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IRIN Daily Summary of Main Events in Burundi 28 August 1996
Sources for the information below include UN agencies, NGOs, other international organisations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources. IRIN does not guarantee a report every day - only when deemed necessary.
# The first meeting of the Regional Coordination Committee on Sanctions, due to take place on Saturday in Nairobi, has been postponed to next week and will take place in Arusha, according to Reuters. The same news report claims that the committee will not have the authority to exempt categories of relief items from the sanctions, but will focus instead on monitoring and ensuring compliance with them. The issue of exemptions will be dealt with by the Foreign Ministers of the sanctions-imposing countries, who have not met to discuss this issue since the Kampala declaration of 16 August. The news may come as a surprise to many observers of the region, who believed the committee would be the focal point for major policy decisions relating to the sanctions.
# The CNDD has stated that organisations wishing to fly planes across Burundian airspace must gain permission from the CNDD. A CNDD spokesman, speaking to the BBC from Brussels, claimed that a number of small planes were landing in Burundi and suggested that regional countries were not enforcing the sanctions strictly enough. He also alleged that the local authorities in the Rwandan province of Butare are involved in violating the sanctions.
# Nearly all of the Rwandan refugees in Burundi were reported to have returned to Rwanda by yesterday afternoon. The UNHCR declared its last camp for Rwandan refugees in Burundi closed after some 10,000 refugees left Rukuramigabo on Monday and Tuesday. They are now living in transit centres in Rwanda, where they are being given food, plastic sheeting, blankets and agricultural seeds and being transported to their home communes. Only 223 Rwandan refugees chose not to return; they are living in Magara while UNHCR seeks to find `an appropriate solution' for them.
# Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, remained without electricty today after a number of pylons in Bubanza province were damaged by Hutu rebels on Saturday and today. UN officials in Bujumbura have also expressed concern about the shortage of fuel in the capital, which they say is hampering relief efforts and may force a number of NGOs to halt operations altogether over the coming days and weeks. "The situation is critical", one UN official said.
# Journalists visiting the Giheta commune in Gitega province of Burundi heard accounts from local people of a massacre by the Burundian Army on July 27, in which over 70 civilians, nearly all Hutus, were killed. The accounts, from both Hutus and Tutsis, add to the weight of evidence that large-scale human rights abuses by the army took place in the province following the coup on July 25. Amnesty International has stated that 4,050 people were killed by the army at Giheta in Gitega province between July 27 and August 10, claims vehemently denied by Pierre Buyoya's spokesman.
# Members of the UN Security Council have been discussing a draft resolution on Burundi which proposes to impose an arms embargo on the country. The resolution, to be debated today (Wednesday), also calls for unconditional negotiations on a political settlement to be held within 60 days of the text's adoption. Failing this the resolution proposes "targeted measures" in the "political, military and diplomatic fields" aimed at political leaders who encourage violence. Mr Nsanze Terence, Burundi's Ambassador to the UN, called for the arms embargo proposal to be dropped, saying that the "unbelievably harsh measures" in the draft resolution would not be complied with by the armed bands and militias, which he claimed can purchase the weapons secretly and unlawfully.
# Pierre Buyoya, leader of Burundi, has claimed that the sanctions imposed on his country could create a humanitarian disaster. In an interview with the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, he also reiterated his willingness to undertake negotiations with Hutu rebels if they first lay down their arms. "The Hutus, quite legitimately, want power, but the Tutsis are afraid of it because there has been genocide here as in Rwanda", he was quoted as saying. On Monday, the rebel group PALIPEHUTU expressed its opposition to talks with Buyoya, calling him a "putschist". Major Buyoya also pledged to bring to justice those responsible for the assassination of former President Melchior Ndadaye, saying that "the dossiers on the putschists are there" and "we have to advance them to the stage of trials".
# Julius Nyerere, former President of Tanzania, and Howard Wolpe, US Special Envoy to Burundi, met today in Rome and discussed the Burundi crisis. No details have emerged from the talks but a source close to the meeting is reported to have said that an "exceptional diplomatic effort" is required to "bring forward acceptable proposals to defuse the ... conflict". The meeting follows talks between Nyerere and Pierre Buyoya last Sunday, in which Major Buyoya said he called for an African regional summit between Burundi and its neighbours.
# Mr Marc Faguy, UN Special Representative in Burundi, has called for the urgent holding of talks between all the parties to the conflict in Burundi. Speaking on Radio Burundi he said, "We believe that it is ... important and urgent that... a serious political dialogue be set in train by all the parties involved in Burundi, even those beyond its borders". The reference to parties beyond its borders was interpreted to include the Conseil National de la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD), the party lead by former Interior Minister Leonard Nyangoma whose armed wing is fighting within Burundi.
16:30 GMT, Nairobi
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From: UN DHA IRIN <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 19:30:58 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Burundi: IRIN Summary of Main Events for 28 August 1996 96.08.28 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.91.960828190628.11265Oemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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