IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 35 [19990903]

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 35 [19990903]

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 35 covering the period 28 August-3 September 1999


Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) approved the DRC ceasefire agreement in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, on Tuesday under a compromise formula negotiated by Zambia and South Africa by which all 50 founding members of the RCD signed the document, news agencies said. Leaders of the six nations involved in the conflict and the head of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) had already signed the accord.

RCD split threatens Lusaka ceasefire even after signing

Zambian and South African diplomats were on Thursday reported to be involved in "intensive discussions" with RCD leaders in an attempt to have the Lusaka ceasefire implemented in the face of renewed differences between the movement's rival factions. The Lusaka talks mediator, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, held meetings with RCD-Goma and RCD-Kisangani faction leaders still in the Zambian capital, two days after they signed, in an attempt to resolve the new sticking point over who should nominate representatives to the Joint Military Commission (JMC) and the Political Committee, set up to oversee the pact, Reuters reported.

UN advance party to assemble military liaison team in Nairobi

In the wake of the RCD signing, the UN on Thursday dispatched a three-person advance team, due to arrive in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Friday, to pave the way for the deployment of the first phase of military personnel to be dispatched to the region. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations team is expected to assemble within a week the initial group of 26 UN military liaison officers. Four members of the team will support the JMC in Lusaka, while six members will set up an advance UN headquarters in Kinshasa, a UN statement said.

The remaining 16 will be dispatched to regional capitals of the signatories of the ceasefire accord, but initially to Bujumbura, Kigali, Kinshasa, Kampala, Windhoek and Harare. The dispatch of these officers is the first phase of a three-stage plan for UN support of the Lusaka peace accord outlined by Secretary General Kofi Annan in his 15 July report to the Security Council.

Tutsis evacuated from Kinshasa

A total of 360 "persons at risk" were evacuated on Monday and Tuesday from Kinshasa to Benin, from where they will "probably find resettlement in third countries," the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement received by IRIN on Thursday. Some 1,500 ethnic Tutsis have been held under "protective custody" in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi since August 1998.

Suspected haemorrhagic fever in Province Orientale

Samples taken from the Isiro area of Province Orientale have been sent to South Africa to test for the presence of haemorrhagic fever, a WHO official told IRIN on Friday. A WHO team was sent from Kampala to Isiro on Thursday for a one-day investigation after one man in the town was reported to have died of suspected haemorrhagic fever on 29 August. Six other cases of suspected haemorrhagic fever were reported in Durba between 8-22 August, of whom four have died, humanitarian sources told IRIN this week. The laboratory results on the Isiro samples are expected on Monday, the WHO official said.

BURUNDI: Intense fighting reported to have claimed 50 lives

More than 50 people were killed over the weekend during rebel attacks on civilians in two districts and subsequent clashes between rebels and the Burundi army, according to diplomatic and media sources. A diplomatic source in Bujumbura told IRIN on Monday that it was hard to verify the information, especially the number of casualties, since it is "not easy to go to the affected areas" but confirmed "there was hard combat on Saturday and Sunday" and the situation was tense.

Reuters news agency reported that some 58 people had died following the attacks on the districts of Musaga and Mutanga when the rebels attacked minority Tutsi populations, burning their homes and shooting them as they fled. It said 33 civilians, most of them children, had been murdered in the southern district of Musaga while another five were killed in the northern district of Mutanga. Defence Minister Alfred Nkurunziza, quoted by Reuters, said his forces had the better of the fighting in the early hours of Sunday, forcing the rebels to pull out of the capital.

Authorities strengthen civilian self-defence

Meanwhile, military and civilian authorities on Monday "boosted" civil defence forces around Bujumbura. On Thursday, the government extended the nationwide curfew by two hours starting at 10:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 a.m.

Annan condemns "murderous rebel attacks"

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the attacks, his deputy spokesman, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, said on Tuesday. "The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the rebels to end all attacks against civilians and abide by international humanitarian and human rights norms", De Almeida e Silva said.

Burundi asks South Africa to play "an active role" in peace process

President Pierre Buyoya has requested South Africa to play "an active role" in ending the Burundi conflict and said he would like to see South Africa facilitating talks between his government and rebel movements, news organisations reported on Monday. "South Africa's experience in achieving a negotiated solution to its own problems could be beneficially applied in Burundi," the 'Business Day' newspaper quoted Buyoya as saying at the weekend at a meeting with his South African counterpart, Thabo Mbeki.

Arusha peace talks postponed

Peace talks in Arusha, the next round of which was scheduled for 6 September, were reportedly postponed by a week to give all parties more time for "extensive and intensive consultations", AFP news agency on Monday quoted Hashim Mbita, an aide to talks coordinator and former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, as saying. Other agencies cited the ill health of Nyerere who travelled to Britain this week for treatment. It said he had also cancelled a meeting with Buyoya that was planned for Sunday, citing health reasons.

RWANDA: Inquiry team arrives to examine UN role during genocide

An independent inquiry commission to examine the UN's role and actions in Rwanda before and after the 1994 genocide arrived in Kigali on Wednesday on a fact-finding mission, humanitarian sources in the Rwandan capital told IRIN on Thursday. The commission, led by former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlson was set up in May by the UN Security Council at the suggestion of Annan and is to deliver a report by the end of the year.

Kigali twinned with South Kivu

The eastern DRC province of South Kivu has been twinned with Kigali Prefecture in what has been described by both signing parties as a measure to improve cooperation, but reported by Congolese television as an annexation of the province by Rwanda. The twinning protocol was signed in Kigali last week by the governor of South Kivu and the prefect of Kigali to facilitate exchange on economic and commercial matters; transport and communication; socio-cultural issues; agriculture, livestock, fisheries, conservation and tourism; town planning; and political and security concerns, rebel-controlled Radio Bukavu reported.

ICTR finalises deal for Benin to jail genocide convicts

The Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has finalised and signed an agreement with Benin for it to provide prison facilities for people convicted of crimes relating to the 1994 genocide, making Benin the second country after Mali to accept Rwandan genocide convicts.

Affected people greatly concentrated in northwest

A report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has set the number of "affected people" requiring humanitarian assistance in Rwanda at 673,003 - a figure that includes over half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in addition to 33,711 refugees, 6,569 unaccompanied children and 124,198 detainees. The vast majority of IDPs, numbering 365,414, were in Ruhengeri while 143,111 were in Gisenyi, the report said. Some 17,000 refugees at Byumba and 14,500 at Kibuye accounted for most of their number, with much smaller pockets in Kigali, Gikongoro and Cyangugu.

KENYA: Police arrest 600 in security raids focused on illegal aliens

More than 600 people were arrested in Nairobi on Wednesday night, including a good number of Somalis and Ethiopians, in a police crackdown on illegal aliens, the possession of firearms and communications equipment, a police spokesman told IRIN on Friday. "We are sorting them out now" he added, referring to the different nationalities of illegal aliens found during armed raids on crime-prone areas of Nairobi.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Council wants election timetable respected

The UN Security Council on Tuesday encouraged the CAR authorities and opposition leaders to ensure that the country's presidential elections are held as scheduled. In a press statement, the Council's president said members noted the progress made in preparing for the elections, scheduled for 12 September. A second round of voting is slated for 3 October. The members "stressed that the full implementation of the Bangui Agreements is the only viable option for obtaining peace and security" in the country.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: New peace bid

Eight former members of the ousted government of Pascal Lissouba presented President Denis Sassou-Nguesso with proposals for a five-year transition period under Nguesso's leadership, BBC reported on Wednesday. The transition plan, leading to the introduction of multi-party democracy, called for a meeting between the army and rebel forces to agree on a ceasefire. BBC quoted former finance minister Luc Adamou Mateta as saying Nguesso had promised to study the proposals.

Large displacement in "forgotten war"

Meanwhile, nearly 175,000 displaced people and refugees have moved to Brazzaville since May, the Office of the Regional Humanitarian Advisor for the Great Lakes in Nairobi said in its latest "Affected Populations" report. The figure includes Brazzaville residents who had been displaced to the Pool region at the outset of fighting last year, inhabitants of Pool who are now seeking refugee in the capital, and returnees from the DRC, the report said. There were now an estimated 331,625 people displaced by what the report called a "forgotten war", adding that the health and nutritional status of people coming from Pool was "notably poor."

SUDAN: IMF lifts declaration of non-cooperation

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 27 August lifted its 1990 declaration of non-cooperation with Sudan citing the country's commitment since February 1997 to a "schedule of payments" to the organisation and its progress in "implementing macroeconomic and structural policies." An IMF statement said the board also decided that it could consider lifting the suspension of Sudan's voting and related rights.

Sudanese opposition backs Egyptian-Libyan initiative

The Sudanese opposition has reportedly declared its adherence to the Egyptian-Libyan initiative to solve the crisis in Sudan, the Egyptian news agency MENA said on Wednesday. It said that during a meeting of opposition leaders Sadiq al-Mahdi of the Ummah Party and John Garang of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Cairo on Wednesday, they had stressed that a "political solution" was one of the options for the Sudanese opposition to resolve the current crisis in Sudan. The SPLM had on Monday rejected the Egyptian-Libyan initiative in favour of the IGAD peace process. In a statement received by IRIN, it described the IGAD effort as the "only viable process that should continue."

ETHIOPIA: Efforts continue to implement OAU peace deal

Two top American officials, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice and Great Lakes envoy Anthony Lake, met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim in Addis Ababa this week for talks on how to bring about implementation of the OAU peace plan and end fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea. "The discussion focused on assurances that the implementation process ... will be fair and transparent", a statement from the US embassy in Addis Ababa quoted by AFP stated. Lake worked with OAU and UN experts to finalise the technical details that complement two other documents: the Framework Agreement for peace, and modalities for its implementation, that altogether comprise the OAU peace plan.

Civilian plane shot down in 'no-fly zone'

The Ethiopian government on Wednesday confirmed that it shot down a civilian jet on Sunday near the border with Eritrea close to the northern town of Adwa "after it had entered a no-fly zone" designated by the Ethiopian aviation authority. The Swedish and British pilots aboard were killed.

SOMALIA: Kenya ban suspended for humanitarian flights

Humanitarian flights from Kenya to Somalia have been cleared for a two-week period while discussion between the government and the flight providers - the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the UN Coordinated Air Service and the ICRC - continue on an agreed mechanism for their regularisation over a longer period. The Kenyan government, keen to stem arms flows from Somalia, announced the closure of its borders on 22 August and the extension of that to all flights, including humanitarian, on 25 August. Humanitarian sources who spoke to IRIN on Friday remained confident that a mechanism would soon be agreed for the flight approval of up to three months.

Nairobi, 3 September 1999


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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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