Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up, 9/1/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up, 9/1/97


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.]

IRIN Weekly Roundup 19-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region, covering the period 26 August to 1 September 1997

[Please note today's daily update is incorporated in this report]

BURUNDI - Tanzania calls new regional summit on Burundi Tanzania has called a regional summit for September 3 in Dar es Salaam in a fresh attempt to end the crisis in Burundi following the collapse of all-party peace talks last week and a heightening of tensions along the border with its central African neighbour. Reuters and AFP reported senior Tanzanian government officials as saying on Saturday that President Benjamin Mkapa had sent out invitations to the leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire). Mkapa chairs the regional grouping of states which imposed sanctions on Burundi last July following the coup that brought Pierre Buyoya to power.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Simon Ileta told AFP invitations had also been sent to Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, Mohamed Sahnoun, joint OAU/UN Special Representative to the Great Lakes region, and representatives from the European Union, Belgium, South Africa and the United States. Last week, peace talks led by former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere in Arusha, northern Tanzania, collapsed after the Burundi government refused to attend and attacked Nyerere for an alleged lack of even-handedness. Burundi Foreign Minister Luk Rukingama told Radio Burundi Nyerere had demonstrated "openly that he has chosen sides". Nyerere infuriated Bujumbura by backing a decision by regional foreign ministers to maintain sanctions against Buyoya's government for failing to implement pro-democracy conditions. The collapse of the peace process coincided with mounting tension between the two countries and unconfirmed media reports of stepped up military activities in the border region. Burundi accused Tanzania of harbouring Hutu rebels while Dar es Salaam countered Bujumbura was drawing up plans for cross-border military strikes on refugee camps. Nyerere, who received the full backing of the OAU, offered to stand aside if it would help the peace process, but told Tanzanian radio his place would have to be taken by regional countries and the international community. Regional analysts say it is not clear what, if any, his role in the new talks would be. Mkapa's new diplomatic initiative came at the same time as the arrival in the region of U.S. special envoy Howard Wolpe who held talks in Bujumbura on Saturday aimed at trying to relaunch the peace process. Meanwhile in other attempts to calm the situation, Tanzanian Vice-President Dr Omar Ali Juma told a large rally in Morogoro the country would not "foolishly go to war, especially in resolving Burundi's crisis", according to Radio Tanzania. The radio also said that Mkapa had ordered a round-up of Burundian and Congolese refugees living outside designated camps. Mkapa was reported as blaming the refugees for banditry in the area and said the round-up would help repatriation efforts.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Yasushi Akashi visited both displaced and regroupment camps in Burundi last week. In talks with Buyoya and other high-ranking officials, Akashi -- the highest ranking UN official to visit the country since the coup -- received fresh assurances of the government's commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

A UN humanitarian report said that in a joint mission to Bubanza on August 18, WFP, CRS and UNHCR found that several expanded sites had been created around the town. It said five sites within 12 kilometres of the town housed approximately 15,2000 newly-displaced people, as compared to only two -- Mugongo 111 and Ciya -- with a combined population of only 13,000 which had existed a week earlier.

DRC - Protests against UN enquiry

About 5,000 people took to the streets of Kinshasa on Saturday to protest the UN Secretary-General's enquiry into alleged massacres of Rwandan refugees in the east of the country, AFP reported. The demonstrators accused the mission and its president -- Togo's Koffi Amega -- of a lack of neutrality. Mohamed Sahnoun has been sent to the DRC to discuss new conditions for the mission set out by President Laurent-Desire Kabila. His arrival is believed to be imminent, but could be delayed by an upsurge of fighting in Congo-Brazzaville, regional sources say. In a letter received from Kinshasa last Wednesday, the DRC demanded the investigation team stop its work until it is joined by an OAU mission. The French radio RFI also reported the letter called for the removal of Ameda because, according to the radio report, the Togolese government had good relations with the former Zairean president Mobuto Sese Seko. Kinshasa has also been reported as saying it cannot guarantee security in eastern DRC and has accused the investigating team of meeting opposition leaders. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the new conditions were "inconsistent" with the understanding reached between the Secretary-General and Kabila on the mission's terms of reference. AFP reported the current UN Security Council President Sir John Weston as saying that "in the light of the somewhat confusing signals that have emerged, we will have to see what Mr Sahnoun comes back with".

DRC - Rights group concerned over arrests

A coalition of human rights groups expressed concern over the "wave of arrests" of former top officials of the Zairean regime, currently numbering 37, who it said were being held in "deplorable and inhumane" conditions. In a separate statement last week the main DRC human rights organisation -- Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO) -- criticised the "deteriorating" human rights situation in the country which it said was characterised by "growing terror". It also reported one student was killed and 15 others injured when troops opened fire on a student demonstration in Kinshasa last Tuesday.

DRC - New rebel movement

A new Great Lakes rebel movement called "Alliance pour La Resistance democratique" (Democratic Resistance Alliance) has reportedly been formed in Tanzania with its political headquarters in Dar es Salaam and military headquarters in Kigoma. The movement groups opposition forces from the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, according to the DRC paper 'La Reference Plus'. Local sources in Goma say it is largely made up of Simba and Bembe peoples. Celestin Anzaluni Bembe, one of its leaders, is a politician from the Fizi area and was the 'first vice-president" in Mobutu's last government and allegedly is well-known for his anti-Tutsi sentiments. Another leader is reportedly Leonard Nyangoma, head of Burundi's rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD).

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE - Lissouba resumes air raids

Forces loyal to Congolese President Pascal Lissouba on Monday resumed air raids against his main foe's militia in the capital Brazzaville, AFP reported an independent source reached from Kinshasa as saying. For the second time inside a week, Russian-built MI-24 helicopters fired rockets against parts of northern Brazzaville held by the "Cobra" militiamen of ex-military ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso. The fighting followed the expiry of Lissouba's original presidential mandate on Sunday. The source contacted by AFP said two helicopters went into action early Monday, following heavy artillery fire which was heard overnight in Kinshasa, across the Congo River from Brazzaville, and continued into the morning.

Sassou Nguesso's United Democratic Forces (FDU) called in a radio broadcast for "an extension of resistance against tyranny" after the retired general dismissed an extension of Lissouba's mandate as illegal. A military source close to Sassou Nguesso said that last week's air raids -- the first since hostilities broke out on June 5 -- caused serious material damage in the eastern Mpila region and around the Nabemba headquarters of oil company Elf-Congo, but led to little loss of life.

The fighting erupted despite an agreement reached over the weekend by 39 parties, associations and political groups on a power-sharing accord and amid growing concern the conflict could spill over into the DRC. AFP reported the parties, backing Lissouba, signed the deal, but the FDU did not. Last week, DRC state television warned the Brazzaville civil war "could very well spread to Kinshasa" after five shells landed in the DRC capital within minutes of each other. The report, monitored by the BBC, said no-one died in the incident, but said there were some injuries. "It would seem it is being done to provoke a reaction from the DRC," the television report stated.

RWANDA - UN report condemns extra-judicial slayings

The United Nations has condemned the killing of 109 prisoners in the past 18 months as "extra-judicial executions", AFP reported a UN human rights mission to the country as saying. According to the report, obtained by the French news agency, 109 people were killed in 62 different incidents. The UN mission accused Tutis-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Army of responsibility for 79 of the deaths, and attributed the rest to local and national police or prison guards. AFP also reported that the first-ever Bar Association had been created in the country to help reconciliation by allowing those accused of genocide to be defended in court. At a ceremony in the National Assembly building, 44 advocates elected a nine-person council for the association and a chairman, Frederic Mutagwera. Meanwhile, the Rwandan government has played down suggestions that it received US military aid during an offensive in neighbouring Zaire to oust the regime of President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Claude Dusaidi, adviser to Rwandan vice-president and defence minister Paul Kagame, said he was unaware of a Pentagon report on US military aid to his regime and therefore did not want to comment. The French daily Le Monde claimed last week US military experts provided the Rwandan army with guerrilla and counter-insurgency training. The report was allegedly based on a Pentagon document obtained by the newspaper. The report for the US Congress details such aid going back to 1993, but offered no evidence of a link between such military aid and the rebels led by Laurent Kabila.

SUDAN - Mandela reports progress

South African President Nelson Mandela said progress was made in weekend talks he hosted in South Africa between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on normalising relations. "I am happy to say we have made some progress in these discussions," Reuters reported Mandela as telling reporters after Sunday's talks. AFP reported Sudan's Minister for Federal Affairs, Ali Mohamed Al-Hagg, as saying his country wanted peaceful relations with its neighbours to be able to concentrate on economic development. "We want peace with everybody. Our priority is the reconstruction of the country," AFP quoted the minister as saying.

SUDAN - Garang says war goes on

Sudan's rebel leader John Garang also held talks with Mandela, but declined to stay on and meet the Sudanese president. Instead, he vowed his army would continue its war against the Sudanese army. "We are preparing ourselves to defend our gains as well as to extend them," Reuters reported Garang as telling a news conference before leaving South Africa last Friday. Meanwhile, Garang's rebel movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said on Friday it had seized control of three districts in the Nuba mountains. A report by AFP from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said Garang's rebel had taken Krakaria, Andolo and El Rujeci.

ANGOLA - UNITA says it will comply with UN demands

Angola's former rebel movement UNITA said it would fulfil U.N. Security Council demands to avert new sanctions, but Reuters reported officials close to the peace process saying they doubted UNITA's will to comply. "What can we do? We have no choice but to comply with the Security Council's wishes," General Horacio Junjuvili, UNITA's assistant representative in the peace process, was quoted as saying. The Security Council announced a package of sanctions due to come into effect on September 30 unless Secretary-General Kofi Annan is able to confirm UNITA has taken "concrete and irreversible steps" to fulfil its obligations. Angolan government radio, monitored by the BBC, said Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos his government was still committed to the peace process and reiterated the door "was still open for dialogue with UNITA".

Nairobi, 1 September 1997, 15:55 GMT


[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, 1 Sep 1997 19:03:41 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-up 19-97 26 Aug - 1 Sep 97 97.9.1 Message-ID: <>

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

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