Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up, 7/21/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up, 7/21/97


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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 13-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region, covering the period 15 - 21 July 1997

Burundi - Security Council expresses continued concerns

The United Nations Security Council voiced its continued concern over violence in Burundi on Thursday but expressed hope for "all inclusive" political dialogue. In a report to the Security Council dated 15 July, the UN Secretary-General revealed that some 5,000 people are held in Burundi on suspicion of involvement in massacres or supporting the Hutu rebels. However, the report says that overall the number of trials held in 1997, compared to 1996, showed a "remarkable reduction" in sentencing and a more "calm and dispassionate atmosphere". This improvement, says the report, follows the establishment of a UN-supported project to support Burundi's judicial process. The report notes that Burundi's three main political forces, the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), the Union for National Progress (UPRONA), and the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) are factionalised or internally divided and claims that there is increased factional fighting among Hutu rebel groups.

The Security Council also expressed renewed concern over Burundi's involuntary resettlement policy and called for the rapid dismantling of regroupment camps. More than 574,000 people, about ten per cent of the total population, are currently displaced from their homes and living in over 250 sites in Burundi. About 256,000 of these are categorised as regrouped. In a report released last Monday, Amnesty International said that the policy of forced regroupment "applied almost exclusively to Hutus" was resulting in a pattern of mass human rights violations and claimed that hundreds of men, women and children had been extrajudiciously executed in the process. In response to the report, a government spokesman said that regroupment was not a deliberate govenment policy, but a "reflex reaction" of civilians fleeing the threat of massacre.

Tanzania - Authorities demand Burundi troops move from border

Tanzania demanded at the weekend that Burundi removes its troops from border areas, following the alleged killing by Burundian soldiers of a Tanzanian family of three in Kigoma region. Yusuf Makamba, the regional administrator of Kigoma told reporters that villagers along the border were afraid to harvest their crops because they feared they would be harrassed or slaughtered by Burundian soldiers. Burundi has blamed the killing on Hutu rebels. Border tension between Tanzania and Burundi has been mounting for several months following accusations by the Burundi Army that thousands of Hutu rebels are operating from bases in Tanzania. A spokesman for the CNDD, meanwhile, told the East African that the murder of the three Tanzanians was the start of an alleged secret plan to attack the refugee camps in Tanzania. The CNDD claimed in June that the plot was being hatched in collaboration with countries which helped overthrow the Mobutu government in the former Zaire.

Burundi - rebels kill 51 people

Hutu rebels killed 51 people, mainly women and children, and abducted many more in southern Burundi near the Tanzania border, military sources reported on Thursday. Fighting between the Burundi army and Hutu rebels in the Makamba and Bururi provinces has resulted in an influx of refugees in Tanzania at a rate of between 100 to 200 a day. A UNHCR spokesman described the situation as "a silent emergency".

Rwanda - Kagame was "misunderstood"

Advisors to Rwanda's Vice-President and Minister of Defence Major General Paul Kagame said that he was misunderstood in an interview with the Washington Post in which he was quoted as saying that Kigali planned and led the rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The advisors said that Kagame had meant that Rwanda had supported the indigenous rebellion and provided training to the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberaton of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). The goal, said the advisors, had been to dismantle the refugee camps and scatter the Hutu forces. Kagame also allegedly told the South African Sunday Independent during his recent visit to South Africa that Rwandan troops were currently in the DRC at the invitation of Kinshasa "to consolidate peace in the region". DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila told a press conference in Kinshasa Tuesday that Rwandan advisers provided training and technical support to the ADFL but said "there were no Burundian soldiers, no Ugandan soldiers".

Rwanda - Government denies thousands killed

A US-based human rights group says that counter-insurgency campaigns by the Rwandan Army have left between 2,000-3,000 cvilians dead over the past three months alone. The report, by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) described the situation in western Rwanda an an "under-reported civil war" and said that according to testimonies it had collected, the killings of refugees, Congolese villagers and civilians in western Rwanda were continuing, with Rwandan soldiers often identified as the perpetrators. The organisation has urged the US government to acknowledge the presence of Rwandan troops in DRC and to insist that those involved in abuses are removed and disciplined. The group also claims that US special forces have provided counter-insurgency training to Rwanda. The Rwandan government said that the figures quoted by PHR were an "absolute exaggeration". Government officials also said on Sunday that security had improved in Ruhengeri thanks to military operations which "had allowed the army to flush out trouble-makers". The Pentagon, meanwhile, defended its involvement in Rwanda and said that US special forces had worked with the Rwandan army since 1995 under a programme of non-lethal training aimed at creating a more disciplined force.

AFP reported on Tuesday that 40 civilians died in crossfire during an army operation in Ruhengeri last weekend. According to the private Rwanda News Agency more than 100 Hutu rebels were killed in three days of clashes against rebel groups in the area. Kenya - Police swoop on Rwandans

In a dawn raid on Friday, Kenyan police arrested seven Rwandans, including Jean Kambanda, Prime Minister of Rwanda's interim government during the massacres and genocide of 1994, and Colonel Gratien Kabiligi, the former head of the Presidential Guard and reportedly the senior commander of Hutu Interahamwe militias in exile. Kabiligi is said to have masterminded raids from the former Zaire into Rwanda and to have been involved in recent guerrilla attacks on Uganda. According to a document seen by AFP, ten people, including one Belgian, had been originally targeted for arrest but three managed to escape the raid. The seven arrested on Friday at the request of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ITCR) were transferred to the ITCR detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister under the late president Juvenal Habyarimana and in the interim government, and her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, are the only two already indicted by the Tribunal.

In a press release issued Friday, the ITCR said that the arrests marked a turning point in the strategy of the Tribunal which has been criticised for not arresting leaders involved or suspected of participating in the 1994 genocide. The arrests came just two days after Rwandan Vice President and Defence Minister, Major General Paul Kagame paid a surprise six-hour visit to Nairobi. This was the first high-level contact between the two countries since Kenya closed the Rwandan embassy 13 months ago after Kigali refused to waive the immunity of a Rwandan diplomat implicated in the attempted assassination of an exiled Hutu politician. The visit is reported to have laid the groundwork for the return of a Rwandan ambassador to Nairobi, as well as for Kenyan support for Rwanda's application to join the East African Cooperation.

On Saturday, dozens of Rwandan refugees were rounded up by police after a swoop on three Nairobi slums. Sources in the refugee community said that the arrests were not related to the genocide trials. An officer in Nairobi's police headquarters said on Saturday that he was unaware of the refugee arrests.

Rwanda - Progress made in genocide trials

The United Nations Human Rights Field Office in Rwanda (HRFOR) says that progress has been made in genocide trials in Rwanda but that safety threats continue to overshadow the trial process. In a report released on Wednesday, HRFOR notes that charges of sexual crimes have only been brought against one defendant despite widespread rape during the 1994 genocide. The report which covers the first six months of 1997 commends inter alia an improved performance in terms of access by defendants to lawyers; the use of a confession proceedure; the appeal process and improved access by defendants to their case files prior to trial. In Byumba, Gitarama, Kibungo and Kigali Ville most accused have been repesented by lawyers provided by the NGO, Avocats sans Frontieres. By the end of June, 142 judgements had been handed down, including 61 death sentences and eight acquittals.

On Monday UNICEF called on the Rwandan government to give youths accused of mass killings a fair trial. A statement made ahead of the August opening of trials for young suspects urged that the questioning of child detainees be speeded up and those accused of minor offences released. As of 27 May, some 2,641 youths were being held in over-crowded prisons. DRC - Mini-summit held in Kinshasa

Nine African heads of State attended a mini-summit on "solidarity and development" in Kinshasa on Sunday. The leaders came from CAR, Eritrea, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The summit follows the publication of another critical UN report on the human rights record of the DRC forces. The human right group Amnesty International has urged the UN not to compromise the quality and independence of investigations into human rights violations in the DRC. A statement by the rights group on Wednesday said that while some member states publicly expressed concern, behind the scenes they were asking the UN to acede to demands of the DRC. The UN Secretary-General is to name his own team after investigations under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Commission were blocked by Kinshasa.

DRC - Border with Burundi reopens

The DRC reopened officially its border with Burundi on Tuesday in a further loosening of the regional embargo imposed on Burundi by neighbouring states after last year's coup. The BBC reported that both countries anticipated the resumption of trade to improve relations. Kenya, meanwhile, has also announced an unilateral lifting of fuel and aviation sanctions. African Airlines was scheduled to begin twice weekly flights between Nairobi and Bujumbura on Friday 19 July.

DRC - Airlift of refugees "more and more difficult"

UNHCR said Friday that the agency had airlifted over 56,000 Rwandan refugees from more than a dozen places in the DRC in an operation that has become "more and more difficult." Around 42,000 of the refugees have been flown from Kisangani since late April. According to UNHCR's Pam O'Toole, as of Friday, another 1,500 were in Kisangani waiting transportation. Some 9,000 refugees have also been airlifted from Mbandaka near the Congo-Brazzaville border. The refugees in Kisangani and Mbandaka area were among an estimated 24,000 refugees in DRC whose location is known to UNHCR, said O'Toole. A further 20,000 refugees are in Congo-Brazzaville, 3,800 in Central African Republic, 2,500 in Angola, 1,000 in Gabon amd 800 in Malawi. O'Toole said that UNHCR was attempting to track down other refugees in the DRC. In some cases, she said, it took up to two weeks of trekking by foot to reach small concentrations of exhausted and sick refugees.

O'Toole said that problems of access were still being faced in some areas because of increased military activities. A number of places could not be reached. In Shabunda, 200 refugees waiting to be airlifted home and a further 900 collected in waystations dispersed when troops arrived in the area. Rumours of troop presence also emptied a hospital of refugees 100 kms away in Katshungu. Military checkpoints had prevented travel any further south of Kisangani than kilometre seven earlier in the week, but this had subsequently been resolved.

DRC - Problems in Nouth Kivu/fighting in Masisi

Sources in eastern DRC reported this week that the North Kivu Provincial Security Committee had publicly acknowledged that undisciplined elements of the Army and the police have been reponsible for some insecurity in Goma. The authorities are establishing barracks north of Goma for all soldiers and police who are currently scattered in residences throughout the town. Security on South Kivu, meanwhile, is reported to be markedly better, although a number of minor security incidents continue. Most of these relate to fighting between government forces and ex-Far/Interahamwe or between government and Mai-Mai.

Ngungu, southwest of Sake in Masisi and other villages were also reported to have been attacked last weekend by a rebel group allegedly composed of ex-FAR, Interahamwe, Mai-Mai and ex-FAZ. According to local sources, Tutsi populations in the villagers fled. The situation was reported to be under control later in the week. Local authorities say that the attack was the work of bandits.

Congo-Brazzaville - Elections postponed

Talks aimed at restoring peace in the Congo were adjourned for a second time Monday as mediators awaited the arrival of Prime Minister David Charles Ganao. The talks in Libreville, Gabon had been postponed on Saturday to enable both sides to consult their leaders. Congo's constitutional council extended the mandate of President Pascal Lissouba and postponed elections, scheduled for 27 July, on Saturday to a date to be fixed. The decision has been fiercely criticised by the head of the delegation of Denis Sassou Nguesso, the predecessor and foe of Lissouba.

On Friday DRC authorities said that both sides in the Brazzaville conflict had hired mercenaries from the defeated army of ousted president Mobutu Sese Seko and threatened "military measures" if the DRC becomes the target of fresh provocations or more shots land in the capital, Kinshasa. DRC Deputy Interior Minister Faustine Munene told journalists that plots were underway in Brazzaville against the government of DRC president, Laurent-Desire Kabila. Alliance soldiers fired shots into the air in different districts of Kinshasa following a resumption of shooting in Brazzaville on Wednesday. Munene said that one of his bodyguards had been hit by a stray bullet from Brazzaville.

Kenya - Moi to meet with opposition groups to discuss reforms

Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi and oposition leaders are scheduled to meet in the coming week to discuss consitutional and statutory reforms. The dialogue began this week when Moi met religious leaders and annouced that permits would be issued automatically for public rallies, except for special circumstances, pending debate in parliament on a new public order bill. The enforcing of the former licencing regulations by security forces led to their violent suppression of pro-reform rallies on 7 July in which at least 13 people died. The violence sparked off a wave of protests across the county. The opposition argues that elections scheduled for later this year can not be free and fair wihout amending the "undemocratic and draconian" aspects of the constitution. Some opposition groups have reacted with scepticism and according to the Daily Nation pro-reform groups will push ahead with mass action plans to force the government to overhaul the constitution before elections. The East African said that the Kenya government's decision to move on constitutional reforms followed unprecedented international pressure, including threats from several major donors to suspend aid.

On Friday, mourners gathered in a Nairobi park for a funeral service for the demonstators killed in 7 July violence. Although the meeting was not licened, the police did not intervene.

Uganda - sources estimate 43,000 displaced

Humanitarian sources estimate the number of displaced in western Uganda's Bundibugyo district at 43,000 with 20,000 sheltering in the town and 15,000 in a trading centre. The others are believed to be scattered over a string of towns in Kabarole district. The security situation is reported to be fluid. Ugandan army sources, meanwhile, told the New Vision that at least 26 rebels of an Allied Democratic Front (ADF) unit that attacked Kasese town in western Uganda on Tuesday were killed later the same day in a clash with the Ugandan army. The 80-strong ADF group were reported to have raided the police barracks, an army detachment at Kasese airfield and the town council dispensary on Tuesday morning. The Ugandan government at the weekend said it was investigating the shootout but did not believe it was a rebel attack.

Sudan - Peace deal endorsed by council of ministers

Sudan's governing council of ministers is reported to have endorsed the legal apparatus for a peace deal with former southern rebels, excluding the SPLA that would pave the way for a self-determination referendum. A constitutional decree would also create a coordinating council to run affairs in southern Sudan during a four year interim period preceeding the referendum. The national assembly was due to meet Monday to debate the decree.

Earlier this week Sudanese pro-government forces claimed to have destroyed an Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army rebel camp in Al Wihda state. The same group, the South Sudan Defence Force also told newsmen that it had recaptured the town of Ayod in Jungolei state from the SPLA. Government sources claim that a number of other towns have been recaptured. Most of the West Equatoria region however remains under SPLA control.

[ENDS] Nairobi, 21 July 1997, 14:30 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, 21 Jul 1997 19:29:51 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 13-97 15-21 Jul 1997 97.7.21 Message-ID: <>

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

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