IRIN Update 397 for 16 April 98.4.16

IRIN Update 397 for 16 April 98.4.16

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. 397 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 16 April 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Hate radio heard again in Bukavu

An inflammatory anti-Tutsi radio station, Voix du Patriote, has again been heard broadcasting in the Bukavu region. Muller Ruhimbika, secretary-general of the Banyamulenge NGO Groupe Milima, told IRIN today (Thursday) the radio, which was last heard in December, had resumed broadcasts last week. Earlier this year, the vice-governor of South Kivu, Benjamin Serukiza, told IRIN a clandestine anti-Tutsi group, the Front de liberation contre l'occupation tutsie (FLOT) and its "political wing" the Union des forces vives pour la liberation et la democratie (UFLD), were behind the broadcasts which call on Tutsis to "go home" and urges Bantus to "rise as one to combat the Tutsis". In its Swahili broadcasts, the radio referred to the "Tutsi killers" whose goal is to "finish the Zaireans and the Hutus".

In its early days it was believed to be broadcasting from the nearby Kahuzi Biega national park, but Ruhimbika said although it could not be ascertained where the latest broadcasts were coming from, it was thought the radio may be operating from Bukavu town itself. [For more on hate radio in the Great Lakes region, see IRIN special report on hate media of 26 February 1998].

Warning of worsening Banyamulenge situation

On the situation in the Kivus, Ruhimbika said the attitude in DRC towards the Banyamulenge was "returning to the previous situation", when they were ostracised and regarded as outsiders and which led to the 1996 war to oust president Mobutu Sese Seko. However he stressed that for the Banyamulenge, the old problem of nationality was now less of an issue than that of security, saying it was irrelevant whether the Banyamulenge be granted Congolese nationality under the new constitution. He acknowledged the continued hostility of ex-FAZ soldiers, reintegrated into the Congolese army, towards the Banyamulenge.

Bukavu to get national radio, TV

The acting managing director of Radio Television Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) yesterday (Wednesday) toured the Bukavu region accompanied by a delegation of technicians to rehabilitate television transmitters in the area. "This will enable the provincial station to receive national television programmes in a good condition," DRC television reported. The initiative is part of the government's plan to link all provincial stations to national radio and television, it added.

Lawyers' group questions Buluwo jailbreak

A group of DRC lawyers has questioned the reported jailbreak by three prominent detainees near Lubumbashi, according to AFP. Deputy Interior Minister Faustin Munene on Tuesday confirmed that former military commander Masasu Nindaga and leading opposition politicians Joseph Olenghankoy and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma had escaped from a high-security prison in Buluwo. The 'Black Togas' lawyers' association said it had "serious reservations over the veracity of the information" and demanded further explanations to "quash rumours and speculation". The whereabouts of the three escapees are so far unknown.

UN investigative team to be pulled out

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to withdraw the UN team investigating alleged human rights abuses in DRC. The decision follows the seizure of documents from a Canandian team member raising fears that witnesses could be harassed. The team has been beset with problems regarding its relations with the Congolese authorities.

AFRICA: UN Secretary-General appeals for "political will"

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recommends publicly identifying and monitoring private arms merchants, reducing African defence budgets and better enforcement of arms embargoes as measures to reduce African conflicts. In a wide-ranging report on Africa, presented to the Security Council today, Annan argues that "the failure of the international community, including the United Nations, to intervene to prevent genocide in Rwanda" has left a "poisonous legacy that continues to undermine confidence in the Organization". In preventing conflict, Annan continues, the "critical concern is no longer lack of early warning, but rather the need to follow up early warning with early and effective action."

Despite lamenting the international "paralysis" that followed withdrawal of peacekeepers from Somalia, the UN Security Council's decision to authorize a peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic (CAR) "sends a positive and important signal", the report continues. However, Annan calls for the UN Security Council to act on "a more predictable basis" when considering peacekeeping operations. In the economic field, Annan calls for "peace-friendly" structural adjustment programmes and cancellation of official bilateral debt of the poorest African countries. Overall, Annan urges Africans and non-Africans to "summon the political will when action is so evidently needed".

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Executive Outcomes denies military presence

The South African mercenary firm Executive Outcomes has denied as "a wild accusation" claims by Congo-Brazzaville's self-declared government-in-exile that it is supporting the forces of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Executive Outcomes spokesman Ricko Visser told IRIN today that the company "stayed out" of Congo-Brazzaville at the request of Angola. He said "Angola asked us not to get involved" and the company obliged because of its "very good cooperation" with the Luanda authorities. A statement received today by IRIN from the "Representative of the Constitutional Government of Congo at the European Community", alleged a "massive concentration" of mercenaries in the country are backing Sassou Nguesso. In addition to Executive Outcomes, these forces allegedly include "Rwandans, [ex-] FAZ, Gabonese, Chadians, Moroccans, Central Africans and also Libyans".

Visser also claimed that during the civil war in DRC, Executive Outcomes' services were requested in the former Zaire by both the government of Mobutu Sese Seko and the forces of Laurent-Desire Kabila. The company declined both offers, again at the behest of Angola, which was already involved in the civil war. Visser acknowledged that some Executive Outcomes personnel in Sierra Leone "resigned to pursue their own careers" in Zaire on Mobutu's side, but "with disastrous results."

UN report warns of "potential renewed crisis"

A recent report by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator has warned that the humanitarian "grace period" following the end of Congo-Brazzaville's civil war may be approaching its end, "setting the stage for a potential renewed crisis." According to the report, in spite of some progress towards recovery, "without significant positive changes in the economic situation, it will be difficult for the population ... to maintain basic living standards for much longer." Although the security situation in Brazzaville has "improved tremendously", that is not the case in the north of the country. Young Cobra militiamen "do not identify" with Sassou Nguesso's generation. Neither do they want to relinquish their ammunition "which is a source of revenue, and gives them a sense of power", the report adds.

BURUNDI: Talks with Tanzania, Uganda on sanctions underway

Burundi's Human Rights Minister Eugene Nindorera has accused Tanzania and Uganda of being behind the continued regional economic sanctions against his country. Burundi radio said the minister yesterday again appealed for lifting the embargo. "We are negotiating with these countries in an effort to achieve a better understanding of the stance they have adopted and to try to find a way of getting the sanctions lifted," he said. The minister reiterated that Burundi had fulfilled all the conditions laid down for lifting the embargo. "As far as I am concerned, the ball is in the mediator's [former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere] court," he said. On Tuesday, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) reiterated a call for lifting sanctions, saying Burundi had met the conditions and pointing out an embargo-free Burundi was necessary to ensure free trade in the region.

ANGOLA: Angolan official concerned about Cabinda

An Angolan official has described the situation in the Cabinda enclave as worrying, following a wave of attacks, armed operations and abductions by Cabinda separatists. During a recent visit to Cabinda, Angolan Deputy Minister for Territorial Administration Miguel N'zau Puna said dialogue was a priority to help settle the issue. He called for an end to "negative behaviour" in the enclave, accusing the rebel Frente de Libertacao do Enclava de Cabinda (FLEC), of kidnapping Angolan and foreign nationals.

RWANDA: Heavy rains kill two, damage property

Heavy rain killed two people in Nyakinama Commune in northern Ruhengeri Prefecture yesterday. Extensive property damage was also reported, according to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA). Local officials said torrential rain in the Virunga mountains range had caused two rivers to burst their banks, causing immense destruction of houses and farmlands. Eighty-two families have been made homeless.

SUDAN: Peace talks to resume on April 30th

Peace negotiations between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) will resume in Nairobi on April 30, Ali al-Haj Mohammed, deputy Secretary General of the Sudanese National Congress said yesterday. According to AFP, Mohammed told a news conference that the Kenyan government had informed Khartoum about the exact date for the talks. He did not give details on the government delegation that would attend the talks. He however said the country's draft constitution would feature prominently in the talks.

The two warring sides met for the first time in three years in early November in Nairobi under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The talks are aimed at ending 14 years of civil war between the predominantly Christian southern rebels who oppose domination by the Islamic north.

Rebels claim victory near Juba

The SPLA on Saturday claimed it had again repulsed an attack by National Islamic Front (NIF) forces on Kanjilo garrison, rebel radio, monitored by the BBC, reported yesterday. It described the SPLA-controlled garrison as a strategic point on the road to Juba. "The SPLA forces inflicted heavy human and material casualties," the SPLA radio reported. A similar attack by government troops on the garrison was beaten back earlier this month, the radio added.

Nairobi, 16 April 1998, 15:20 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 18:29:57 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 397 for 16 April 98.4.16 Message-ID: <>

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

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