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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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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 37 covering the period 11-17 September 1999
BURUNDI: December deadline for peace accord
Mediators and donor envoys involved in the Arusha peace process have set December as a deadline for reaching a peace accord, the head of the pro-Tutsi PARENA party, Remy Nkengurutse, told the Internews agency on Thursday. The deadline appears to have caused some consternation, with regional analysts commenting that any agreement reached under pressure will be meaningless. According to Internews, some delegates at the Arusha talks, which resumed on Monday, commented the deadline was imposed to please the donors who are growing impatient with the slow rate of progress at the talks.
66 killed in six days of fighting
Six days of fighting near Bujumbura have claimed the lives of six soldiers and 60 rebels, AFP reported, citing military sources. The clashes, which reportedly began last Thursday, took place in the Mutambu district of Bujumbura Rural province.
Defence ministry says comment on journalists misinterpreted
The defence ministry has denied ordering the military to consider journalists as enemies, and accused some journalists of "false reports". In a statement, sent to IRIN on Monday, the ministry clarified that journalists were free to travel throughout Burundi and the army posed no threat to them.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: National debate to take place in 30 days
DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila on Wednesday announced his government was planning to hold the country's national debate - a condition of the Lusaka accord - in Kinshasa in 30 days' time, state television reported. He said it could only be held in Kinshasa because "we have the necessary facilities". He assured rebel groups of their safety in the city, saying the government had already made the "pledge" by offering the rebels an amnesty. However, according to the BBC, the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)-Goma faction has refused to take part in the debate.
UN military officers start deployment
The first 10 UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) were deployed to regional capitals on Monday after completing a three-day induction course in Nairobi, the UN Regional Humanitarian Advisor's Office told IRIN on Tuesday. Ten more MLOs were scheduled to be deployed over the course of the week. Some 90 MLOs are expected to be attached to the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) - as approved by the UN Security Council last month - to support the implementation the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The MLOs deployed on Monday were posted to Kinshasa, Windhoek, Kampala, Kigali and Harare.
Army denounces Ugandan move to Gbadolite
The Forces armees congolaises (FAC) on Wednesday expressed "indignation" over the fact that the Ugandan army had moved its DRC headquarters from Kisangani to Gbadolite, Congolese state television reported. "Such an attitude not only constitutes scorn for the Democratic Republic of Congo, but is also an insult to the international community which involved itself in the preparation and signing of the Lusaka ceasefire," the army said in a statement.
RCD-Kisangani moves to Bunia
Ernest Wamba dia Wamba's RCD faction has moved its headquarters from Kisangani to Bunia for "security reasons", the 'New Vision' reported on Saturday. It quoted a Wamba loyalist, Mbusa Nyamwisi, as saying when the situation improved, the faction would return to Kisangani.
Meanwhile, tensions between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the DRC remained "very high", South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad told a parliamentary meeting on Monday, the 'Business Day' newspaper reported.
More samples taken to determine Durba illness
Blood and tissue samples taken from suspected haemorrhagic fever cases in Durba, Province Orientale, were to be flown on Wednesday to Uganda for forwarding by WHO to testing laboratories at the National Institute of Virology in South Africa and the United States Centre for Disease Control, an MSF official told IRIN on Tuesday. "In June, July and August, there were probably somewhere around 15 new suspected cases", identified in the Durba area, but there has been no laboratory confirmation of the presence of haemorrhagic fever since May, the official said. Last week's samples were collected from among nine suspected cases identified between end July and end August, of whom four died.
Meanwhile, a sample taken from a recent suspected case in nearby Isiro earlier this month has tested negative for haemorrhagic fever, a WHO official told IRIN on Monday, saying the victim had "died from something other than haemorrhagic fever".
Rights group highlights insecurity in Beni area
The main DRC human rights organisation, ASADHO, has described the level of insecurity in Beni as reminiscent of the "worst moments of indiscipline of the Forces armees zairoises (FAZ)" in the area. In a report, ASADHO said banditry reigned in Beni, and the presence of Ugandan troops had not put an end to Ugandan rebel activity.
Minister "disappointed" over business attitude
Economy Minister Bemba Saolona - father of rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba - expressed disappointment over what he called the failure of his efforts to foster a better partnership between business and the government, Reuters reported on Monday. Saolona said many businessmen continued to indulge in "malpractices" associated with the corrupt regime of former president Mobutu Sese Seko, in spite of the Kabila government's recent suspension of some economic control measures.
New foreign currency directives
The DRC Central Bank has announced new directives for travellers, due to come into effect on Wednesday, state television reported. Anyone leaving or entering the country will be obliged to declare the amount of foreign currency in their possession.
RWANDA: Bishop goes on trial
The trial of Catholic bishop Augustin Misago, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, began in Kigali on Tuesday, news organisations reported. In the court, Misago, whose diocese is Gikongoro, maintained his innocence and insisted he was being made a scapegoat. The trial was then postponed until 23 September.
New genocide trial next month
The prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on Thursday asked permission to amend the indictment against the former mayor of Mabanza in western Rwanda, Ignace Bagilishema. The Hirondelle news agency said the prosecutor intended to reduce the number of charges from 13 to six by "merging some and adding new ones". The new charges would include "complicity in genocide and causing outrages upon the personal dignity of Tutsi women". The defence for Bagilishema, whose trial begins next month, opposed the motion, saying it would constitute a "grave injustice". On Friday, the ICTR granted the prosecution's amendment request, Hirondelle reported.
Kisangani clashes report "fair"
Rwanda's Director of Information Wilson Rutayisire termed the report on the recent clashes between the Rwandan and Ugandan armies in Kisangani as "fair" and "castigated some Ugandan officials who are denouncing its findings," Uganda's semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Thursday. Media organisations say the report - which has not been made public - places the bulk of the blame for the clashes on the Ugandan soldiers.
UGANDA: Fresh inquiry into Kisangani clashes
Meanwhile, the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) high command has set up a new committee to probe the cause of the Kisangani clashes, the 'New Vision' said. The five-member committee, chaired by State Minister for Defence Stephen Kavuma, began work on Tuesday, a day after the army high command rejected the joint Rwandan-Ugandan report.
Up to 400 dead in ethnic fighting
Up to 400 people are believed to have died following three days of "intense" ethnic fighting in eastern Uganda, news organisations and humanitarian workers reported. The clashes began last week after the mainly pastoralist Bokora ethnic group attacked their Matheniko tribesmen at Moru Ariwon village between Moroto and Kotido. "It was a fierce battle by all accounts," a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) official told IRIN on Tuesday. "Our staff on the ground say about 200 people could have died in this attack," he said. In a bid to quell the fighting, an army helicopter shelled the Kalosarich area on Friday killing an unknown number of warriors mostly from the raiding Bokora group, the LWF official confirmed.
Unconfirmed reports say the incident could have been a revenge attack following a raid in late July by the Matheniko group on the Bokora in Turutuko village, in which some 140 people reportedly died. Other reports blame looming food scarcity and drought in the region that is forcing residents to move in search of food, water and pasture.
Over 400 rebels surrender in northwest
More than 400 rebels of the West Nile Bank Front and National Rescue Front II have reportedly surrendered to the government, Ugandan radio said last Friday. Quoting the minister of state for child affairs, Mary Nsanzi Kakembo, it said they would be assisted by the government.
Research institute becomes regional polio testing centre
The Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe has been declared by WHO as a reference centre for polio testing for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern DRC and Ethiopia, WHO's representative Hatib Njie confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday. The decision was taken as part of the global effort to eradicate polio.
Assessment shows 700,000 affected by drought
An assessment team sent by the Ugandan government to assess the food situation following reports of drought indicated that 700,000 people have been affected by drought and may require food assistance, WFP's latest emergency report said. WFP has organised a follow-up assessment.
TANZANIA: Arrest warrants issued for 10 opposition leaders
Zanzibar's Attorney-General Ali Mohamed Omar has issued arrest warrants for 10 top opposition leaders of the Civic United Front (CUF), including the party's vice chairman Sharrif Hamad, Tanzanian news organisations reported on Thursday. Omar told journalists that investigations into the 10 linked them to an alleged coup attempt to overthrow Zanzibar's President Salmin Amour. They will face treason charges along with 17 other people. Earlier, the CUF had accused the country's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of "conspiring to make sure the party was deregistered", 'The Guardian' newspaper reported. Hamad on Saturday said the CCM was "using sheikhs in mosques to campaign for deregistration".
Malnutrition in refugee-affected villages
A recent UNICEF-supported survey among children in western Tanzanian villages has found that the malnutrition rate among village children is higher than in the area's refugee camps. The survey measured about 1,150 children under five years old in 16 villages surrounding the refugee camps in the Kagera and Kigoma regions. It found that 8.9 percent of the children were malnourished, using the weight for height methodology. Meanwhile, preliminary results of nutritional surveys in four villages around the Lugufu refugee camp indicate a global malnutrition rate of 5.2 percent, including 2.8 percent severe malnutrition, a recent WFP emergency report said.
KENYA: "Alarming" malnutrition in pastoral areas
Successive poor production seasons in pastoral areas of eastern and northern Kenya continue to negatively affect the food security status of the area's population, the latest USAID Famine Early Warning System bulletin said. Heightened insecurity and regional cereal deficits have contributed to increased vulnerability in those areas, it said. "In several pastoral districts and in localised areas, alarmingly high rates of child malnutrition are indicative of severe food insecurity," the bulletin said.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Preparations complete for Sunday's poll
The UN Security Council expressed concern over the week-long postponement of the 12 September presidential poll and urged all political parties to adhere to the new electoral schedule. Meanwhile, in a press release sent to IRIN, the electoral commission [CEMI], foreign partners and the UN mission MINURCA said the postponement had enabled preparations for the poll to be finalised. Ballot papers were now available throughout the country for the first round on 19 September, the release said.
Two killed in pre-election violence
Meanwhile, two people were killed and at least two dozen others injured during pre-election violence in Bangui last Friday, news agencies said. The violence took place when a group of supporters of the ruling party was attacked by about 100 supporters of former president and opposition candidate Andre Kolingba.
AIDS ravaging education system
AIDS is the number one killer of the country's teachers, contributing to a serious shortage of primary school instructors, a recent UNICEF study has found. In 1996 and 1997, HIV/AIDS was responsible for over 85 percent of the teacher deaths for which the causes were determined, the study found. Some 107 primary schools were closed between 1996-98 due to lack of teachers. The pandemic was having "important repercussions on the CAR education system", which was already in a "deep and serious malaise," the report said. "Without the HIV/AIDS infection, 25,000 more children aged between 6 and 11 years could have been educated over the past three years," it found.
ETHIOPIA: Meeting with Somali faction leaders denied
Ethiopia has denied media reports of a meeting between Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin and Somali faction leaders this week. The Somali newspaper 'Xog-Ogaal' on Wednesday claimed Seyoum met Husayn Aideed of the Somali National Alliance and Uthman Ato of the United Somali Congress in Libya during which they agreed on a six-point peace plan. According to the newspaper, this included "Ethiopia stopping military interference in Somalia" in return for Aideed ending support for "Ethiopia's enemies".
Food availability increases
A report by the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia says food availability for drought relief operations improved significantly in August, but concern remains over the targeting of food aid due to a possible increase in the number of beneficiaries.
SOMALIA: Fighting in southern areas
The 'Xog-Ogaal' newspapers claimed fighters of the Somali National Front-Buraleh wing, aided by Ethiopia, captured the town of Garbhaarrey in the southwestern Gedo region on Monday. Eleven people were reportedly killed and 16 others wounded in the clashes which pitted the Buraleh wing against the rival SNF wing of Umar Haji Masaleh. Meanwhile, fighting in the Kismaayo area on Tuesday claimed "many lives", 'Qaran' newspaper reported on Thursday. The clashes, between militia forces of the Habar Gidir and Marehan clans, were reportedly sparked off by the killing of some Marehan members.
UN dismayed over murder of UNICEF official
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has expressed regret and dismay over the killing of a senior UNICEF official in Somalia. Dr Ayoub Sheikh Yerow, a senior project officer with UNICEF in Baidoa, was fatally wounded in an ambush on the road from Jowhar to Afgoi while on a humanitarian mission on Wednesday. Five other officials travelling with him were wounded. In a statement, de Mello noted that "this unacceptable act of violence" occurred on the eve of a Security Council debate on protecting civilians in armed conflict and "serves as a grim reminder of the impunity with which lives are taken in conflict areas around the world".
SUDAN: Government says flooding "out of control"
Sudan's presidential advisor Ahmad Ali al-Imam on Monday said 75 percent of the northern town of Dunqulah was under floodwater. Sudanese radio quoted him as saying the flood situation in the town and surrounding areas was "beyond the control of individuals and institutions". He called for urgent shelter, food supplies and water tanks to provide drinking water, in addition to medicines to face health problems resulting from the situation.
Reconciliation meeting set for October
A meeting of the preparatory committee for a national accord between the government and the opposition has been set for October, Suna news agency reported. The agency quoted Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Ismail as saying this agreement was reached during a meeting between Sudanese, Libyan and Egyptian foreign ministers on the fringes of the recent OAU summit in Libya. The foreign ministers also agreed on further contacts with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the IGAD Partners Forum to notify them that the Egyptian-Libyan initiative was not a substitute to that of IGAD.
Faction leader killed
News organisations reported that Sudanese militia leader Kerubino Kuanyan Bol was killed last Friday by Peter Gadet, an operations' officer of a pro-government militia group loyal to Paulino Mateb. Local news reports said Kerubino was killed in an ambush during a trip to Wahdah province at the invitation of his ally, Mateb.
Nairobi, 17 September 1999
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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