind when they saw military trucks on patrol.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: UNICEF to open centre for war-traumatised children
UNICEF has set up a centre in Brazzaville to provide psychotherapy for thousands of war-traumatised children in the Republic of Congo. A similar UNICEF programme in Rwanda is still counselling children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the 1994 genocide and continuing ethnic clashes. Reuters reported spokesman Patrick McCormick as saying virtually all 450,000 children under the age of 18 in the capital Brazzaville had been exposed to potentially-traumatising experiences during Congo's four-month civil war last year.
SUDAN: Peace talks end with accord on self-determination
Peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) ended in Nairobi on Wednesday with a pledge to hold a referendum on the right to self-determination in south Sudan. A statement read out by Kenyan Foreign Minister Bonaya Godana said the talks, under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had made progress despite a failure to reach agreement on state and religion. Kenyan radio said the parties also agreed on a "free and unimpeded" flow of humanitarian aid to affected parts of the country. They agreed to meet again in Addis Ababa in three months' time.
WFP announces start of additional flights
WFP announced the start-up of the first additional C-130 aircraft which began airdropping food supplies to 50,000 southern Sudanese in the towns of Ajak and Akon in Bahr al-Ghazal state. In a news release, WFP said the operation followed the Sudanese government's agreement last Sunday to let the UN use three additional C-130s, bringing the total number to five. WFP Southern Sector Coordinator David Fletcher described the planes as a lifeline for tens of thousands of Sudanese. Aid workers said the planes were arriving just in time. OLS southern sector says it is confident that with the granting by Khartoum of new clearances on flight capacity and locations, the most acute emergency needs can be met. OLS sources said the main problem now was ensuring the provision of necessary resources.
TANZANIA: Seven killed by floods
Seven people drowned and 1,000 were left homeless when floods swept through Dar es Salaam after two days of torrential rains on Sunday and Monday, the regional police commander Alfred Gewe told IRIN on Wednesday. Meanwhile 70 people died on Sunday after a bus plunged into a flooded river in the Tanga region, the 'Daily Nation' reported on Monday. The driver missed a bridge "submerged by flood waters" due to the ongoing long rains.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Olenghankoy re-arrested, says minister
DRC Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji announced on state television on Friday that opposition politician Joseph Olenghankoy, who escaped in mid-April from a high-security prison at Buluwo, in Katanga, had been re-arrested. Olenghankoy was reportedly recaptured at Tenke village, around 80 km from Buluwo prison, by security forces and would now be held in Lubumbashi, the minister said. Olenghankoy, President of the FONUS (Forces novatrices pour l'union et la solidarite) party, escaped with two other prominent detainees who were recaptured and presented last week on television.
Meanwhile, PANA news agency reported that more than 10 journalists have been arrested since the arrival in power on 17 May of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. Quoting media sources in Kinshasa, the agency said in an article timed to coincide with last Sunday's World Press Freedom Day, the arrests took place for three reasons ranging from publishing articles hostile to the new regime, support to the opposition and what officials termed "empathising with the enemy". Punishment meted out to offenders has varied from a few hours of intensive interrogation to three months of detention at the "Penitentiary Reeducation Centre" located in the former Makala prison.
Authorities urge return of former Mobutu officials
The DRC government has called on foreign countries, harbouring former officials of the Mobutu Sese Seko regime, to return them to Kinshasa. A statement read by Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha over DRC television said their lives would not be in danger and their contribution to national reconstruction was awaited.
Regional conference planned
DRC authorities are organising a conference for the Great Lakes region in Kinshasa from 12 to 16 May. The heads of state of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia are invited to the conference which will focus on the search for peace and stability in the region and the launching of a regional development initiative. A ceremony on the 17 May will also celebrate the first year of the arrival in power of the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. Analysts said some countries and diplomats may boycott the conference for fear it was a way to ensure maximum participation for the first-year anniversary celebrations of the overthrow of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
ANGOLA: Security situation rapidly deteriorating
The security situation in Angola is said to be rapidly deteriorating with escalating clashes reported between the security forces and bandits - largely residual UNITA elements. A spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission MONUA told IRIN that in the provinces of Benguela, Malange, Huila and Uige "it's pretty serious" with villagers fleeing the violence. Angolan state TV on Tuesday described the military situation in the southern province of Benguela as "reaching war proportions". Humanitarian sources said fighting was continuing between the police and "supposed bandits" in four locations in the province.
Nairobi, 8 May 1998, 11:00 GMT
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date: Fri, 8 May 1998 14:36:01 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 19-98 for 1-7 May 1998.5.8 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980508143142.11226Ufirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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