IRIN Update 399 for 18-20 April 98.4.20

IRIN Update 399 for 18-20 April 98.4.20

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. 399 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 20 April 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN Human Rights chief deplores withdrawal of mission

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has called the withdrawal of the UN team investigating alleged human rights abuses in DRC a "grave setback". In a press release issued shortly after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's decision last Thursday, Robinson said the move was the inevitable result of a series of obstacles which have prevented the mission from fulfilling its mandate. "I see this development in the overall context of the international community's commitment to fight impunity which is one of the major factors in the recurrent violence in the Great Lakes Region and elsewhere. The withdrawal is a grave setback in this battle against impunity," Robinson said in the statement. She added that the experience had underscored the need for an International Criminal Court "with the political backing and resources to bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst violations of human rights and international humanitarian law". She recalled that the UN had tried for the last year to determine the facts and establish a measure of individual or collective responsibility, in particular regarding allegations of large scale massacres and forced displacement leading to the deaths of many thousands of people in the DRC. "The people of the DRC, and of the broader region, are entitled to a future free from the violence and abuse of the past decades. An essential step in realising such changes lies in ending the cycle of impunity which has only encouraged inter-ethnic and other violence", Robinson stated.

Kabila says UN still welcome

Kabila said on Saturday his government was still ready to welcome the UN team. "Congo is still prepared to let UN investigators in," he told PANA in Tripoli. Kabila, who returned to DRC yesterday (Sunday), signed a number of cooperation agreements with Libya after he held talks with his Libyan counterpart Muammar Gadhafi.

UNESCO suspends its cooperation in DRC until Ngoma liberation

UNESCO said on Friday it would halt cooperation with DRC until the release of one its members of staff, detained for five months without trial. News agencies reported UNESCO Director General Frederico Mayor as saying his organisation had decided to "immediately review all aspects of its cooperation with (DRC) authorities until they give concrete signals that they will change their behaviour and ensure a positive outcome to the situation of Z'ahidi Arthur Ngoma". Mayor added he had received "alarming reports" on Ngoma's deteriorating health. Z'ahidi Arthur Ngoma, who is also the president of the opposition party, 'Les Forces du futur', was arrested on 25 November 1997 after a press conference. He recently escaped from a high-security prison in Buluwo, in Katanga, but was recaptured a few days later.

Journalist arrested - colleagues

Security officials arrested the editor of the pro-opposition newspaper 'La Reference Plus' over the weekend, Reuters reported colleagues as saying. The agency reported Andre Ipakala's arrest on Saturday followed the publication of a letter to the justice minister by a human rights activist accusing people close to Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) of torturing and killing prisoners. "He was arrested because of the article published on Wednesday about the mass graves," one colleague was quoted as saying.

RWANDA: Rebel hideout discovered in northwest

The Rwandan news agency has reported that an "important hide-out for Hutu militiamen" linked to a recent wave of insecurity in the northwest of the country has been discovered in Mutura Commune, Gisenyi prefecture. Quoting military sources, it said the hide-out was made up of a wide network of caves that were created by volcanic eruptions. "Since Monday (13th April), up to 200 people had gotten out of the caves and handed themselves over to local authorities," the officials in Gisenyi were quoting as telling the news agency last week.

"No regrets" says Kagame

Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame has said in an interview with BBC television he has "no regrets" about the role he has played in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. In the interview, first broadcast on Friday, he also tried to dispel the widely-held belief that he is the most powerful man in Rwanda. "It is not a question of an individual being in power, but institutions in power, I play my part as vice president," he stated. Kagame took issue with a recent Amnesty International report criticising the human rights situation in Rwanda, maintaining it was not based on fact. Kagame said there were "healthy changes" in the Great Lakes region "though there are problems to be addressed." He reiterated his belief in democracy, which he described as "the participation of the people in removing and installing leaders where they want."

Two Catholic priests sentenced to death for genocide crimes

Two Roman Catholic priests have been sentenced to death by a court in western Kibuye prefecture handling genocide cases, news organisations reported on Friday. The two priests, father Jean Francois Kayiranga and father Edouard Nkurikiye, were found guilty the previous day of crimes committed at Nyundo, near Gisenyi town, and at Nyange church, Kibuye. More than 2,000 people were massacred by Hutu militias and soldiers in Nyange church in Kivumu commune, about 75 km west of the capital Kigali, where the two priests had encouraged them to take refuge. The court heard the priests ordered the demolition of Nyange church by mechanical digger with the victims inside. The driver of the digger, Anastase Nkinamubanzi, paid by the priests to destroy the church, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

BURUNDI: Hutu rebels said massing near capital

Hutu rebels who launched an assault on Bujumbura airport in January are regrouping in the area around the Burundian capital, according to Interior Minister Epitace Bayaganakandi. AFP said press reports on Saturday quoted Bayaganakandi as telling the national assembly that rebel forces had bunkered down in a series of villages close to Bujumbara. Bayaganakandi, who also holds the public security portfolio, stressed that the rebels were a far "weaker" force from the one that launched a major assault on the airport in early January. No other details were immediately available.

SUDAN: Bashir denies dawn massacre

The Sudanese head of state dismissed as "mere defamatory rumours," accusations that military guards shot and killed 50 recruits who died early last month, AP reported on Sunday. The government has maintained that the recruits drowned. In his first comment on the incident, Bashir was quoted by SUNA as denying "any shot was fired against the student recruits."

KENYA: Two policemen killed in Pokot/Marakwet rustling

Two policemen were killed and five others wounded when security personnel battled cattle rustlers in West Pokot District, AFP reported today (Monday). The policemen died in a four-hour battle on Sunday morning with some 500 raiders suspected to be Marakwets. The Marakwet rustlers were on a revenge attack after the Pokots raided their territory, the agency said. More than 20 people have died in the two week raids between the Pokots and the Marakwets.The conflict has left residents camping in schools and churches with no food.

ANGOLA: Violence threatens peace process, says commission

A Peace Commission for Angola, chaired by the UN, says growing violence in certain regions was threatening the peace process, Reuters reported on Saturday. "An increase in acts of violence has been noted mainly in the provinces of Malange, Huila and Benguela", declared the Commission, which also includes UNITA and government representatives. The Commission added it regretted "the discrepancy between the political atmosphere, which is extremely positive, and the situation on the ground."

Meanwhile, the OAU has urged the international community to uphold UN sanctions imposed on UNITA ex-rebels. Following a five-day visit in the country by an OAU team, AFP reported the organisation had called in a statement for the international community to "scrupulously respect the sanctions" on UNITA, which include a travel ban and an embargo on delivery of any goods apart from humanitarian aid.

USA-AFRICA: Clinton to host Africa summit

President Bill Clinton intends to host a Washington summit with heads of "reforming" African states, 'The EastAfrican' weekly newspaper reported today. Though the list of attendants has not been determined, a US government official told the paper the attendants would be drawn from "those nations undertaking serious economic reforms and making significant progress in this regard." The announcement follows Clinton's recent 12-day tour of six African countries. UNITED NATIONS: Annan to visit Africa at end of April

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will tour eight eastern and central African countries from 29 April to 10 May, his office has announced. Annan is set to visit Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eritrea.

Nairobi, 20 April 1998, 14:30 GMT


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Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 18:18:00 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 399 for 18-20 April 98.4.20 Message-ID: <>

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

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