IRIN Update 402 for 23 Apr 98.4.23

IRIN Update 402 for 23 Apr 98.4.23

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. 402 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 23 April 1998)

BURUNDI: Total of 76 rebels and civilians reported killed

A total of 76 rebels and civilians have been killed in an attack by Hutu rebels east of the capital, Bujumbura, the army said today (Thursday). News agencies quoted military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isaie Nibizi saying the 76 were killed in dawn attacks in Isale commune, about 20 km east of the capital on Wednesday. "Twenty-nine civilians were killed by terrorists (Hutu rebels) and 10 houses were burned down. Our soldiers intervened and shot down 47 terrorists," Nibizi told Reuters. State radio reported late yesterday (Wednesday) that 73 were killed in the attack, 47 rebels and 26 civilians while AFP earlier reported at least 49 people were dead in what appears to be the worst fighting since 1 January when rebels and briefly captured Bujumbura airport.

Meanwhile, IPS reported that former Tanzanian leader Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would start a six-nation tour at the end of this week to solicit support for his effort to revive stalled peace talks in Burundi. Nyerere, who is the internationally recognised mediator in the conflict, will visit Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Africa, United States, France and Switzerland.

CNDD says government has killed 88,000 since July 1996

Meanwhile, Burundi's main Hutu organisation the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) said today the government of military leader Pierre Buyoya had killed 88,000 Burundians since it seized power in July 1996. The organisation also denied at a press conference in Nairobi that its fighters had raided villages and killed Tutsi civilians. "We cannot kill people who are our electorate. They elected us in 1993, and they are going to elect us soon again," CNDD's East Africa representative Innocent Nimpagaritse said. He accused the army of being responsible for recent killings, saying the authorities wanted to build a "security belt" around Bujumbura. Nimpagaritse called recent moves, initiated by Buyoya, towards creating new institutions which would include members of the opposition Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) "a dishonest strategy". He said it was devised to "avoid a return to the negotiating table".

Nimpagaritse dismissed accusations made in Nairobi by Burundi's Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama yesterday that Burundian rebels were training in refugee camps in Tanzania. He said his organisation's armed wing did not need to train in Tanzania because they could do so in Burundi itself.

Danish aid worker killed in robbery - Reuters report

A Danish aid worker in Burundi was killed late on Wednesday in an apparent car-jacking attempt in the capital, Reuters reported. The agency reported aid officials saying Bent Nielsen, Burundi director of the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), was killed when thieves tried to steal his car in Bwiza suburb around nine p.m. local time (19:00 GMT). Nielsen, a Danish citizen, had lived in Bujumbura for over 10 years.

RWANDA: Criticism mounts over planned public executions

The UN and Amnesty International have strongly criticised Rwanda's plans to execute in public on Friday some 23 people convicted of participation in the 1994 genocide. The executions, the first since trials of some 130,000 jailed suspects began, will be carried out in public by firing squad at The UN and Amnesty International have strongly criticised Rwanda's plans to execute in public on Friday some 23 people convicted of participation in the 1994 genocide. The executions, the first since trials of some 130,000 jailed suspects began, will be carried out in public by firing squad at 10:00 a.m. local time. The UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UNHRFOR) deplored the decision under the terms of the international convention on civil and political rights. "The UN protests the carrying out of the executions. We don't consider it positively," UNHRFOR spokesman Jose Luis Hererro said in a statement.

In its last report in December, the UNHRFOR voiced concern over the trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda, saying there had been a "lack of full respect for some fair-trial guarantees as provided for by Rwandan law and under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." The report said these included a general lack of opportunity for defendants without lawyers to question witnesses and limited legal representation of people in certain outlying areas.

Amnesty says executions will deal blow to reconciliation hopes

Amnesty International said today the planned public executions were a "brutal pretence of "justice" which would damage any hope of reconciliation. "We are continuing to campaign for those who participated in the genocide to be promptly and fairly brought to justice. However, executing people -- and so unashamedly in public -- does not serve the interests of justice but further brutalises a society which is trying to heal from the memories of recent atrocities," Amnesty International stated in a press release.

The executions were ordered at a special cabinet meeting on Monday when President Pasteur Bizimungu turned down pleas for clemency. "It is time the Rwandese government sent a message to a traumatised population that killing is unacceptable and halt these executions," Amnesty said. Amnesty International said it was particularly concerned that many of the defendants had been sentenced to death after an unfair trial. While the identity of all the 23 to be executed is not known, it is feared that they include individuals whose trials were grossly unfair, including some who were tried without access to a defence lawyer. ICTR lawyer adds voice to protests

A Canadian lawyer defending key Rwandan genocide suspects at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) added her voice to the growing criticism of the Rwandan government's decision. AFP reported Tiphaine Dickson, who is a defence counsel for one of the main suspects before the UN tribunal, as saying that among those due to be shot on Friday were a former public prosecutor and a key defence witness. Dickson is defending Georges Rutaganda, one of those suspected of masterminding the genocide. "I strongly oppose the execution of a public prosecutor", whose trial in Rwanda was of "dubious legality" Dickson was quoted as saying.

Rwandan army kills at least 90 rebels

The Rwanda army has killed at least 90 rebels over the last two weeks in the central Bulinga commune, a Rwandan official in Gitarama said today. News organisations reported Desire Nyandwi, prefect of the town, saying the military had carried out a sweep against the rebels "with the help of the population".

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Humanitarian situation in Brazzaville improves

Brazzaville appears to be on track towards a feasible recovery and construction process, the latest UN Humanitarian Situation Report states. The city was estimated to have reached "about 80 percent of its pre-war population, up from 70 percent last December," according to the February report. Most of the estimated 50,000 refugees in the DRC have since returned - 17,000 of them voluntarily repatriated with UNHCR assistance.

ANGOLA: Military situation worrying

The UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Angola Blondin Beye has described the military situation in Angola as "worrying," Portuguese radio reported on Monday.The envoy said the situation in the central-southern provinces was not stable "not because there is war but because there is military activity beyond simple banditry." He observed that this was bound to affect the peace process.He, however, expressed optimism that the UN would not resume new sanctions against the UNITA former rebel movement.

UNITED NATIONS: Annan to attend Addis Adaba conference next week

Four African leaders and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will join 500 guests next week in Addis Ababa to discuss the future of women in Africa, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said in a statement. The four-day conference opening in the Ethiopian capital on 28 April will mark the 40th anniversary of the ECA. The theme is "African Women and Economic Development - Investing in our Future". The ECA said the leaders of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Ghana had confirmed they would attend.

Annan urges freeze on African military spending

Annan recently called on African nations to freeze their military spending for 10 years. Expressing concern over the number of armed conflicts on the politically-troubled continent, Annan also urged the 53 African countries to reduce arms purchases to below 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In a new UN report on Africa, published last week, the Secretary-General said that continuing conflicts in the region "pose a major challenge to UN efforts designed to ensure global peace, prosperity and human rights for all".

Nairobi, 23 April 1998, 15:00 GMT


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Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 18:45:35 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 402 for 23 Apr 98.4.23 Message-ID: <>

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

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