IRIN Update 406 for 29 Apr 98.4.29

IRIN Update 406 for 29 Apr 98.4.29

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. 406 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 29 April 1998)

RWANDA: Kambanda "widely assumed" to plead guilty at ICTR

A defence lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) told IRIN today (Wednesday) it was "widely assumed" that the tribunal's most prominent defendant will plead guilty to some or all of the six genocide-related charges against him. Former interim prime minister Jean Kambanda, the highest-ranking figure yet indicted for genocide by the ICTR, is set to appear before the court on Friday. Phil Taylor, who is an ICTR investigator acting on behalf of another defendant Georges Rutaganda, said Kambanda had been held since July 1997 not in the ICTR's detention facilities in Arusha, but at another "safe house", and had had no lawyer during that time.

Kingsley Moghala, legal adviser to the registrar of the ICTR, declined to comment on what he described as "speculation" about Kambanda's plea, but told IRIN, without confirming or denying the claims, that the statute of the ICTR allows detainees to be kept in safe houses. Fondation Hirondelle, a media NGO which reports on the Tribunal, said on Monday that Kambanda had been held in Dodoma. Moghala further said Kambanda had refused legal representation several times but that he accepted a lawyer "at the last minute". The ICTR has no clear procedure for plea-bargaining. The Intermedia Utabera news service, based in Arusha, also hinted at the possibility of a Kambanda guilty plea on Monday. Amnesty International is due to release a report on the work of the Tribunal tomorrow (Thursday).

Ruggiu interviewed in jail denies inciting genocide

Genocide suspect Georges Ruggiu has described the 1994 slaughter as "collective madness" and denied inciting the massacres. In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera', the Italo-Belgian journalist accused of inciting genocide over the extremist Mille Collines radio, admitted going on air "to speak in support of the Hutus". He claimed the genocide was not planned but was a "madness that took hold of people". He said he himself had been threatened by Hutus. Ruggiu is currently being held at the ICTR's detention facilities. The newspaper pointed out that defendants are forbidden to speak to journalists and the interview was "therefore conducted in violation of the rules".

Export diversification to include flowers, fruit

Rwanda plans to export flowers to Europe as part of plans to diversify its economy. According to the Kigali English-language weekly 'New Times', the move is intended to reduce reliance on tea and coffee exports in a bid to boost an economy battered by war and genocide. "By the end of 1998, Rwandan flowers and fruits will be hitting the European market," the weekly said.. Target countries were the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

SUDAN: Critical food shortages in Upper Nile, Equatoria

In its latest weekly report, WFP reported critical food shortages in Upper Nile and Equatoria states, as well as the ongoing crisis in Bahr al-Ghazal. Conflict in Upper Nile and Equatoria had prevented people's access to food. WFP and Operation Lifeline Sudan have been unable to assess the situation because of the fighting.

Rebels free 400 prisoners

SPLA rebels on Sunday released 400 government soldiers from a jail in Yei town of Western Equatoria state in Southern Sudan, according to Dan Eiffe of the Norwegian People's Aid. Eiffe, who witnessed the releases, told IRIN today the prisoners were free to do as they liked. According to Eiffe, some were going to join SPLA or the northern rebel National Democratic Alliance (NDA) while others were going back home to northern Sudan. Eiffe said he believed the releases were part of a deal between the SPLA and the NDA to "strengthen NDA's position in the north".

BURUNDI: Gatumba transit site to be shut

The WFP weekly report said the Gatumba transit site outside Bujumbura is to be closed and its occupants, mostly returnees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be transferred to their home areas. According to WFP, some 1,577 people are registered at the site, a third of whom have no home or land to return to. The authorities are seeking a new location for this group. In addition, the Burundi authorities held talks with WFP to discuss the possible reinstallation of some 100,000 displaced people. The report added that despite a precarious security situation in eastern DRC, refugees from Burundi were still attempting to cross the border. An estimated 9,000 Burundians had arrived in the Uvira region since January, but there are no plans to settle them in camps and many are being returned to Burundi.

GABON: Central African ministers open security meeting

Defence and interior ministers of 10 central African countries opened a meeting in Libreville yesterday (Tuesday), under UN auspices, to discuss security in the region. The countries represented are Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. The 11th country, Rwanda, although invited, did not attend the opening session. Gabonese Defence Minister Idriss Ngari, quoted by AFP, stressed the three day meeting should result in the adoption of "concrete measures" in the struggle against insecurity, arms proliferation and drugs trafficking. The meeting's discussion paper noted that armed conflicts in Africa had caused 3,500,000 deaths between 1990 and 1995. It also pointed out that 14 African countries were at war in 1996.

KENYA: NGO's deny pulling out of Garissa

CARE Kenya International and the Kenya Red Cross today denied they were winding up operations in Garissa as reported by Kenyan radio on Saturday. The secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross, Ephraim Githaiya, told IRIN the organisation was "reorganising and restructuring" its projects to suit people's needs. Susanne Niedrum, CARE's Assistant Country Director said the NGO had no intention of pulling out or scaling down. Instead, it was looking beyond emergency aid to "long term projects" with other NGO's and local communities, she added.

AFRICA: UN Secretary-General begins visit

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan begins an eight-country tour of Africa today, kicking off in Ethiopia where he will attend the 40th anniversary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa as well as meeting Ethiopian leaders. A UN spokesman said his visit then takes him to Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eritrea. He is due to return to New York on 11 May.

Nairobi, 29 April 1998, 14:40 gmt


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Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 406 for 29 Apr 98.4.29 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980429174057.834G-

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

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