IRIN Weekly Round-up 23-98 29 May-4 June 98.6.5

IRIN Weekly Round-up 23-98 29 May-4 June 98.6.5

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 23-98 covering the period 29 May - 4 June 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Cabinet reshuffled, ministers arrested

President Laurent-Desire Kabila reshuffled his cabinet and arrested some six ministers on corruption charges. Local sources in Kinshasa said last Friday it was not clear if they were still in detention or had been released. On Monday, Kabila expanded his government from 29 to 38 posts. The government now comprises four state ministers, 27 ministers and seven deputy ministers. ADFL Secretary-General Deogratias Bugera comes in as state minister to the presidency. Kabila himself retains the defence portfolio.

Kabila meets Tshisekedi, UDPS slams encounter

Kabila also met opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi, AFP said, quoting an anonymous government official. No official details of Saturday's talks have been given. Kabila, who banished Tshisekedi to his home area earlier this year, refused to confirm the meeting. A government official said, however, the talks took place in a very relaxed atmosphere.

The opposition Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) described the meeting as "worrying rather than reassuring". In a statement, the UDPS accused Kabila of continuing to hold Tshisekedi prisoner in his home village.

Uvira tense after jail attacked

Uvira was reported tense after Banyamulenge soldiers reportedly stormed the local jail on Sunday and released a prisoner. Humanitarian sources told IRIN the freed prisoner was Ruhimbika Muller, a representative of the Banyamulenge NGO Groupe Milima, who was arrested earlier on Sunday while crossing the DRC border from Burundi. Humanitarian sources also told IRIN three people were killed this week after two vehicles were ambushed on the Bukavu-Uvira road. The road remains open, but travel is not advisable, the sources said.

No conflict with Uganda, Kabila says

Kabila rejected suggestions there were problems in the relationship between his country and Uganda. In an interview broadcast by national television on Sunday, he said DRC "needed many friends, it needed to walk alongside other states". He blamed some international media and those "who wanted to sow confusion in the region" for the allegations. Africans should "identify those who want to divide us", he added. On the situation in eastern DRC, he claimed some people were trying to destabilise the region by supplying arms to ex-FAR members and Ugandan rebels. Border security with Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan had been reinforced to stop smuggling, he said. On Saturday, DRC military officials announced the launch of "large-scale operations" against Mayi-Mayi rebels, supported by ex-soldiers from neighbouring countries.

Minister of state in the Ugandan president's office Amama Mbabazi told the 'EastAfrican' weekly on Monday the Ugandan government was "using diplomatic channels" to look into allegations of interference by a DRC minister. Mbabazi said "as of now" relations between the two countries "are not worrying". "If there are problems they will be sorted out," he said. The 'EastAfrican' added that according to unconfirmed reports, President Yoweri Museveni had sent a special envoy to Kinshasa with a message for Kabila.

Human rights report "will not be toned down", UN says

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard has said a report by the UN team which probed alleged human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo will probably be released to the public. "When I say it will not be suppressed, censored or toned down, that suggests it is going to be released," he told a news briefing on Tuesday.

300 ex-FAZ soldiers integrated into army in Lubumbashi

Over 300 ex-FAZ soldiers, who returned from exile, have been officially integrated into the new Congolese army, PANA news agency reported. It said they returned to DRC from Zambia in December and are now in Lubumbashi where Kabila, who met them on Saturday, said he had asked them to "behave like citizens of this country and no longer like predators". PANA said over 10,000 former soldiers have sought refuge in countries such as Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya and the Central African Republic.

Oppostion editor get a year's jail sentence

The editor of the opposition 'Alarme' newspaper has been jailed for a year by a court in Kinshasa accused of threatening state security, Reuters reported. The editor, Bosange Yema, was arrested and detained in February. His newspaper had published an open letter from opposition leader Joseph Olenghankoy, now also imprisoned, which warned against the "emerging Kabila dictatorship".

UGANDA: Museveni vows to crush rebels

Some 150 Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have been killed in northern Uganda and 100 have surrendered to the army in recent fighting, President Yoweri Museveni claimed on Monday. He vowed to militarily crush the LRA and rebels operating in the west of the country, the official 'New Vision' said. According to Kenya's 'Daily Nation', Museveni blamed leadership weaknesses among army commanders in the north for the failure to end the insurgency. Meanwhile, 10 people died in an LRA ambush near Kitgum on Monday. The LRA also fired mortar rounds at a hospital some eight km from Gulu town, the 'New Vision' reported. The shells landed close to a displaced camp sheltering 3,000 people.

Human rights group calls for release of illegally-held detainees

The Uganda Human Rights Commission called on the security forces to release illegally-held detainees. The commission said in a statement broadcast on state radio that it has investigated several complaints of abductions, illegal arrests and detentions. It added that it has reasonable proof that some detainees are being held in ungazetted facilities.

RWANDA: Donors approve aid package

The World Bank and other donors, meeting in Stockholm on Wednesday, agreed to provide Rwanda with US $250 million, according to news reports. The money will be used to support Rwanda's three-year economic reform programme. In a statement, the World Bank said participants in the meeting recognised Rwanda was an exceptional case and needed "exceptional financing". Donors agreed Rwanda had made "significant progress" in restoring economic and social stability since the 1994 genocide.

OAU "eminent persons" team to probe genocide

The OAU is to set up a team of "eminent persons" to enquire into the Rwandan genocide, news reports said. OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim told a news conference in Burkina Faso, ahead of an OAU summit in Ouagadougou, the group would probe "the in-depth causes of the genocide, the circumstances and its consequences in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region". The team, to be headed by former Botswanan president Sir Ketumile Masire, will also include ex-Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure and a former Liberian minister Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Salim said the enquiry would contribute to "dressing the wounds" and "avoiding the policy of impunity in Africa".

EU stresses common stand on arresting genocide suspects

An EU delegation which visited Rwanda on Tuesday said member countries will adopt a common stand on Rwandan genocide suspects living on their territory, the Rwanda News Agency reported. British Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Tony Lloyd, who is a member of the delegation, said discussions were underway "so that every suspected genocide perpetrator is arrested in every country of the EU".

Meanwhile, a court in Butare on Monday sentenced a university professor to death for genocide crimes, after which he seriously injured three people on his way back to prison. The Rwanda News Agency said Professor Geoffrey Gatera, who headed the medical faculty at the national university, wrestled the steering wheel from the driver of the vehicle taking him back to prison and crashed into a bicycle and another car, seriously injuring the three people. He was charged with involvement in the massacre of hundreds of Tutsis who came to the university hospital in Butare seeking refuge.

Six people were sentenced to death in the southwest prefecture of Cyangugu, accused of killing five UN human rights workers last year, AFP reported. It cited RNA as saying the five men and one woman were identified as "infiltrators" when the verdict was handed down on 26 May.

Rebels produce newspaper outlining their cause

Rebels in northwest Rwanda appear to be publicising their insurgency with the emergence of a publication outlining their aims. According to AFP, the paper 'Umucunguzi' (Saviour) is published in Gisenyi, mainly in Kinyarwanda but with some articles in French. It names the rebels' political wing as the Peuple en armes pour liberer le Rwanda (PALIR), with its armed wing the Armee pour la liberation du Rwanda (ALIR). The paper describes the Rwandan Patriotic Army as an "army of occupation" and urges Rwandans to take up arms. The May edition contains a map, claiming rebels are active in half the country and predicting victory. It also forecast an upsurge of fighting in the central prefecture of Gitarama. The Rwandan army, meanwhile, was reported to have killed some 20 Interahamwe militiamen in renewed clashes last week in Gisenyi prefecture.

Over 30,000 people on Monday demonstrated peacefully against the rebel insurgency in Mbogo commune of Kigali Rurale prefecture, the Rwanda News Agency reported. It quoted the local mayor Habiyaremye Oswald as saying the protest "was a manifestation of the people's opposition to those who incite violence in the country".

Rwandan-US mediation may stem Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict

After more heavy fighting, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expressed support for a Rwandan-US brokered peace deal to resolve the border dispute with Eritrea. US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Susan Rice said Ethiopia had provisionally accepted the plan which includes demilitarising the border and negotiations on defining the frontier. An Eritrean official told IRIN an Eritrean government statement on 14 May had already issued similar recommendations. A Rwandan government statement on Thursday said its mediation was aimed at promoting a peaceful and durable settlement of the conflict.

KENYA: Three charged with murder of Sendashonga

A Rwandese and two Ugandan nationals were arraigned before a Nairobi court this week charged with the murder of former Rwandese interior minister Seth Sendashonga. The three men were also accused of the murder of Sendashonga's driver in a city shooting last month. They denied the charges and were remanded in custody until 16 June, Kenyan radio monitored by the BBC, reported.

BURUNDI: EU envoy calls for lifting embargo

Aldo Ajello, EU special envoy for the Great Lakes, told AFP last night the regional economic embargo against Burundi should be lifted at the Arusha peace talks later this month. Ajello is currently leading a three-country EU delegation around the region. State radio quoted a British minister and member of the delegation Tony Lloyd as saying the EU recognised the changes taking place in Burundi. He said the delegation planned to talk to hold wide-ranging talks in Burundi, adding that the country was going through a "very signficant period".

SUDAN: SPLA claims capture of key garrison town in Blue Nile

The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) claimed it had taken the garrison of Ulu, in Blue Nile province of eastern Sudan. A spokesman for the SPLA told news agencies the rebels had killed more than 70 government soldiers and captured weapons and material. A government army statement issued in Khartoum acknowledged "fierce battles" in the area. The Sudanese national service coordinator announced plans earlier this week to recruit an additional 250,000 civilians into the military this year alone, AFP reported.

Government launches airlift, WFP relocates staff

In humanitarian operations, the government has launched its own airlift of food to government-held Wau in Bahr al-Ghazal, AFP reports. Elsewhere in Bahr al-Ghazal, WFP announced that an increase in insecurity had forced them to relocate staff from Twic county. About 80,000 of 150,000 beneficiaries in the area will have their food aid delayed, WFP told IRIN on Wednesday.

Nairobi, 5 June 1998


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Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 14:24:38 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 23-98 29 May-4 June 98.6.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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