Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up, 6/7/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up, 6/7/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Weekly Roundup 6-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 2-9 June 1997.

Congo: Fighting continues in Brazzaville

Eye witnesses told IRIN shooting continued in the capital Brazzaville throughout the weekend and on Monday as militias loyal to former President Denis Sassou Nguesso battled with government forces, cutting the city in two. Soldiers are using mortars, machine guns, grenades, RPGs and tanks inside the city, which is now under a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Roadblocks have been set up in various parts of the city. Since fighting bagan last Thursday, the Nguesso "Cobra" militia have taken over a military camp north of the city and fighting is reported around the airport.

An American airlift of expatriates was suspended because of the fighting and an American diplomatic vehicle was shot at on Sunday. Some 500 French troops are due to arrive in Brazzaville today (Monday) from other bases in Africa to back up the 450 already there. Eye witnesses believe the casualties from the fighting will be heavy although there is no precise information. One French soldier was killed and five injured in clashes with militiamen on Saturday night. On Sunday, French troops suspended efforts to collect French nationals and take them to a safe collection point. A scheduled Air France plane forced to cancel its departure on Friday was able to leave on Saturday with 90 passengers on board.

President Pascal Lissouba told France 2 television on Sunday night that Nguesso was using his private army to mount a coup d'etat. In response to a government call for a ceasefire, Nguesso told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that he would agree if the government stopped killing members of the opposition and took the blame for the current fighting. Nguesso has announced his candidacy in presidential elections due on 27 July.

The fighting in Brazzaville prevented aid agencies from reaching Bilolo refugee transit camp, 20 kms north of the capital, where 5,000 Rwandan refugees are awaiting repatriation by the UNHCR. The Brazzaville authorities have called for the repatriation of all refugees, who number around 18,000, before the July elections. However, refugees are continuing to arrive at a rate of 300-600 a day around the Liranga-Lukolela area to the northeast. Transfers by barge from Liranga to Bilolo are on hold. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Kabila meets US envoy

American envoy to the United Nations Bill Richardson held talks with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila in Lubumbashi over the weekend. CNN said today America may give military and technical advice to the DRC, but any agreement was dependent on progress towards democracy and human rights. Kabila said accusations of human rights abuses by his soldiers was giving a "false image" to his regime.

DRC: New Cabinet ministers appointed Kabila appointed three new members to his cabinet last Friday, Congolese radio reported. The radio named Thomas Kanza as Minister of International Co-operation, Etienne Mbaya as Minister of Reconstruction and Urgent Works, and Julianne Lumumba as Vice-Minister of Information. The radio said the government would introduce a new currency in two months time.

DRC: Commission of inquiry established

Congolese Radio in Bukavu said on Friday a commission of inquiry had been set up to investigate "the sad events" in Uvira, South Kivu. At least 30 people died in clashes between the army and local residents at the end of May. The radio said a housing commission would move in swiftly to sort out the problems of "disorderly" occupation of government houses. It expressed concern over the "unjustified" stay of refugees in the province.

DRC: Refugees continue to arrive

UNHCR says small groups of Rwandan refugees continue to arrive at the transit centre in Mbandaka, northwestern DRC. About 400 are waiting to be airlifted to Rwanda. In the east, about 100 refugees coming from the Amisi area were to be repatriated at the weekend. Since the start of the year, a total of 225,000 Rwandan refugees have been repatriated, including those airlifted from Kisangani and Mbandaka.

DRC: Curfew in place in Goma

A curfew was put into place in Goma on Friday by UNHCR for its own personnel, with a strong recommendation that other agencies followed suit, after another security incident involving aid workers. The latest was Wednesday's attack against the World Vision compound.

Burundi: Ousted president Ntibantunganya leaves US embassy

Former Hutu president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya left the residence of the American ambassador to Bujumbura on Saturday, where he had stayed as a "house guest" since his overthrow in last July's coup led by Pierre Buyoya. Ntibantunganya said he remained with his "ideological and philosophical convictions" intact. The Burundi conflict, he said, could only be solved though global negotiations without conditions. A statement on national radio said Ntibantunganya's departure from the embassy was decided "in the interest of the country."

Leaders at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit which ended last week gave encouragement to Buyoya's attempts to talk peace with armed rebel groups but urged him to speed up the process of restoring constitutional rule. Buyoya said on his return to Bujumbura that there was clear support for the easing of economic sanctions against Burundi. Among the heads of state attending the 33rd summit, held in Harare, was the new President of DRCongo, Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Rwanda: Violence continues in Ruhengeri

AFP reported on Friday that five civilians were killed by armed attackers in the northwestern prefecture of Ruhengeri, prompting the army to send reinforcements to the area. The reports quotes a local official who saids more deaths followed after the army's arrival. Rwandan sources describe the situation in Ruhengeri as a state of "open warfare" between the army and Hutu militiamen and members of the former army. The human rights group Africa Rights released a new report on Friday entitled "The Killer Behind the Refugee," in which it strongly criticised the UNHCR for failing to deal with "genocidaires" among the refugee population which fled Rwanda in 1994. The report says the killers used the refugee camps run by UNHCR as a cover for "the pursuit of war."

A delegation from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, will visit Rwanda at the end of this month to clear up misunderstandings between the ICTR and the Rwandan government, AFP reported on Friday. The Rwandan government accuses the ICTR of wasting money and being slow to bring those accused of leading the 1994 genocide to justice.

Angola: Endangered peace

The former Angolan rebel movement UNITA has accused government forces of launching an offensive in the northwest, AFP reported on Saturday. UNITA radio said government troops had attacked a number of locations between the port of Soyo and Pedra-de-Feitico, a town on the border with DRC. AFP reported from Paris on Friday that 3,500 civilians had fled fighting in the diamond-rich northwestern region and were arriving in N'zaji in Lunda Norte province. WFP is flying in food supplies to the town. UNHCR warned that it may have to suspend or reduce activities in Angola for the repatriation of 300,000 Angolan refugees because of lack of money.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed a new observer mission to Angola to monitor the peace process. The new mission would start on 1 July for 7 months, replacing the UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) which is to be scaled down at the end of June. Annan said on Friday the new mission would have 86 military observers, as compared to the current 350.

Kenya: Calls for constitutional reform continue ahead of elections

The head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki, yesterday called on the government to license opposition rallies to avoid violence. Ndingi said last weekend's clashes between reformists and the police could have been avoided, Nairobi newspapers report today. He reaffirmed the church's stand that minimal constitutional reform must be made before the elections due sometime this year. The press freedom group Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) has written to President Moi protesting over the beating by police of two Kenyan journalists at the aborted opposition rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi on 31 May. The two journalists needed hospital treatment for their injuries. Amnesty International's secretary-general Pierre Sane has called for international monitoring groups to send observers to Kenya as soon as possible to monitor the start of the election process. Sane ends a 12-day visit to Kenya on Wednesday.

Radical Kenyan opposition activist Sheikh Khalid Balala was refused entry to Kenya on Saturday, Nairobi newspapers reported. Paramilitary police forced the Islamic leader back onto his charter plane arriving at Mombasa airport from Germany. Other opposition leaders there to meet him were beaten back by police. Earlier, a court rejected Balala's bid to have his Kenyan passport, removed from him three years ago, reinstated.

Sudan: Aid flights suspended

The Khartoum government reneged again last week on an agreement over flight clearance into southern Sudan. Flights are currently suspended because Khartoum has refused to issue a schedule for June. Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) said it is concerned for the welfare of thousands of people in the south, particularly in Bahr-el-Ghazal where 30% of children are reported to be suffering from malnutrition.

Nairobi, 9 June 1997, 10:40 gmt


[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, 9 Jun 1997 17:13:06 +0300 Message-Id: <> To: Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 7-97 2-9 June 1997 97.6.9

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific