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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.]
[Please note today's daily update is incorporated in this report]
IRIN Weekly Roundup 8-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 10-16 May 1997.
Congo: Factions battle for airport
Fighting again flared up in the Congolese capital Brazzaville on Sunday after a brief lull as factions loyal to President Pascal Lissouba and former president Denis Sassou Nguesso fought for control of the airport. French troops have now evacuated most foreigners from the city. Meanwhile, representatives of the opposing sides arrived for peace talks in the Gabonese capital Libreville today to be mediated by President Omar Bongo, as Lissouba urged France to form a buffer force. However, with the completion of the evacuation operation, French troops are to start withdrawing from Brazzaville.
Congo: Sahnoun visits Brazzaville
Attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict continued over the weekend when joint UN-OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun, went to Brazzaville for talks with both sides. He also met Brazzaville mayor, Bernard Kolelas, who is currently trying to mediate between the two parties, and who also has his own militia force. On Friday, Sassou-Nguesso's "Cobra" militia accused the former Angolan rebel force, UNITA, of fighting alongside government troops in Brazzaville.
Congo: Ceasefire fails to hold
Thousands of people are thought to have died in the violence over the past week, and hundreds more fled across the Congo river to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shells from the fighting have been landing in Kinshasa, prompting the authorities there to issue stern warnings. A ceasefire announced by the warring sides on Wednesday failed to materialise. The UN and OAU both called for an end to hostilities. On Friday, President Lissouba said presidential elections, slated for July 27, would still go ahead despite the unrest.
Congo: Relief operations stalled
Fighting in Brazzaville impeded relief operations for thousands of Rwandan refugees in northern Congo, but on Thursday ICRC managed to fly food and medical supplies from Kinshasa to Lukelela. The situation there was said to be tense, as refugees combed fields and farms in search of food. UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, Sergio Vieira de Mello, visited Bangui in the Central African Republic to discuss possibilities of sending relief supplies downriver. According to AFP, he noted there were also some 35,000 refugees in CAR including ex-FAZ and ex-FAR soldiers. AFP said he had been told by the CAR authorities that armed members of ousted Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko's presidential guard had slipped into the country, creating a "very worrying situation" there.
DRC: Kabila outlines government's priorities
DRC leader Laurent-Desire Kabila told a rally in Bukavu on Saturday that the priorities of the transitional period were road construction, modernising agriculture and countrywide electrification. Congolese radio, broadcasting from Bukavu, said "the people" also elected a new governor for South Kivu, Jean-Charles Magabe who is the vice-rector of Bukavu Catholic University. Before his arrival in Bukavu, Kabila attended the funeral of ex-Zairean chief of staff General Mahele Bokungo who was murdered just before Kinshasa fell. A report issued by the national human rights organisation, Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO) has put the number of deaths during the fall of Kinshasa at 647.
DRC: Government expanded
Kabila expanded his government on Friday which now comprises 20 ministers and two deputy ministers. The new ministers include ex-governor of South Kivu, Tchubaka Bishikwabo, who was named public works minister, Pierre Victor Mpoyo is the new minister for the economy, Pierre Lokombe Kitete is energy minister, Mutob Tshibal is minister of youth and sports, Eddy Angulu Mabangi is minister of environment and tourism, and Milulu Mamboleo is deputy minister of social affairs.
DRC: ADFL hotel bill tops $US 4 million
Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) has settled its bill for the 18 May to 7 June period at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kinshasa, which currently serves as the ADFL headquarters. 'Le Potentiel' newspaper, quoting hotel sources, said the bill came to $US 4.6 million.
DRC: Relief agencies granted access beyond Biaro
Aid agencies have been allowed access south of Biaro camp in the Kisangani area, with missions going as far as Kilometre 50 today. No major groups of refugees were sighted, but a mission will go beyond Km 50 tomorrow. It is believed a large number of people may be gathered at Kilometre 53. In Kisangani itself, some 2,000 people are at the transit centre receiving medical attention.
Burundi: Former president says he still has role to play
Former Burundian president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, in his first interview since leaving his refuge at the US ambassador's residence, claimed President Pierre Buyoya was not his enemy and pledged his commitment to peace talks. On Friday, he told the non-governmental Studio Ijambo that he still had a role to play and that he should be invited to attend peace negotiations. However, he added that the coup which brought Buyoya to power last year must be fought "ideologically, politically and concretely".
Burundi: Buyoya calls for international genocide tribunal
On Saturday, Buyoya reiterated calls for establishing an international tribunal to judge genocide suspects in Burundi. Speaking on national television, he also announced his regime was planning to introduce a new constitution which would be "anti-genocide". Buyoya denied that secret agreements had been signed with the rebel group National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) on power-sharing.
Burundi: Violence continues
Security incidents continued to plague Burundi after a military escort vehicle came under attack in Cibitoke province last Monday. Two soldiers were slightly injured, but it was not known who was responsible for the attack. UN missions to Cibitoke were temporarily suspended. The governor of Kayanza province expressed concern over security in the area, especially around the Kibira forest, while the governor of southern Rutana province urged caution over "inflitrations" from the Tanzanian side of the border.
Rwanda: Security incidents in northwest
Insecurity increased in northwest Rwanda, with local people reportedly complaining of "constant gunbattles" between the army and Hutu rebels in the hills around Ruhengeri. Military spokesman Emmanuel Ndahiro told a news conference that a number of suspected Interahamwe members were wounded after an abortive attempt to free prisoners in Ruhengeri. Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana later said security had been strengthened and the situation was now improving.
Sudan: Southern aid flights resume
Aid flights into southern Sudan resumed after the Khartoum authorities finally approved clearance schedules following a seven-day suspension, during which relief agencies expressed concern over the plight of thousands of people who had gone without supplies. Deliveries resumed on a daily basis over both rebel and government-held areas, although access was denied to the towns of Yei, Tonj, Rumbek and Warrap.
Eritrea: Sudan accused of planning attack
On the military front, Eritrea accused Sudan of planning to launch an attack, according to AFP. A government statement warned that Asmara reserved the right to self-defence and denying Sudanese accusations of an Eritrean troop build-up along the border.
Sudan: UDSF urges international support for peace deal
Sudan's rebel United Democratic Salvation Front, headed by faction leader Riak Machar, has urged international support for the peace accord it signed recently with the government. A spokesman in Nairobi said the agreement addressed the fundamental rights of the Sudanese people and the UDSF was seeking to explain this to the international community. Meanwhile, the government-owned daily 'Al-Anbaa' reported claims by a UDSF faction member that the rebel SPLA had massacred 142 people in Wunrop, Bahr el-Ghazal province.
Sudan: SPLA claims major town captured
The SPLA on Sunday announced it had captured the strategic town of Yirol in Bahr el-Ghazal. A spokesman, quoted by AFP, said the town fell on Saturday, leaving just two major provincial towns - Wau and Aweil - in government hands.
Uganda: Refugees arrive from southern Sudan
WFP reported the arrival of Sudanese refugees in Uganda from southern Sudan. Some were new arrivals, while others had already been in camps and settlements in northern Uganda. WFP said they were arriving in the border town of Koboko and being transferred to Rhino Camp and Mvepi settlement where they were supplied with full food rations.
Angola: Displaced people flee fighting
Relief workers in Angola reported a continuing influx of people into the town of Andrada, 90 kms southeast of Dundo in Lunda Norte province, displaced by fighting in the vicinity. Some 3,000-4,000 people were reported to be in the town, where WFP and the Lutheran World Federation are distributing relief supplies. Some 3,000 people have also arrived in the town of Nzagi. Former rebel UNITA troops have reportedly lost control of the area east of Andrada, giving government troops access to the DRC border. Government forces already control the area north of the town up to Dundo.
Angola: Dos Santos ready to meet Savimbi at home
Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos said he would meet UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, but only in Angola, dos Santos' spokesman told the Portuguese news agency Lusa. On Friday, UNITA said Savimbi was prepared to meet dos Santos in Italy where the Angolan leader is currently on holiday.
Angola: Situation in Malange tense
The situation in Angola's Malange province, bordering DRC, is said to be increasingly tense with unconfirmed rumours of troops movements, humanitarian sources reported. The government has increased checkpoints in the province.
Kenya: Public order reform bill published
Kenyan Attorney-General Amos Wako published a new bill, the Peaceful Assemblies Bill, aimed at reforming the controversial Public Order Act. Under the new legislation conveners of processions and political meetings now have to notify the district officer, instead of his boss, the district commissioner. All other gatherings, including those organised by public bodies, trade unions or professional organisations, are excluded from the previous requirement to obtain a licence for gatherings of 10 or more people. The proposed legislation was announced by President Daniel arap Moi in the aftermath of violence in Nairobi when riot police took measures to prevent an unlicensed opposition rally two weeks ago.
UN: Day of the African Child
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy has said there is hope for Africa's children if promising economic indicators on the continent lead to growth and progress in eradicating poverty. However, in a press release to mark Day of the African Child today, she acknowledged the progress was fragile. More than 220 million people still live below the poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa. Bellamy said it was an outrage that in an era of unprecedented global wealth creation, about a quarter of the world's population lived in poverty. She said it was necessary to couple appropriate economic policies with sustainable investment in children and their families.
UN: Mary Robinson appointed UNHCHR
Amnesty International has welcomed the appointment of Irish President Mary Robinson as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urging her to seize the opportunity and make human rights a cornerstone of the UN's work for the next millenium. Robinson's appointment was announced by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday.
Nairobi, 16 June 1997, 15:00 gmt
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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 8-97 10-16 June 1997 97.6.16 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970616175922.6319Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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