Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 342 for 28 Jan 98.1.28

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 342 for 28 Jan 98.1.28

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Update No. 342 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 28 January 1998)

BURUNDI: Defence minister killed in helicopter crash

The Burundi authorities have confirmed the death of Defence Minister Firmin Sinzoyiheba in a helicopter crash today (Wednesday). Three other people were also reported killed. The crash reportedly occurred in bad weather as the minister was returning to Bujumbura from a reconciliation meeting in Gitega between various parties in the Burundi conflict. The helicopter went down in the Gihinga mountains in Muramvya province. Burundi leaders are due to hold an emergency meeting later today.

The three-day reconciliation conference in Gitega was due to bring together various political players in Burundi, the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) reported. President Pierre Buyoya was to open the meeting to be attended by the government, army, national assembly, trade unions and representatives of political parties. Regional observers, however, said little real progress was expected from the meeting.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 21 people executed in Kinshasa

Twenty-one people accused of murder and armed robbery were executed by firing squad at the Tshatshi military camp in Kinshasa yesterday, DRC radio reported today. It said the victims were both civilians and soldiers whose appeals were rejected by President Laurent-Desire Kabila. News reports pointed out these were the first mass executions in the capital since Kabila took power. In a statement, the military tribunal which issued the sentences said the executions should be seen "as a solemn warning to any potential delinquent..."

Kabila blames Mai-Mai for Kivu insecurity

Kabila met local leaders in Bukavu on Monday during which they discussed the security situation in South Kivu. DRC radio broadcasting from Bukavu reported Kabila as saying tension in the area had been exacerbated by the "Mai-Mai phenomenon". He described the Mai-Mai as a "rebel movement against the established power".

Meningitis outbreak in Tembo

Forty people died of meningitis between 16 and 19 January in the Tembo mining area of DRC's Bandundu province, according to the World Health Organisation. A total of 87 cases were registered in that period. WHO pointed out that since the beginning of January, some 9,000 Congolese diamond miners and their families returned to the area from the Angolan province of Lunda Norte after being expelled by the Angolan army and UNITA. Spanish nuns working in the region have reported the outbreak of a mysterious viral disease which has killed dozens of miners in Tembo.

KENYA: Rift Valley violence escalates

The Kenyan government has issued a statement condemning "acts of lawlessness and irresponsibility" in Rift Valley province where over 70 people have been killed in ethnic clashes. Police announced that the death toll in the Njoro-Molo area had risen to 22, while in nearby Laikipia 55 bodies had so far been recovered. According to the government statement, security forces had been despatched to the affected areas and the situation in Njoro, Molo and Elementeita districts was under control. Seventeen suspects had been arrested and one was shot dead while resisting arrest. KTN television said the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) however, criticised "laxity" in containing the clashes.

Agriculture Minister warns of massive food shortfall

Agriculture Minister Musalia Mudavadi said yesterday adverse weather conditions meant Kenya would register a shortfall of seven million bags (630,000 mt) of maize. A further 3.3 million bags (297,000 mt) of beans and one million bags (90,000 mt)of wheat would be lost. Over 300,000 families countrywide had been affected by the floods which washed away their homes and destroyed their crops. The minister added there had been an abnormally high incidence of livestock diseases as a result of the weather. Australia announced it would donate $Aus seven million to WFP for relief operations in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. One million dollars will be used for Kenya, according to an Australian press release.

RWANDA: Zimbabwe to train security forces

Zimbabwe is to help train the Rwandan security forces, including the army and police, in accordance with a protocol signed between the two countries yesterday, AFP reported. Rwandan Minister of State for Defence Emmanuel Habyarimana, who is on a visit to Harare, said Zimbabwe would be seen as a pioneer in the process to restore peace and stability to Rwanda. Zimbabwe's Defence Minister Moven Mahachi said his country was assisting Rwanda because it wanted to see peace prevail there and in the region.

New airline starts operating in March

Rwanda's new airline, Alliance Express, will start operating from 1 March, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The airline - a merger between the national carrier Air Rwanda and a regional carrier Alliance Air - will link Kigali with major regional cities, notably Entebbe, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg.

ANGOLA: MONUA mandate to be extended

The UN Security Council yesterday voted to extend the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Angola by three months. The 2,000-strong observer mission, MONUA, was due to withdraw at the end of this month. Yesterday's resolution provides for retaining up to 1,045 troops within the mission. In a report to the Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan had described the situation in Angola as "precarious". The resolution called on the Angolan government and "in particular" the former rebel movement UNITA to comply with the provisions of a 1994 peace accord.

ZAMBIA: Minister denies UNITA operating from Zambia

Zambia today denied reports that UNITA forces have military bases in the country, PANA news agency reported. Foreign Minister Keli Walubita described the allegations as "baseless", saying they were disseminated by people "bent on destroying" the friendly relations between Zambia and Angola. Zambia, he added, was committed to the Angolan peace process.

Burundian refugees arrive

Forty-four Burundian refugees have arrived in Zambia's Mwinilunga area, according to Zambian state radio. It quoted local sources as saying more were expected by the end of the week. The refugees are being screened by government authorities. One refugee said he had travelled through DRC and Angola into Zambia.

EAST AFRICA: Ministers to seek foreign help

Ministers from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya will travel to Asia, Europe and the USA next week to seek aid and investment to rebuild the region's road network, Reuters reported. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete told a news conference in Nairobi today the trip, under the umbrella of the East African Cooperation forum, would take in Japan, Belgium, the USA and Britain. Kikwete said repairing the regional road network was a priority for the three nations.

Ogata to visit

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata will travel to Africa on 5 February where she will visit nine countries and meet African leaders. UNHCR said the main focus of the trip would be the Great Lakes region, and would include refugee and reintegration issues. The countries to be visited are Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Congo-Brazzaville and Ethiopia.

Nairobi, 28 January 1998, 14:40 gmt


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Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 17:41:45 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 342 for 28 Jan 98.1.28 Message-ID: <>

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

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