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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 20-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region, covering the period 29 Aug-4 September 1997
[Please note IRIN's weekly round-ups will now be issued every Friday, covering the preceding week. Daily updates will be issued Monday to Friday.]
BURUNDI: Regional summit decides to keep sanctions
Regional leaders, who met in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Burundi, decided to maintain economic sanctions against the country and rejected the offer of mediator Julius Nyerere to stand down. Burundi had accused Nyerere of a lack of neutrality and bias against the government. Nyerere offered to stand aside if it would help the peace process, but said his place would have to be taken by regional countries and the international community. Burundian head of state Pierre Buyoya was not invited to the Dar es Salaam meeting which grouped the leaders of Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia. Joint OAU-UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes region Mohamed Sahnoun and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim were also present. Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi boycotted the meeting, accusing regional countries of demanding tough measures against Burundi which they then failed to enforce.
The Burundi government meanwhile proposed holding peace talks on September 29 but stressed they should not take place in Tanzania. All-party talks, under the mediation of Nyerere, collapsed last month after the Burundi authorities declined to attend the meeting in Arusha.
The collapse of the fragile peace process in Burundi coincided with increased tension on its border with Tanzania. Burundi maintains Tanzania is harbouring Hutu rebels, while Tanzania counters that Bujumbura is planning to stage cross-border military strikes on refugee camps. On Monday, Burundian Energy and Mines Minister Bernard Barandereka claimed Tanzania was trying to "annex" Burundi by allowing Burundian rebels to maintain bases on its territory.
DRC: Question mark still hangs over UN rights probe
The stop-start nature of the UN human rights investigation continued as the DRC authorities wavered on whether to allow it to proceed. After over a week of wrangling the mission was finally given the go-ahead on Tuesday, only to be held up by non-delivery of the formal letter of approval from President Laurent-Desire Kabila. A UN spokesman on Wednesday said this was due to "coordination problems at the government's end".
Earlier in the week, DRC Justice Minister Celestin Luangi had repeated the government's concerns over the investigation into alleged refugee massacres. He accused the UN mission of "deviating" from its assigned task and prior agreements, saying this represented a "violation of national sovereignty and interference in internal affairs." The minister claimed the team had arrived in DRC without prior warning and that it was made up of 27 people instead of the agreed 12. He also said there were six security officers in the mission, although it had been understood there should be no security people.
UNHCR announced it was planning the further repatriation of DRC refugees from Tanzania, following the successful return of 573 people by boat from Kigoma to Uvira on Wednesday. Another 600 refugees are expected to be repatriated on Saturday, and after that up to 1,200 people would be returned per week. According to a UNHCR spokesman, the figure could rise to between 4,000-5,000 after a second ferry has been repaired.
There were signs of growing unrest in eastern DRC after humanitarian sources reported that rebel groups had taken over the town of Bunyakiri, about 80 km north of Bukavu. The town had reportedly been abandoned by troops from the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) and was believed to have been taken at the end of last week. Aid workers also described the situation around Goma as very tense.
RWANDA: First woman genocide suspect appears before ICTR
A former Rwandan government minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, became the first woman to appear before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. Nyiramasuhuko, minister of family affairs and gender promotion in an interim government after the death of former president Juvenal Habyarimana, pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Her son, Arsene Shalome Ntahobari, who also appeared on the same charges, declined to plead because his assigned counsel was not present.
In Rwanda itself, the prosecutor of Kigali's military court requested 15-year prison terms for four army officers accused of massacring some 100 civilians in Gisenyi prefecture two years ago, AFP reported. The four were said to have killed between 80 and 110 people in Kanama after Hutu rebels killed an RPA officer.
SUDAN: Opposition claims gains
Sudan's opposition claimed its fighters had captured a garrison near the border with Eritrea and were advancing along the strategic Port Sudan road, AFP reported on Tuesday. In a statement distributed in Asmara, the National Democratic Alliance said the "area, village and strategic garrison of Ardawit" had been "liberated". Meanwhile, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba offered to mediate in the 14-year old Sudan conflict, adding his voice to that of South African President Nelson Mandela who hosted face-to-face talks last weekend between Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Pretoria. Leader of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) John Garang also met Mandela in Pretoria but refused to see Bashir, vowing instead to continue the war. Last Friday, the SPLA claimed it had seized control of three districts in the Nuba mountains, according to AFP.
Displaced people are dying from disease in southeast Sudan, according to Sudanese newspaper reports this week, quoted by AFP. In Blue Nile state, Kurmuk provincial commissioner Abdallah Awad al-Tayeb said many people displaced by fighting in January had died in camps in Kurmuk and other parts of the state. He blamed polluted water and dehydration for the deaths. The commissioner added that a committee had been set up to establish the death toll.
ANGOLA: Savimbi accused of plotting to kill officials
An Angolan television report on Wednesday accused former rebel leader Jonas Savimbi of plotting to kill prominent Angolan political leaders, including government officials and army officers. However, an official of Savimbi's ex-rebel movement UNITA described the claims as "stupid and totally without foundation". The UN Security Council is to impose sanctions against UNITA, saying it has not fulfilled its obligations under the 1994 Lusaka peace protocol which formally ended Angola's civil war. The sanctions are due to go into effect on 30 September, but UNITA has said it will comply with the Security Council's demands.
CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): Peace talks resume
Peace talks resumed in Libreville, Gabon, on Monday between the warring sides representing President Pascal Lissouba and his rival Denis Sassou Nguesso. Renewed fighting broke out ahead of the latest round of talks. Mohamed Sahnoun, joint UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, later described the talks as "encouraging". Meanwhile, the Congo (Brazzaville) government closed the main remaining river ports for traffic from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, apparently for security reasons. Two other ports, in northern parts of Brazzaville controlled by Sassou Nguesso's militia, have already been partially shut.
Nairobi, 5 September 1997, 11:00 GMT
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Date: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 14:02:47 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 20-97 29 Aug-4 Sep 1997 97.9.5 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970905140105.15330Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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