IRIN Update No. 398 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 17 April 1998)

IRIN Update No. 398 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 17 April 1998)

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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IRIN Update No. 398 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 17 April 1998)

RWANDA: Kagame urges ex-FAR soldiers to help rebuild Rwanda

Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame has urged soldiers of the former Forces armees rwandaises (FAR) to join in the country's reconstruction, AFP reported. Speaking at the end of a training course to re-educate former fighters, he said that while they would not all join the Rwandan army, there were other ways to help rebuild Rwanda. AFP noted that the Rwandan Patriotic Army is currently downsizing, and only a few ex-FAR with special skills would be integrated. "There is the camp of those who kill women and children, and the camp of those who want to rebuild Rwanda," Kagame said.

Army reportedly kills 70 rebels

The Rwandan army has killed 70 rebels during a raid in central Gitarama prefecture, AFP said quoting a statement from the Rwandan Information Office today (Friday). The rebel raid occurred in Bulinga commune on Wednesday, and the army acted "jointly with the population", according to the report. A significant amount of weapons were reportedly seized. AFP cited Kagame as saying yesterday the authorities had information some 16,000 ex-FAR soldiers were in the Central African Republic and Congo-Brazzaville.

Rutaganda trial suspended

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has suspended the trial of genocide suspect Georges Rutaganda, deputy leader of the Interahamwe militia, because of the defendant's state of health. The Swiss NGO Fondation Hirondelle quoted ICTR president Judge Laity Kama who said the tribunal's doctor had pronounced Rutaganda "seriously ill". A decision will be taken on 24 April to decide whether to proceed with the trial, or postpone it.

ICTR audit hails improvements

An audit report on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has found "substantial changes" in the tribunal's operations since last year. The report, issued this February by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), states "improvements were observed in virtually every area surveyed by the team of investigators and auditors". It added that in the past six months, new officials at the tribunal had also "effected major improvements" in its operations. The changes come in the wake of a previous audit report, issued in February 1997, which found that "not a single area" of the tribunal's registry functioned effectively. Although the registry was now functioning better, several areas still required attention, the latest report said. The Tribunal itself pointed out that any assessment of its activities must take into account the "infrastructural limitations of the environment in which it operates".

Malnutrition-related deaths reported in the south

According to the latest WFP emergency report, the food supply situation in southern Rwanda, particularly Butare and Gikongoro, appears to be deteriorating with reports of malnutrition-related deaths among the adult population. The authorities have also reported that children are abandoning schools as a result of food shortages. WFP is to assess the situation.

BURUNDI: More on reported divisions within CNDD

More light has been shed on reported divisions within the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD). A document, received by IRIN, announced the formation of a joint CNDD-FDD political-military organisation. The document, signed among others by "chief-of-staff" Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, noted divisions among CNDD and FDD members, accusing some of "self-interest and sectarianism", and accusing the top leadership in CNDD of an "almost total lack of authority". However, a later document signed by CNDD president Leonard Nyangoma, already reported by IRIN (Update 393), said he was due to meet FDD leaders to "find solutions to pressing problems".

Buyoya to announce interim institutions

President Pierre Buyoya is to announce institutional reforms for a transition period, Azania news agency reported today. It said that according to high-ranking officials, the new institutions will comprise one president, two vice-presidents, a reduced government and an expanded parliament. This will be the first phase. The second phase, the officials said, will be global negotiations with Burundians outside the country "including those who have taken up arms". Azania said the reforms should be announced before the end of the current national assembly's term in June. Jean Minani, the exiled chairman of the opposition Frodebu party, said the party would not accept new interim institutions. He told the BBC's Kirundi service yesterday any member of Frodebu who joined the interim government would be expelled from the party.

Press overhaul planned

The authorities are also planning an overhaul of the private and state press to combat "disorder and inertia" in the media, Azania reported. The communication Minister told journalists yesterday the national communication council would have new functions. Azania said many private media individuals were afraid the new measures would constitute "filters" aimed at "hunting down undesirables", as the minister suggested there may be re-registration procedures. The minister's comments follow the closure of the Netpress news agency and the seizure of the opposition newspaper 'L'Aube de la democratie'.

Insecurity prompts shift of food distribution centre

WFP's planned food distribution to some 20,000 recently displaced persons in Isale, Bujumbura Rural, which had to be postponed due to insecurity, has now been changed to a new location, closer to the tarmac road. The distribution will take three days and each beneficiary will receive a seven-day food ration, the agency said in its emergency update.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Two escapees recaptured

Two prominent political detainees who escaped from a high-security jail near Lubumbashi have been recaptured, according to the DRC authorities. Minister of State for Internal Affairs Gaetan Kakudji in a statement read over DRC television yesterday, said Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma and former military commander Masasu Nindaga had been nabbed. He added that 6,000 soldiers had been deployed in southern Katanga to recapture the escapees. The third jailbreaker, opposition politician Joseph Olenghankoy, was still at large. Kakudji described him as an "agent provocateur of those abroad".

KENYA: Official speaks of "inter-tribal war" in northwest

The Coordinator of the Eldoret-based Peace and Rehabilitation Project of the National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK) Peter Gathura told IRIN today the situation in northwest Pokot and Marakwet districts was "more than cattle rustling, worse than the Rift Valley tribal clashes, in fact, this is an all out inter-tribal war." He explained that "in normal rustling cases in the region, crude weapons and ordinary guns are used, but now they are using sophisticated weapons like AK-47 rifles and mortar fire." The Project's fact-finding team together with the police were forced to turn back last Friday by the heavy fighting. This prompted the police to ask for army reinforcements," Gathura added.

Regarding the humanitarian situation, Gathura stated that due to the heavy fighting "we have not been able to move in to assess the situation." The Project however sent out a team yesterday and expects a report tomorrow. Meanwhile the World Vision Coordinator for the Tot area, Kipsang Obadiah - who managed to tour the Kerio Valley and highlands area last Sunday - said people were camped in schools and churches and generally lacked food as no relief organisations had reached them. He said World Vision will begin distributing maize to the clash victims on Monday.

KENYA-UGANDA: Seven die in cross-border shootout

Five Ugandans and two Kenyans were killed on Tuesday when Kenyan security personnel repulsed armed cattle rustlers from Uganda who raided a village in West Pokot district of Kenya's Rift Valley, according to AFP. The security forces recovered herds of cattle stolen by the rustlers. The raid came in the wake of "escalating hostilities" between the Pokot and Marakwet tribes on the Kenyan side of the border where police reinforcements were sent in to quell tribal clashes which had led to 14 deaths in ten days, AFP said. The clashes were sparked by cattle rustling between the two pastoral communities.

UGANDA: Insecurity displaces 12,000 in Bundibugyo

Recent insecurity in western Uganda's Bundibugyo area has resulted in the displacement of close to 12,000 people, according to WFP's latest Emergency Report. Half of this caseload requires WFP food assistance. Meanwhile, previously displaced persons in the area continue to resettle, and to date close to 30,000 displaced people have received WFP return packages.

TANZANIA: Rains still threaten food delivery

The delivery of WFP food commodities to refugee camps in the Kigoma region has improved and full rations are now being distributed in all camps. However, WFP has warned that despite recent improvements in food deliveries, the supply situation remains precarious, with heavy rains falling in Kigoma. Rains and flooding of the Malagarasi river in Kigoma region have left villagers without shelter and destroyed crops. Following a request for food assistance from local authorities, a WFP mission has assessed the situation and a one-month food ration is being released, using stocks from the drought emergency operation.

Nairobi, 17 April 1998, 15:20 gmt


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

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