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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 24-98 covering the period 5 - 11 June 1998
RWANDA: Rebels attack refugee camp, kill at least 29
At least 29 people were killed and some 20 others injured when about 1,000 "infiltrators" attacked Kinihira displaced people's camp in Kayove commune in the northwest prefecture of Gisenyi, Rwandan radio reported on Tuesday. The attackers, consisting of young men, women and children, were armed with machetes, spears and pangas, witnesses were quoted as saying. They added the assailants numbered over 1,000 and attacked the camp, which shelters about 300 displaced Tutsis, in three successive waves at around one p.m. local time on Monday. In a separate incident overnight Monday, 11 other people were killed by rebels in Mushubati and Buringa communes in Gitarama prefecture, the radio added.
Six genocide suspects arrested in west Africa
Six Rwandan genocide suspects have been arrested in west Africa, a press statement from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) announced on Wednesday. They were detained by the authorities of Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali and Togo on 5 and 7 June at the request of the prosecutor. One of them, Emmanuel Bagambiki, the former prefect of Cyangugu, has already been indicted by the tribunal on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The others are: Mathieu Ngirumpatse former foreign ministry director-general and president of the former ruling MRND party; Edouard Karamera, former interior minister in the interim government and vice-president of MRND; Joseph Nzirorera, former national assembly president; Juvenal Kajelijeli, former mayor of Mukingo; and Omar Serushango, a businessman and Interahamwe leader in Gisenyi prefecture.
ICTR rejects proposal for collective trials, adopts "speed-up" measures
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) trying genocide suspects on Monday rejected a proposal to have the accused tried collectively. The tribunal's court of appeal, sitting in Arusha for the first time, rejected a recommendation from the prosecutor that 29 suspects be tried together. James Stewart of the prosecutor's office told the Hirondelle independent press agency that, while the appeals court decision was to be respected, it would not change the "fundamental orientation" of the prosecutor's strategy to achieve collective trials at some time in the future.
WFP begins mass food distributions in northwest
WFP said on Tuesday it had begun an emergency food distribution for more than 100,000 internally displaced Rwandans in the prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri. The agency said in a statement the distribution, assisted by other UN agencies, started last week in Gisenyi where 200 mt of food was provided to 25,000 people in four communes. It will continue over the next two months until a total of 1,200 mt of WFP food aid is handed out in the two prefectures. Heavy insecurity, including frequent rebel incursions, has plagued much of northwestern Rwanda for nearly six months and has led to a large displacement of the population. As a result, WFP said UN agencies and other aid organisations have had only partial and periodic access to the two prefectures, limiting the amount of humanitarian assistance that could be sent in.
Rwandan authorities start house evictions
The Rwandan authorities on 1 June began evicting the first of about 10,000 families from houses they have been occupying in the capital, Kigali, since their owners fled the country during the 1994 genocide. The Rwandan news agency said those evicted were being given land, tents, iron sheeting and other materials to help them build new houses. The project involves resettling families from houses they occupy illegally into new shelters and returning the houses to their legal owners. The housing crisis in Kigali has been exacerbated by a doubling in the city's population from an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 people as a result of the massive return of old and new cases of refugees.
Official says BBC interview with Hutu extremist "unacceptable"
Rwanda has reacted angrily to a BBC interview with one of the leaders of extremist Hutu rebel group PALIR. The Rwandan news agency quoted Emmanuel Gasana, political adviser to Vice-President Paul Kagame, as saying it was "unacceptable" that a radio of the calibre of the BBC could give a "voice to such genocide criminals". Gasana said the government was planning to ask for an explanation.
GREAT LAKES: Report notes breakdown in media-aid relationship
Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame has said that during the Zairean civil war, Rwanda "used communication and information warfare better than anyone. We have found a new way of doing things." In a paper prepared for a London conference on media coverage of disasters last month, broadcaster Nik Gowing says that Kagame's comments are part of an "ominous" pattern and a "new, undeclared doctrine of information control drawn up by the new generation of leaders across Central and Eatern Africa."
Gowing's report, focusing on the events in the Great Lakes and eastern Zaire in 1996 and 1997, states that the relationship between humanitarian agencies and the media broke down and "has not recovered", thanks to mistrust and poor handling of information. Gowing claims that Kagame also confirmed that "discrediting the humanitarian community had been a central high-risk aim of the Rwandan government's strategy in Eastern Zaire". The report, available from AlertNet (http://www.alertnet.org), covers the challenges and problems for complex emergency information management in a real-time news environment, using cases from the Zairean civil war. It predicts that there is a "good chance" that an "anti-humanitarian organisation and anti-media strategy" will be adopted by parties to other conflicts in future.
BURUNDI: Parliament approves transitional constitution
The national assembly last Thursday approved a transitional constitution that would bring about institutional changes. The move was promulgated by President Pierre Buyoya on Saturday. According to Reuters, Speaker Leonce Ngendakumana said the move was an important step towards peace and reconciliation. The new constitution - described as a merger between the 1992 constitution and Buyoya's decree law adopted in 1996 - provides for replacing the prime minister's post with two vice-presidents, reducing the government and increasing parliament from 81 to 121 members. A BBC report described the parliamentary session as stormy, with many opposition FRODEBU members uneasy about the changes. The transitional constitution will provide a legal basis for Burundi until the new parliament votes into law a fresh constitution, but MPs, quoted by Reuters, said this was at least a year away. The current five-year parliamentary term ends later this month, after peace talks scheduled for 15 June in Arusha, Tanzania.
A Burundi analyst told IRIN the transitional constitution signified an end to the conflict between the Buyoya government and the national assembly. He said the sides were aware there may be a chance to resolve the Burundi conflict peacefully rather than by force and that there was now a "minimum amount of trust" between the two institutions.
CNDD slams government-parliament partnership
The rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) has condemned the new partnership between the government and the national assembly, accusing parliament of "betraying" the sovereignty of the people. In a statement, signed by its new leader Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the joint CNDD-FDD (Forces pour la defense de la democratie) described the signing of the transitional constitution as an "act of high treason". The CNDD-FDD said it would "continue the struggle until the restoration of constitutional and institutional legality".
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: New TV director arrested
The newly-appointed director of national television has been arrested, only a fortnight after his appointment, Radio France Internationale reported. It said he was accused of "sabotage and negligence" and for having omitted to broadcast a government ceremony. His predecessor was dismissed and arrested for broadcasting shots of alleged massacre sites in eastern DRC.
Kabila appoints new ADFL head
DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has named a new general-secretary for his Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) movement, the Agence congolaise de presse (ACP) reported. Vincent Mutomb Tshibal, until last week's government reshuffle youth and sports minister, replaces Deogratias Bugera who became Minister of State in the Office of the President. Bugera is one of the four founding members of the ADFL created in Lemera, South Kivu, in October 1996. ACP quoted ADFL deputy general secretary and Minister of State for Internal Affairs Gaetan Kakudji saying that the nomination "aimed at re-energising the movement's activities and making it shine among the masses".
Kasa-Vubu accused of disloyalty
Justine Kasa-Vubu, who was dismissed last week as DRC ambassador to Belgium, was recalled because of her failure to support the Kabila government, the Agence Congolaise de Presse reported. The agency said she failed to welcome personally Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha during a recent visit to Brussels and refused to accredit two diplomats sent to her embassy. Kasa-Vubu, daughter of the first post-independence Congolese president, was for several years the Brussels representative of the opposition UDPS (Union pour la democratie et le progres social).
UNHCR continues with repatriations
UNHCR had repatriated 1,000 Congolese refugees from the Kyaka II refugee camp in western Uganda by 1 June since the resumption of the exercise 10 days ago. A UNHCR spokesperson told IRIN that the voluntary repatriation programme, which was suspended in mid-May, due to a cholera outbreak and poor road conditions, was expected to last for several months before all the remaining 9,000 refugees who have registered for the exercise are repatriated. A total of 2,000 refugees have been so far repatriated. There are still 13,000 Congolese refugees in two camps in Uganda.
UGANDA: Museveni vows to crush rebels
President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday called for action to crush rebels following a reported massacre of at least 40 students in an attack on a technical college in Kichwamba, Kabarole district in western Uganda. "Grounds for wiping out these (rebel) groups exist but those small weaknesses here and there that persist must be eliminated," Reuters reported Museveni as saying at celebrations to mark a national holiday. "It is my ultimate responsibility ... to ensure that these weaknesses are eliminated," he said. "At the end of the day those who have caused so much suffering to the people of Uganda will themselves pay for what they have done." Meanwhile, AFP quoted a senior military official as saying bungling by soldiers allowed the attack by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) to take place. "If the commanding officer had put up a fight then reinforcements would have come from different detachments," AFP quoted the official as saying. The ADF rebels torched the students' dormitories. Estimates of the death toll have varied from 40 to 80, but 68 students are still missing, believed abducted, according to the college registrar.
Human Rights Watch strongly condemned the ADF attack, accusing the rebels of "a complete disregard for the lives of civilians". "We call upon the rebel movement to immediately stop targeting civilians and to stop abducting children for forced conscription into their ranks," a statement by the human rights organisation said. In April, Human Rights Watch conducted a fact-finding mission to the Rwenzori mountain region from where the ADF operates, and quoted local people as saying the ADF were abducting civilians because they did not support their rebellion.
SUDAN: UN condemns killing of aid workers
The UN has strongly condemned the killing of three aid workers in the Nuba mountains area of South Kordofan state. Two WFP workers and an employee of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society were shot dead on Tuesday. Three other people were wounded. The Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, expressed great sadness over the killings, saying there was no justification for violence against humanitarian workers. In Rome, WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini said those who died would be remembered for their dedication and courage. The Secretary-General's spokesman Fred Eckhard said the UN was conducting an investigation into the affair.
WFP seeking funds to expand south Sudan operation
WFP said on Thursday it was seeking funds urgently to expand its operation in south Sudan and provide bigger food rations to hundreds of thousands of war and drought-affected people. In a statement, WFP said 300,000 new people had to be added to the feeding operation. Starting from next month, it wanted to raise monthly food deliveries from 6,500 mt to 9,600 mt.
More fighting in east
Sudanese rebel radio, monitored by the BBC, claimed the capture of two garrisons near Kassala in northeastern Sudan on Saturday. The rebel umbrella group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), said that the attacks on Shalalob and Haladai also led to the capture of three tanks and other military hardware. The official SUNA news agency reported that the governor of Kassala had declared a "general mobilisation" after an alleged attack on a mosque at Derousah village in Hemeshkouraib area.
IRIN: New Southern Africa service launched 11 June 1998
IRIN is pleased to launch a new service on the countries of Southern Africa. The Southern Africa service will include coverage of Angola and Zambia, which were previously carried along with our Central and Eastern Africa material. For more information on IRIN - Southern Africa, send an email to email@example.com with the body "info irin-sa-service". For free subscriptions, please contact us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), telephone or fax.
Nairobi, 12 June 1998
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Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 13:27:06 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 24-98 5-11 June 98.6.12 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980612132435.23519Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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