IRIN-CEA Update No. 733 for Central and Eastern Africa [19990811]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 733 for Central and Eastern Africa [19990811]

Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 21:44:44 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> To: Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN-CEA Update No. 733 for 11 August Message-ID: <> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: QUOTED-PRINTABLE

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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IRIN-CEA Update No. 733 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 11 August 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Vaccination truce in "most" areas

Warring parties in the DRC have stopped fighting in most areas of the country so that some 10 million children can be vaccinated against polio during the coming weekend, a statement from UN headquarters in New York said on Tuesday. The statement, received by IRIN, said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had appealed for "Days of Tranquility" to allow immunisation to go ahead, had received assurances from DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and rebel leaders that they would lay down their weapons. Even with continued localised fighting, relief agencies believe that the campaign can reach over 95 percent of children under five years, the statement said.

Volunteers will staff some 16,000 immunisation posts throughout the country with the support of UNICEF and WHO - the UN agencies spearheading efforts to eradicate polio from the world by the end of the year 2000. The DRC has the most intense virus transmission in the world, the statement said. "In the eradication effort we need to gain access to children in pockets of unrest and strife," WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland was quoted as saying. "If we miss a single village we will fail," Brundtland said.

Supplies dispatched for campaign

Some four million doses of polio vaccines have already been distributed in eastern DRC for the campaign, while main distribution points in government-controlled western DRC have received nearly all the supplies required, UNICEF said in a report received by IRIN on Tuesday. The evacuation of expatriate humanitarian workers from Kisangani would not affect the vaccination campaign in that area, the report said.

SA foreign minister in Kisangani

South Africa's foreign minister, Nkosanzana Zuma, was visiting the rebel-held city of Kisangani on Wednesday for renewed talks aimed at resolving the conflict, a South African government spokesman told IRIN. The spokesman said Zuma, who arrived in Kisangani on Tuesday, would team up with Zambia's minister of presidential affairs, Eric Silwamba. The spokesman said Zuma would be meeting rebel leaders, but that it was too early to give further details.

The two factions of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) are at odds over who should sign the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, which was endorsed last month by leaders of the countries involved in the conflict. Zuma was dispatched to Kisangani by President Thabo Mbeki following weekend talks with the presidents of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The South African news agency SAPA said on Tuesday that Zuma was expected to persuade the two factions to sign the accord.

City partitioned in wake of clashes

Ugandan and Rwandan troops backing the opposing RCD factions in Kisangani have effectively partitioned the city following weekend clashes between Ugandan forces supporting the RCD-Kisangani group and members of the Rwandan-backed RCD-Goma faction, AFP said on Tuesday. It quoted residents as saying Rwandan forces, however, played no part in the clashes. In spite of the city's partitioning, shops remained open, and the Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers seemed to be on cordial terms, AFP said.

Wamba declares "war"

RCD-Kisangani leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba told AFP in Kisangani on Tuesday that he was now "at war with RCD-Goma and the Rwandans." Wamba, ousted as RCD president in May, said "RCD-Goma provoked us, we don't understand why." Meanwhile, RCD-Goma on Tuesday accused Uganda of trying to split the rebel movement to further its own economic interests. "The Ugandans have many more economic objectives in the DRC than political or security ones," AFP quoted an RCD-Goma official as saying. "For this reason, their presence here is not justified," the official said.

New ceasefire violations alleged

The DRC defence ministry on Tuesday said its positions in northern Equateur and central Kasai Orientale provinces were shelled on Sunday and Monday "by the Uganda-Rwanda-Burundian coalition and their acolytes," in violation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. In a statement read on Congolese state television, the ministry said several civilians were wounded in the incidents.

RWANDA: Charges amended in an effort to establish joint trials

In Arusha, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday granted the prosecution leave to amend the indictments against three of six accused it wants to group in a joint trial. The three are former mayor of Muganza Elie Ndayambaje, former Rwandan Minister for Family and Women's Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and former militia leader Arsene Ntahobali, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Nyiramasuhuko and her son Ntahobali had already been jointly charged. The new charges include conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and public incitement to commit genocide. Additional crimes against humanity charges include one of rape against Nyiramasuhuko, who prosecutors allege encouraged mass rape in Butare prefecture, southern Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide.

The prosecution's efforts to link the trials - in order to speed up cases at the ICTR, which has passed only five sentences since 1994 - was held up for almost a year by a defence lawyers' appeal regarding who could hear the indictment amendment and joinder motions, but a decision by the ICTR Appeals Court in the Hague, Netherlands, on 3 June that the composition of trial chambers was not fixed allows the possibility of group trials.

Food prices on the rise

Food prices, which declined in the first half of the year, have started to increase in Rwanda following reduced yields from the recently-harvested 1999 B agricultural season, FAO said in its annual report on food supply and crop prospects in sub-Saharan Africa. The report said a delay in the start of the rainy season and late plantings combined with an early end of the rains had caused the reduced yields, particularly for cereals in high-altitude areas. Food production was also negatively affected in some areas by a shortage of agricultural inputs, mainly seeds. In the northwest and parts of Kibuye and Gitarama, food production remained seriously constrained by large-scale population displacement, the report added.

BURUNDI: Army clashes with Hutu rebels outside Bujumbura

Hutu rebels attacked the market town of Kanyosha, south of Bujumbura, on Tuesday morning but were repulsed by army forces who had noticed unusual movements of people in the previous few days, according to army claims reported by the Rwanda News Agency. "Heavy gunfire which echoed in the capital caused the population to panic and many fled towards the centre of the city," the same sources said, adding that by late afternoon, the situation had returned to normal and people had started to return home. The rebels reportedly fled to the hills in Mubezi, Muhuta, Mutambu and Mubimbi communes.

Production of pulses down 22 percent

Cereal output from the recently-harvested 1999 B season crops declined by 10 percent compared to the same season last year, while production of pulses was estimated to have decreased by 22 percent, FAO said in its annual report. Overall, food production was estimated to be 6 percent below the 1998 B harvest. The season was affected by a late start and early cessation of the rains, coupled with army worm attacks. In addition, increased prices of imported goods have worsened access of a large section of the population to basic food and non-food items. The number of displaced people still living in "re-groupment camps" was estimated at 543,000 people, the report said.

TANZANIA: Government bans child labour in mines

The Tanzanian government has banned the employment of children in mining areas, 'The Guardian' newspaper reported. Under the new regulations, which came into effect on Tuesday, a person holding a primary mining licence "shall not cause children below the age of 16 to be employed or engaged in any mining or processing operations in his primary mining licence area,"=20 the paper quoted the government as saying.

UGANDA: Raid on Bokora clan leaves 140 dead

A recent raid on the Bokora clan of the Karamong tribe in north-eastern Uganda by members of the Matheniko clan left at least 140 people dead, the semi-official newspaper 'The New Vision' reported on Wednesday. Survivors of the attack estimated the number of dead children at 70. They were reportedly thrown into fire after the invaders gutted their houses, the newspaper said.

KENYA: Bandits attack Red Cross convoy

A convoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was attacked by bandits 80 km north of Marsabit in northeastern Kenya as it returned from the Ethiopian border after transporting materials to the Ethiopian delegation of the ICRC. The attackers cut off two trucks to the rear of the police-escorted convoy and took personal items belonging to the drivers in an act of "pure banditry," a Red Cross spokesperson told IRIN on Wednesday. The drivers were unhurt and the trucks undamaged in the incident, the agency added.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: New election body set up

A new cross-party body charged with supervising the forthcoming presidential elections has been established in Bangui in order to guarantee maximum credibility and transparency in the electoral process, news agencies reported. The body will comprise 45 members, drawn from government and opposition parties, and was established at the request of the donor community to supervise the activities of the Independent Joint Electoral Commission in advance of the first round of the presidential contest, scheduled for 29 August.

Analysts highlight risk of election-related violence

Whoever wins the presidential election faces a huge task in keeping order, given the real danger that political rivals will resort to violence again if they don't like the election result, and especially if they suspect fraud, regional analysts have warned. A report by 'Africa Confidential' received by IRIN on Wednesday said the incumbent, President Ange-Felix Patasse=82 was favourite to win the contest, in which 10 candidates have declared, though probably not in the first round. The elections represent a test that the UN Mission in CAR (MINURCA), which is supervising the poll - and in parallel overseeing the restructuring of the army - cannot afford to fail because it is one of the UN's first attempts at "preventive peace-keeping", the report said.

UNITED NATIONS: New rules emphasise tactful openness with the media

The UN on Monday committed itself to being open and transparent in its dealings with the media and affirmed that, "as a matter of principle, every member of the Secretariat may speak to the press", though "within limits." In launching its new, written guidelines for relations with the media, the UN emphasised that UN media policy needed to "balance the need to be open and the need to respect confidentiality" or "protect a diplomatic process", and instructed staff to speak only within their areas of competence and responsibility; to provide facts, and not opinion or comment; and to leave sensitive issues to officials specifically authorised to speak on them.

The guidelines, received by IRIN on Tuesday, stated that UN staff should normally speak to journalists "on the record - that is, for attribution", but allowed that those authorised to address sensitive issues could give a journalist a deeper background briefing. In those cases, staff members should make clear to the journalists concerned the basis on which conversations are being held, either not for attribution (other than to cite "a UN official", for instance) or on deep background (to be used only for ideas and not attributable at all). The new rules were broadly welcomed by the 'New York Times' as an apparent improvement in an organisation it claimed "has often been extremely secretive about even the most mundane of information," though it noted a potential landmine in the advice that "officials should not feel they have to answer every question, in particular any hypothetical ones."

Nairobi, 11 August 1999 15:30 GMT


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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