Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up, 7/7/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up, 7/7/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

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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 11-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 1-7 July 1997.

DRC/UN: No agreement on massacre probe

After 10 days of talks the UN advance team and DRC government failed to reach agreement over the terms and composition of the mission to investigate allegations of massacres by troops loyal to President Laurent-Desire Kabila. A joint communique Friday outlined that the sticking points remained the authority's insistence that the probe's time frame should stretch back to 1993 instead of starting from September 1996, and should cover human rights violations committed under the 32-year rule of former Zairean leader Mobutu Sese Seko. The government was told by the UN negotiators that they did not have the mandate to discuss those two issues. The government also wants Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Roberto Garreton, off the investigation claiming his previous report alleging mass killings by Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) was not objective. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday that he was determined to "get to the facts" over the alleged massacres in eastern DRC. Friday's communique did however contain some positive developments. According to an 'agreement protocol', the government will guarantee the human rights mission free access to all parts of the country, respect witness confidentiality, and protect evidence uncovered when it finally begins its work. The government also plans a liaison committee to facilitate the investigation.

Rwanda/Burundi: Missing refugees

Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame Friday denied that Rwanda was involved in massacres of refugees in DRC. Speaking at celebrations to commemorate the Rwandan Patriotic Front's capture of Kigali in 1994, Kagame said they had done everything they could to make sure the majority of the refugees came home. Meanwhile, according to UNHCR, more than 200,000 Rwandans and around 35,000 Burundian refugees who had been in the DRC are still unaccounted for. The figures do not take into account "violent and non-violent deaths." More than 20,000 refugees are known to be still in DRC, and thousands of others in Congo, the Central African Republic, Angola and Tanzania. Humanitarian sources estimate the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern DRC to be around 190,000. Nearly 95,000 are in the Masisi, of whom the majority are people from the Hunde ethnic group prevented from going home by continuing insecurity. They are likely to resettle among their host communities. Some relief assistance reaches the Masisi through missionary groups and NGOs. Other smaller clusters of IDPs are in Walikale, Kirotshe, Rutshuru, South Kivu and Shaba areas.

DRC: Zambia to train police, army

Zambian radio said Thursday the Zambian government would soon start training military personnel and police in neighbouring DRC. Home Affairs Minister Chitalu Samba said some logistical issues needed to be sorted out first by a reformed joint commission between the two countries. Zambia is also eyeing the DRC market for the export of army boots and mining equipment. Reports from Uganda also said riot control trainers were being sent to Kinshasa to train Congolese security forces.

Kenya: Police crackdown on pro-reform rallies

Police cracked down hard Monday on unlicensed pro-reform rallies across the country in which at least four people died and dozens of others were wounded, according to press reports. Opposition parties had defied government warnings not to go ahead with rallies originally planned for 56 towns to protest draconian public order laws which they claim are among the impediments to free and fair elections later this year. In the inevitable confrontation, independent observers described the initially peaceful demonstrations as being violently broken up by the security forces and degenerating into running battles in which live ammunition was fired and teargas hurled back and forth between the police and rioters. Both sides can however claim a partial success from the day's events. The government was able to prevent the rallies it had declared illegal from taking place, while the opposition can point to the fact that much of the country's urban centres were brought to a standstill. Shops remained shuttered and most workers had stayed home.

Burundi: Coup plot trial Three Burundian army officers and a politician appeared before the Supreme Court Friday charged with taking part in the failed coup in 1993 that led to the death of elected Prime Minister Melchior Ndadaye. AFP reported that the four, Lieutenant-Colonels Isaie Nibizi, Jean Bikomagu and Charles Ntakije, and Francois Noeze, a member of parliament for the Unity for National Progress (UPRONA) party, denied the charges, but entered no formal pleas. Nibizi, who is currently the army spokesman, but was commander of the 2nd Commando Battalion at the time, is accused of delaying the transmission of orders, thus allowing the assassination of Ndadaye to take place. He said he warned Bikomagu, then army chief of staff, that coup rumours were circulating. Ntakije, who was minister of defence and is now an aide to Pierre Buyoya is also accused of deliberately failing to aid Ndadaye. Noeze said the mutineers forced him to follow their orders under threat of death. The four men are among a total of 77 facing charges related to the coup attempt. The assassination of Burundi's first Hutu president precipitated a bitter conflict between Tutsis and Hutus that continues to destabilize the country.

Burundi: Conditions alarming

Humanitarian sources described the overall situation in Burundi's Nyanza Lac area as alarming. The regular water supply is still cut off since rebels sabotaged the pipes at the end of April, health centres have been looted and no longer function, and most schools are closed. The sources point out that 80,000 inhabitants of Nyanza Lac, along with displaced people, need clean water. They are currently drinking contaminated water from Lake Tanganyika. And, despite a good harvest in Burundi's 1997-B season, FAO pointed out that countrywide, both retail and wholesale prices remain high. In Bujumbura, the weekly food expenditure of an average family was estimated at 10,425 Burundi francs (FBu), as of June 27. The pre-sanctions estimate was 5,228 FBu.

Burundi: Concern over villagisation threat

Concern is growing among the humanitarian community that the Burundi government's intention to start dismantling regroupment camps may be followed by a policy of villagisation. Humanitarian sources say that in Kayanza, which may be the first province to start dismantling the camps, government plans are not to send people back to their often isolated homes but to relocate them along roads. New houses are to be built along existing roads and new roads constructed where there are none. New roads would effectively encircle small villages which, from a military point of view, would be easy to monitor. The government originally justified the regroupment camps as the only way of separating civilians from armed Hutu rebels waging war against the army in the countryside. Living conditions in many of the camps are poor with high levels of malnutrition. The international community, which has pressurised for their closure, has called for people to be sent home. Humanitarian sources say they will not support the roadside settlement scheme, which effectively implies that military criteria take precedence over humanitarian issues. Uganda: No to CEPGL

Uganda has poured cold water on efforts by Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to revive their economic grouping, the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), according to last week's 'EastAfrican'. Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, said the grouping would probably fail because Rwanda had applied to join the East African Cooperation (which groups Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) and Burundi had expressed interest in joining. At the recent OAU summit in Harare, President Yoweri Museveni described any regrouping of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC as unnecessary, the newspaper said.

Congo: New peace attempt

Former Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso Monday rejected calls for fresh peace talks after the latest negotiated ceasefire expired over the weekend in a new round of fighting between his forces and those of his rival, President Pascal Lissouba. Mediators, led by Brazzaville mayor Bernard Kolelas, had set Wednesday as the new date for a truce in the fighting that has left hundreds dead and scores more wounded since June 5. Sassou Nguesso's spokesman, Isidore Mvouba, however described the talks as "poorly prepared". He also rejected the proposed extension of Lissouba's mandate for three months to allow the postponement of elections set for July 27, and instead called for the creation of a transitional government. A transitional arrangement has however been rejected by Lissouba's supporters, arguing that Congo has a legally-elected government.

With the army divided and the militiamen of both men acting increasingly independently of political control, the UN Security Council Thursday backed the deployment of a peacekeeping force. The force of up to 1,000 would be made up of mainly African troops and its main job would be to secure Brazzaville airport. It is however unclear who would lead the intervention and how it would be financed. The OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun, said an international force could prevent the escalation of the conflict into Kinshasa, and stop the flow of arms into Brazzaville. It would also protect humanitarian agencies as they assist the victims of the conflict.

CAR: Calm in Bangui

A ceasefire between army mutineers in the Central African Republic (CAR) and African peacekeepers held over the weekend raising hopes that further talks could begin to lay the ground for the rebels' reintegration into the army. However, only around one-quarter of the nearly 100,000 people displaced by the fighting in Bangui heeded the call of Malian mediator General Amadou Toumani Toure and returned to their homes, the rest preferring a wait-and-see approach after three mutinies in under a year. The ceasefire agreement was signed Wednesday. It also aims to stop the problem of looting, and deals with ways of reintegrating the rebels into the government forces. Humanitarian agencies in CAR have appealed for emergency assistance for people displaced in the Bangui region by the conflict. Most urgent needs are shelter materials as it is currently the rainy season. Some people are said to be in a poor condition and in dire need of assistance.

Uganda: Rebel victims

The decomposing bodies of 50 people, apparent victims of a rebel attack, have been found in Uganda's western Bundibudgyo district bordering the DRC, AFP reported Sunday. Government officials claimed close to 100 people killed by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in attacks in the area last month were buried elsewhere, but the number did not include "those rotting in the bush". Meanwhile, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, said Thursday she was deeply concerned about thousands of children who have been abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. 5-8,000 children are estimated to have been taken captive from Gulu and Kitgum and trained as fighters or kept as slaves or wives for rebel commanders, many of whom operate from bases in southern Sudan. She suggested that the Sudanese government would find a "most suitable forum" for announcing their release at the forthcoming Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of state summit due to be held in Nairobi on 8 July.

Uganda: Famine relief The Ugandan government is taking steps to deal with famine in northern and northwestern areas, Uganda radio said Wednesday. The Prime Minister Kintu Musoke told parliament that 852 million Ugandan shillings had already been released to purchase food relief and a further 500 million would be released later. Stricken areas include Gulu, Kitgum, Arua, Kasese and Wayo, which are affected by attacks involving rebel groups.

Sudan: No to multipartyism

Sudan's President Omar al Beshir put an end to the speculation and ruled out a return to multi-party politics. AFP reported that the Sudanese strongman vowed Friday that the opposition "will never have a foothold in Sudan unless they have openly declared their repentance". He warned that mounting rebel pressure would be met by the recruitment of more 'popular defence' militia units to 'liberate' captured territory in the south. Meanwhile, the humanitarian condition of people in the southern town of Rumbek captured by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in April has been described as desperate. Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, the Apostolic Administrator for Rumbek Diocese, made an urgent appeal for humanitarian assistance for the stream of Sudanese refugees returning from camps in northern Uganda and from other government-held areas in south Sudan.

Nairobi, 7 July 1997, 17:30 gmt [ENDS]

[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, 7 Jul 1997 20:37:00 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up 11-97 1-7 Jul 1997 97.7.7 Message-ID: <>

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

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