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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 31-98 covering the period 24-30 July 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila tells Rwandan troops to leave
President Laurent-Desire Kabila ordered all Rwandan soldiers to quit the armed forces and leave the country. A brief statement read out by a military commander over state television late on Monday said the Rwandan troops - who played a key role in toppling ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko - were ordered to leave the armed forces with immediate effect. "Via these soldiers, he (Kabila) thanks the Rwandan people for the solidarity they have shown us up to now," the statement said. The statement also thanked the Congolese people for "tolerating and sheltering" the Rwandan troops.
Earlier this month, the DRC leader replaced his Rwandan army chief-of-staff James Kabare with Celestin Kifwa, a former Mobutu general from Kabila's home province of Katanga. And in a cabinet reshuffle in June, analysts say Kabila "demoted" Deogratias Bugera, the Tutsi former leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), by appointing him Minister of State in the president's office.
Relations between DRC and Rwanda are poor with Kigali accusing Kabila's army of not doing enough to contain the DRC-based Hutu-led rebellion. The Rwandan embassy in Kinshasa is staffed only by an attachee and a replacement for the ambassador, who left earlier this year, has yet to arrive.
Minister warns against Tutsi witch-hunt
Following the withdrawal of the Rwandan troops, Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo cautioned against a witch-hunt of Tutsis in the country. He told a news conference anyone found inciting ethnic hatred would be severely dealt with, adding that the government had noticed a surge in ethnic propaganda since the withdrawal announcement. According to Reuters, members of the presidential guard have been moving into luxury flats and houses formerly occupied by Rwandan commanders. News reports said about 100 Rwandan army soldiers arrived back in Kigali on Wednesday night.
UNHCR signs cooperation accord with government
UNHCR and the government have signed a cooperation agreement aimed at boosting UNHCR operations in the country, particularly regarding access to thousands of Angolan refugees fleeing fighting in their country. A UNCHR press release on Tuesday described the task ahead as "huge", noting that DRC was currently hosting some 232,000 refugees from Sudan, Uganda, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo-Brazzaville. A vast repatriation programme was also underway for Congolese who had fled to neighbouring countries, especially Tanzania. UNHCR's Regional Director Pierce Gerety remarked that the agency and DRC had agreed to work together in alleviating the plight of refugees and their host communities.
RWANDA: Judge denies resigning from ICTR
The Swedish judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Lennart Aspegren, has denied resigning from the Tribunal. In an interview with the Hirondelle news agency from his home in Stockholm, he said: "I have not resigned. I am simply not a candidate when they come to elect future judges." His four-year mandate ends in May 1999, he added. Aspegren reiterated his discontent with the Tribunal's administration, but declined to comment on a statement from the ICTR on Tuesday which criticised him personally.
In statements to the media earlier this month, the Swedish judge announced his resignation citing "mismanagement and incompetence" in the Tribunal's administration. A damning statement from the Tribunal on "Facts and Fiction" surrounding Aspegren's comments, received by IRIN on Wednesday, accused the judge of a "media campaign" against the ICTR. According to the statement setting out the registry's position, Aspegren sought to interfere in the Tribunal's administrative affairs "in contravention of [his] conditions of service". The statement rejected the judge's accusations and took issue with Aspegren's own behaviour, claiming delivery of the Tribunal's first judgement, due this month, had been postponed because he "insisted" on taking leave.
ICTR president defends tribunal
On Tuesday, ICTR President Judge Laity Kama had issued a more muted response to Judge Aspegren's comments. In a statement, he admitted the remarks had caused "surprise", and he defended the court's new registrar whose arrival "has led to appreciable changes in the judges' working conditions". While acknowledging the situation was "far from perfect", Judge Laity Kama felt it was more appropriate "to favour the path of cooperation over the kind of fruitless confrontation which so poisoned the atmosphere of the ICTR in the past".
Defence lawyers claim administrative problems at the
court have "tainted the process" to the detriment
of the defendants, a source close to defence lawyers
at the tribunal told IRIN. He said the recent allegations
by Judge Aspegren "raised doubts about the quality
of the handling of these cases". Defence lawyers
are likely to use complaints about prosecutors and
the registry "far beyond administrative matters"
in current cases and possibly during appeal.
Top rebel commander killed
Rwandan troops killed some 250 Hutu rebels, including one of their top leaders, in a military sweep in the conflict-torn northwest of the country, news reports quoted a military source as saying on Friday. The source identified the rebel commander as Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Nkundiye. The Rwandan army had carried out two operations in the region over the previous two days - one around Giciye, where 200 rebels were reported to have been killed and the other near Ruhengeri in which 50 other rebels were said to have been killed. Nkundiye was a top commander in the Hutu-dominated army of former President Juvenal Habyarimana. On Saturday, the army killed a further 40 rebels when they repulsed an attack in Byumba prefecture. On Tuesday, Rwandan radio reported villagers were fleeing rebel strongholds in part of Ruhengeri prefecture following Nkundiye's death. The radio said some 15,000 people had fled after being intimidated by "infiltrators".
Belgian missionaries freed
Two Belgian missionaries abducted by Rwandan rebels in Ruhengeri prefecture last week have been released, the Rwanda News Agency reported, citing church and government officials. The release was confirmed by the Belgian foreign ministry. The two missionaries, belonging to the White Fathers order, were found early on Friday near Nemba church, 25 km south of Ruhengeri town, a senior government official told RNA.
BURUNDI: Peace talks end in Arusha, next meeting in October
The second round of peace talks in the Tanzanian town of Arusha ended on Wednesday with an agreement to meet again on 12 October, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. It cited mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, as saying the next stage would focus on the creation of working committees to debate issues of democracy and good governance as well as security. He added that points of disagreement at the current round of talks, such as the rules of procedure, could be resolved before the October session. Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba meanwhile told Hirondelle the government "no longer had any reservations" with regard to Arusha as the talks' venue.
Belgian minister visiting to discuss aid
Belgian Secretary of State for Development Cooperation Reginald Moreels was due in Bujumbura on Thursday on a three-day visit. Analysts told IRIN he would have talks with government officials during which he is expected to pledge further aid to Burundi. Belgium is especially supportive of the food-for-work programmes, education, healthcare and road construction. It is also contributing financially to the Arusha peace process.
Amnesty says judiciary "not impartial"
Amnesty International accused Burundi's judiciary of being "neither independent nor impartial". In a report, it claimed many trials had been "grossly unfair". "The majority...have failed to meet internationally recognised standards for fair trial," the report said. Prison conditions were harsh and aggravated by severe overcrowding, the report added.
WFP worker killed in Bujumbura
WFP said a staff member was killed by unknown assailants at his home in Bujumbura last week. According to a WFP news release, Renato Ricciardi was robbed and shot dead on arrival at his house. WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini expressed shock and sorrow over the "senseless killing".
ICRC reopens office
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reopened an office in Burundi at the beginning of July after an absence of two years. ICRC had pulled out of the country after the killing of three international staff members in Cibitoke in June 1996. OCHA-Burundi says the organisation's objectives for the time being are to renew ties with the authorities with a view to the possibility of restarting activities. The dialogue will be resumed on the understanding that the investigation into the 1996 killings continues.
Confiscated church property to be returned
Education Minister Prospere Mpawenayo has said the government plans to return church property confiscated in the 1970s during the rule of Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, the All Africa News Agency reported. Among the property to be returned are many schools, and AANA says the move comes at a time when it is clear the government is financially unable to run the institutions. The property was confiscated under Bagaza because it was believed the Catholic Church was becoming too powerful. However AANA points out many of the schools are now old and badly maintained, and it is not clear whether the church will accept them.
More rebel attacks reported
There have been more security incidents in Burundi, including provinces that have been fairly stable for a long time, humanitarian sources told IRIN. In Kayanza, rebels attacked Musema overnight Sunday, surrounding the town before reportedly taking control of the military post, ransacking the health centre and damaging the hospital. In another incident, people were seen fleeing Giganga commune in Bubanza province following a rebel attack. According to the sources, two missions had to turn back on their way to Cibitoke along RN5. Details are sketchy, but apparently the rebels are being chased into DRC.
WFP's latest weekly report confirmed an increase in insecurity in the western provinces. It said several NGOs had suspended operations in Cibitoke province, and all UN missions to Bubanza and Makamba had been halted, although food distributions are allowed in the latter province under military escort. Additionally, planned food distributions to feeding centres in Bururi province remain suspended due to insecurity.
10 rebels killed in clashes
Burundi radio said 10 insurgents were killed in clashes between the army and rebels at Mbuye commune in Muramvya province on Tuesday. A civilian and two soldiers were also reported killed. A military operation is underway to flush rebels out of the nearby Kibira forest.
UGANDA: LRA rejects UN official's peace mediation
The rebel Lord's Resistance Army has rejected the involvement of a UN official in seeking a solution to the insurgency in northern Uganda, the 'New Vision' daily reported on Monday. LRA spokesman Ladit Balgara accused the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Ugandan Olara Otunnu, of "ignoring" the LRA "political leadership".
SUDAN: US minister urges pressure on Khartoum government
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice called on her government to put more pressure on the Sudanese authorities to change their policies. Addressing a joint hearing of two House International Relations subcommittees, she noted USAID was providing US $4 million in development assistance to areas administered by Sudanese opposition groups, AP reported. "Too many Sudanese are going hungry largely because of indefensible government policies," she said. "We must continue our broader policy of pressuring (Sudan) to change fundamentally its behaviour."
Rice also said the US was considering delivering US $3.85 million worth of non-lethal defensive military assistance to Uganda this year to help it combat rebel insurgencies, particularly "Sudanese-sponsored aggression". "We are concerned that the (Ugandan) government's military response may not be enough," she said. "To date, it has not succeeded in eliminating the (Lord's Resistance Army) rebels."
No progress in government-SPLA talks, say rebels
Talks between government and rebel SPLA representatives in Rome last week made no progress, according to an SPLA spokesman in Cairo. AFP quoted the spokesman, Yasser Arman, as saying the talks dealt with re-establishing peace but the lack of progress "confirms that peace in Sudan will be difficult while an Islamic regime is in power".
WFP issues urgent appeal for help
WFP has issued an urgent appeal to the international donor community to increase its funding and "prevent all-out famine" in Sudan. In a news release on Monday, the UN agency said it needed extra funds to expand emergency food aid deliveries to victims of war and drought in south Sudan. It cited unofficial reports as saying up to 80 people were dying daily of malnutrition in Wau, capital of Bahr al-Ghazal state. WFP estimated costs until April 1999 at US $154.5 million and said pledges received so far amounted to 40 percent of the total.
Floods make 5,000 homeless
One person was killed and 5,000 are reported homeless after flooding in the western al-Fashir area, Khartoum news reports said. Al-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state, was hit by torrential rain over the weekend. An emergency relief commission has reportedly been formed and general mobilisation declared in the state. High-level government officials flew to the area to supervise the relief operation, according to the reports.
Peace talks open in Addis next week
The next round of peace talks between the government and rebel SPLA, mediated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is due to be held on 4-6 August in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Sudanese radio quoted an adviser to the president, Ahmad al-Tahir Hamdum, who said the talks would focus on relations between the state and religion, and the right to self-determination.
UNITED NATIONS: UNHCR criticised, but some of the blame rests with governments
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard has said an article in the British 'Financial Times' on UNHCR's financial affairs is based on a draft report by external auditors. He told a press briefing on Wednesday it was unfair the draft had been leaked to the press before the final report could be submitted to the General Assembly. The newspaper article contains claims of dubious accounting and incompetent management within UNHCR, including allegations of excessive spending by top officials. But it noted that the international community is also to blame for not doing more to help UNHCR and voluntary agencies cope with the consequences of a huge refugee population worldwide. The newspaper says former Zaire illustrates the point, where it was well-known that Rwandan killers were being fed and sheltered in refugee camps. "But when the crunch came and international military intervention was needed to separate genuine refugees from armed militia, the outside world backed away," the 'Financial Times' said.
It cited UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski who said possible "petty-cash accounting problems and sloppy bookkeeping" did not undermine the agency "as a financially sound and accountable organisation". Eckhard also said a "full and robust" rebuttal by UNHCR could be expected.
Nairobi, 31 July 1998
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Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 10:00:19 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 31-98 24-30 July 1998.7.31 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980731095826.3338Cemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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