IRIN Weekly Round-up 16-98 10-16 Apr 98.4.17

IRIN Weekly Round-up 16-98 10-16 Apr 98.4.17

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 16-98 covering the period 10-16 Apr 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 on 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 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.

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.

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.

World "too preoccupied" with refugees - minister

DRC Justice Minister Mweze Kongolo has charged that the international community's preoccupation with the issue of Rwandan refugees meant it had forgotten its responsibility regarding the "murderous catastrophes" in the Great Lakes region. He said Interahamwe forces had "continued the Rwandan genocide on Congolese soil and aggravated the region's ethnic conflict". He added that his country "should not, only a few months after the war of liberation, be asked to eradicate immediately and totally human rights violations".

Government authorisation needed to use private airstrips

The DRC government over the weekend declared the closure of all private airstrips in the country, DRC television reported. The airstrips can now only be used with special authorisation from the minister of state for the interior.

BURUNDI: UN rapporteur says army and rebels violating rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burundi Paulo Pinheiro has accused both the army and rebels of serious human rights violations. In a briefing to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on Tuesday, he said there were "massacres and involuntary disapperances" following clashes between the army and rebels. He again stressed the regional economic sanctions imposed on Burundi should not be designed to punish the people. The country was suffering from "dangerous isolation", he said, and appealed to the international community to cease that isolation immediately.

Regional embargo not working - EU envoy

The regional economic embargo imposed on Burundi is ineffective, EU special envoy Aldo Ajello said on Friday. Speaking in Kigali, he said the sanctions were "violated every day", AFP reported. But he added: "It is not the EU's problem and we must respect the decision of the countries in the region that imposed it."

RWANDA: No reason for optimism, EU envoy says

Ajello noted there was "no reason to be optimistic" about the situation in the region. "The powder and the fire are moving closer together each day," he warned. He said it was necessary to "close the wound still bleeding over the genocide" before Rwanda's problems could be addressed. He noted that the Hutu insurgency "has no spokesman and...according to our information is bent on continuing genocide and has no intention of joining society". Human rights assessment must take into account genocide

The UN commission's special representative on human rights in Rwanda, Michel Moussalli, stressed any consideration of the situation in that country must be taken with full awareness of the 1994 genocide and the international community's inability to confront it. He told the commission he was impressed by the government's commitment to promote and respect human rights and he urged increasing the presence of human rights monitors in the country to work with the authorities in promoting national dialogue. He deplored the "inhuman" prison conditions and called for international economic assistance to help Rwanda undertake development programmes.

UN to reactivate enquiry commission into illegal arms sales

The UN Security Council on Thursday voted to reactivate an international commission of enquiry into illegal arms sales to the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militiamen. A resolution adopted by the Security Council calls on the commission to "identify parties aiding and abetting the illegal sale" of weapons. It also calls for recommendations relating to the illegal flow of arms in the Great Lakes region and urges international cooperation in countering hate radio broadcasts and publications. The commission's last report in November 1996, published in January this year, accused the former Zaire of playing a central role in arming the Rwandan ex-government forces and militias who had sought refuge in the country.

Upsurge in violence as over 100 killed in past week

Over 100 people have been killed in violence perpetrated by Interahamwe militiamen since Rwanda commemorated the fourth anniversary of the 1994 genocide last Monday. According to the Rwanda News Agency, 10 people were killed in two separate incidents in Nyamabuye commune, central Gitarama prefecture, on Saturday night. Five people died when their vehicles came under fire, while five others - all genocide survivors - were killed in their homes. In nearby Tabwe sector, five women - also genocide survivors - were hacked to death with machetes, knives and hoes.

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 on Thursday that the company "stayed out" of Congo-Brazzaville at the request of Angola. A statement received 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.

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."

Calm returns to clash-hit region

Calm has returned to southwest Congo's Bouenza region after clashes broke out this month between security forces and militiamen loyal to ousted president Pascal Lissouba, AFP reported. The security forces intervened in Mouyondzi and other towns in Bouenza after the militiamen, known as Cocoyes, reportedly went on the rampage, looting and extorting from residents. An attack by Cocoyes on the Moukoukoulou hydro-electric dam last week blacked out southern cities, including the economic capital Pointe Noire.

Central African Republic: UN peacekeeping mission commences

The UN peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic, known as MINURCA, kicked off on Wednesday. The 1,350-strong force is mandated to strengthen security, collect weapons and maintain order in the capital Bangui. It will also train police officers and provide technical assistance for elections scheduled for September, following a national reconciliation agreement signed by political groups last month. The UN force takes over from the Inter-African Mission for Surveillance of the Bangui Accords (MISAB) which has been keeping the peace for the past year. The MINURCA mission initially has a three-month mandate.

ANGOLA: Peace depends on trust and security - UNITA

UNITA said it would cooperate to restore peace, Angolan TV reported. UNITA senior official Antonio Dembo said at a press conference last Thursday that the party's leader Jonas Savimbi's return to Luanda "will depend on trust and security that government and UNITA can create in Luanda." He demanded that the government hand over the remains of UNITA leaders killed in the capital when the country's civil war resumed in late 1992. He also called for the lifting of UN sanctions against the party.

Institute says threat of war remains

According to a report by the Johannesburg-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the threat of civil war in Angola remains. The ISS says a rift has emerged within UNITA between those opposed to war and hardliners refusing to trust the Angolan government's peace-making efforts, South Africa's 'Mail&Guardian' reported. "The most likely time for a resumption of larger-scale military operations on the part of FAA [Angolan Armed Forces] is at the end of the rainy season in April," says the report.

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 30 April, Ali al-Haj Mohammed, deputy Secretary General of the Sudanese National Congress said on Wednesday. The country's draft constitution would feature prominently in the talks, he added.

Parliamentary committee investigates death of conscripts

A Sudanese parliamentary committee is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of young army conscripts attempting to escape from a military camp near Khartoum earlier this month. According to the government, 54 conscripts drowned as they fled Aylafun camp on the Blue Nile on 3 April. According to Sudanese TV yesterday, monitored by the BBC, the deputy commander of the camp denied opposition claims that 120 conscripts were shot by guards and 140 drowned after they mutinied over the army's refusal to let them return home for the Moslem festival of Al-Adha.

The opposition National Democratic Alliance said on Saturday its fighters killed 12 government soldiers in the Gedaref region near the Ethiopian border in "retaliation" for the Ayalafun "massacre", AFP reported.

UGANDA: Five injured in Kampala grenade attack

Five people were injured in a grenade attack on a popular bar in a Kampala suburb on Sunday, media reports said. The blast at the Bermuda Triangle bar was suspected to have been a stick grenade hurled from the grounds of a nearby mosque, according to the BBC. The recent spate of explosions in Kampala have been the result of home-made bombs. The police last Thursday announced the formation of a new national task force against terrorism, the official 'New Vision' newspaper reported.

ADF kill 13 in Kasese

Allied Democratic Forces rebels killed 13 people, wounded nine, and abducted at least 30 in two attacks in southwestern Kasese District last Thursday. According to the 'New Vision', the army killed one of the rebel commanders. The newspaper said that some 100 insurgents were involved in the two attacks on trading centres in Kyabarungira and Kicwamba sub-counties.

Army deployed to end cattle raids

The Ugandan army has been deployed in two southeastern districts bordering Kenya hit by raids by Karamojong cattle rustlers, the 'New Vision' reported on Friday. Ten people have died in Karamojong raids in Kapchorwa and Mbale Districts since 6 April, launched in reprisal for an attack by rival Pokot pastoralists two days earlier, the paper said.

KENYA: Security to be reinforced in west

Security reinforcements are to be sent to the troubled Pokot-Marakwet area of western Kenya, the Kenyan media reported on Tuesday. Fighting between the Pokot and Marakwet communities, triggered by cattle rustling, has left at least 10 people dead over the past week. Hundreds of villagers have reportedly fled the Keiyo district. Opposition Democratic Party leader Mwai Kibaki has accused the government of responsibility for the killings by allowing the Pokot to possess guns while those of the Marakwet have been withdrawn, the 'Daily Nation' reported.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: UN appeal gets off to a slow start

The US $573 million UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for the Great Lakes and Central Africa has so far raised only US $29.2 million, or five percent of the target. Figures released on Wednesday by OCHA reveal that other humanitarian programmes in the region (mainly NGO and Red Cross Movement activities) had raised US $51 million by the end of March. OCHA's Financial Tracking Unit collects statistics on humanitarian financial flows from donors.

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

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday recommended 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, Annan argued 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 the economic field, Annan called for "peace-friendly" structural adjustment programmes and cancellation of official bilateral debt of the poorest African countries. Annan urged Africans and non-Africans to "summon the political will when action is so evidently needed".

Recruiting child soldiers should be war crime - UNICEF

UNICEF said on Tuesday people who recruit child soldiers should be tried for war crimes. In a statement, reported by AFP, UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy said a permanent International Criminal Court "should give a clear signal that atrocities committed against children will not go unpunished". UNICEF wants to see the legal age for recruiting soldiers raised from 15 to 18.

Nairobi, 17 April 1998, 12:00 GMT


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Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 14:46:59 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 16-98 10-16 Apr 98.4.17 Message-ID: <>

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

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