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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. 482 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 18 August 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Confusion over Kabila's whereabouts
[For further detailed information on DRC, refer to today's separate IRIN item headlined "Regional mediation efforts intensify"]
There was confusion today (Tuesday) over the whereabouts of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, also DRC defence minister. Press reports said he did not attend a regional defence ministers' meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe yesterday (Monday). Other reports claimed he left Kinshasa yesterday for his Lubumbashi stronghold. His Information Minister, Didier Mumengi, merely said "he is in the Democratic Republic of Congo", when asked by journalists about the president's movements. Still blaming Rwanda for the rebellion underway in the country, Mumengi said the rebels "will never reach Kinshasa". "We have what is needed to stop them reaching Kinshasa," he added, according to Reuters.
Soldiers told to regroup
State radio yesterday broadcast a message to government soldiers, telling them to regroup at a military base in the city. AP said the call came amid increasing disarray in the army. It quoted a former military intelligence officer, with close ties to the government, who claimed the important Zulu battalion had defected to the rebels in western DRC.
Kinshasa was again without electricity today, after rebels captured the western Inga hydroelectic dam.
Aru in rebel hands
Humanitarian sources told IRIN today the town of Aru, north of Bunia, on the border with Uganda had fallen to the rebels.
Ngoma predicts new DRC government "in the days ahead"
Meanwhile, one of the rebel leaders Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, previously named coordinator of the rebellion, told Radio France Internationale he was in Goma. The new institutions announced this week in eastern DRC by the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) were temporary, he said. A new government would be in place in Kinshasa "in the days ahead". He stressed the pan-Congolese character of the rebellion which, he said, had no single leader because "we want to depart a bit from warlord Kabila's methods". Once they reached Kinshasa, they would work together with all "struggling forces", including the main opposition party Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) led by Etienne Tshisekedi.
UDPS urges Angola not to "rescue" Kabila
The UDPS yesterday urged Angola "not to rush to the rescue" of Kabila, who briefly visited Luanda at the weekend. In a statement issued in Paris, reported by AFP, the party accused Kabila of "giving the impression of having good relations with the Luanda authorities and making juicy deals with Jonas Savimbi's UNITA". "The re-establishment of a lasting peace in the DRC...will be achieved through the elimination of the major obstacle, which is Laurent Kabila," the statement said.
OAU condemns "external intervention"
OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim has said that if the DRC government's accusations against Uganda and Rwanda prove to be true, the two countries would be "guilty of violating the OAU's charter", Tanzanian radio reported. In an interview with the radio yesterday, he said the OAU had sent emissaries to Rwanda, Uganda and DRC to investigate the claims of "invasion". According to the radio, he added that "even if the rebels took power...they would not solve the country's (DRC) problems". A statement issued by the OAU in Addis Ababa today called on the rebels to lay down their arms and condemned "any external intervention" in DRC's affairs.
BURUNDI: Returnees complain of mistreatment in DRC
Some of the 60 Rwandans and Burundians who were evacuated to Bujumbura from Kinshasa yesterday, told the Agence burundaise de presse they had been mistreated in the Congolese capital. The Burundi ambassador to DRC, who was among the evacuees, had expressed fears for their safety while still in Kinshasa.
Meanwhile, the rebel CNDD-FDD group claimed Burundian soldiers had crossed into Uvira to help DRC rebel forces capture the town. The Burundi government has consistently denied involvement in the DRC conflict.
TANZANIA: Refugees arriving from DRC, Burundi
UNHCR Kigoma told IRIN 180 Congolese had arrived by boat in the western Tanzanian region of Kigoma since the beginning of the DRC war. UNHCR added it was "expecting many more Congolese" based on the accounts of the newly- arrived refugees, most of whom are from Uvira. The refugees will be accommodated in Nyarugusu refugee camp, in Kasulu district, which was built to house some 41,000 Congolese who fled the 1996 war against Mobutu Sese Seko.
UNHCR also said there had been a recent influx of Burundian refugees, with 857 crossing into the Kigoma region between 5 and 17 August. Most of them had fled fighting in the southern Burundi provinces of Rutana, Bururi and Makamba. They were reportedly in a poor condition. According to OCHA, there are some 272,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, including 160,000 in Kigoma region and 112,000 in Ngara region.
KENYA-TANZANIA: Albright visits bomb sites
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in the region today to visit the bomb blast sites in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and meet top leaders. Press reports said that during the one-day visit she would also convey her condolences to some of those injured in the bombings that killed over 250 and left more than 5,000 wounded.
RWANDA: Genocide suspect pleads not guilty at ICTR
A former prefect of Butare in southern Rwanda yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. The prefect, Alphonse Nteziryayo, is accused of "ordering the murder of every surviving Tutsi" in his prefecture during the 1994 genocide. He is further accused of taking part in the killings himself.
Nairobi, 18 August 1998, 14:15 gmt
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Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998 17:13:14 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 482 for 18 August 1998.8.18 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980818171139.32158Nfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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