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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 14-98 covering the period 27 Mar - 2 Apr 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Tension still prevails in South Kivu
Local sources in South Kivu told IRIN there is still tension between Banyamulenge and non-Banyamulenge soldiers in the area. A group of 27 Banyamulenge soldiers, who deserted in Uvira, have been arrested for allegedly inciting an army mutiny earlier this year and are reportedly being interrogated in Bukavu. The sources added that Banyamulenge civilians are suspected of collaborating with their military counterparts and their security is in danger. The security situation in Uvira is also said to be rapidly deteriorating as ex-FAZ soldiers, reintegrated into the Congolese army, are arbitrarily arresting and stealing from people.
UN investigators still face difficulties
Forensic experts on the UN human rights investigation have left for home and will only return to DRC if the mission is allowed "to work freely", according to team leader Atsu-Kofi Amega. He told Reuters on Wednesday that investigators still faced problems in the eastern town of Goma and that an incident over a mass grave in the northwestern town of Mbandaka led the four forensic experts to pull out of the country on Saturday.
Rights group calls for UN withdrawal
Human Rights Watch has called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to withdraw UN human rights investigators from the DRC and hold President Laurent-Desire Kabila accountable for obstructions, AP reported. In a letter to Annan published on Friday, the US-based group noted the withdrawal of a UN team of forensic experts from Mbandaka where they were threatened by angry residents who accused them of desecrating a traditional grave site. "This protest would appear to have been organised by the government as yet a further pretext to impede the investigation,'' Human Rights Watch said.
Kinshasa denies problems
A senior DRC ministry official in charge of liaison with the UN team, Emmanuel Kambali, said the investigation was going on unfettered. "I have not heard of problems that the team may have encountered in Goma. We are in contact with our people there. If there was a problem, we would know. What they [the UN] are saying is not true," Kambali told Reuters by telephone. Minister of Planning Etienne Richard Mbaya accused the team of refusing to travel with their liaison officers or informing the provincial governor as previously agreed, according to Agence congolaise de presse.
Draft constitution under debate
President Laurent-Desire Kabila is considering a draft constitution handed to him on Monday by a constitutional committee. According to media reports, the draft envisages a five-year presidency and English and French as official languages. Committee chairman Anicet Kashamura said
the draft was similar to the US model comprising a president with wide-ranging powers and a vice-president, but no prime minister. The committee also drew up a provisional list of some 250 people who would not be allowed to contest the presidency. These include veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and former parliament speaker Laurent Monsengwo.
Cholera epidemic in the Kivus
Cholera is spreading rapidly throughout South Kivu, humanitarian sources told IRIN. The disease first broke out in the Bukavu neighbourhood of Kadutu in February and is now spreading into several rural zones of South Kivu and into western Rwanda. It has reportedly reached epidemic proportions in the areas of Katana, Kabare, Nyangezi, Uvira, Lemera and Bukavu. Sources said that unless urgent action was taken now, the epidemic would reach disaster proportions. Meanwhile, local health officials have confirmed a cholera epidemic in North Kivu encouraged by large population displacements.
RWANDA: President of country's highest court suspended
The president of Rwanda's highest court, Major Augustin Cyiza, has been suspended from his duties. The government said that Cyiza had been suspended "to facilitate an enquiry concerning him", without giving further details. As head of the highest court known as the Cour de Cassation, Cyiza is also one of the five vice presidents of Rwanda's Supreme Court, which is empowered to deal with the trials of those accused of genocide in 1994. The Supreme Court will oversee elections when the five-year mandate of the current transitional Government of National Unity and Reconciliation expires next year, AFP said. Cyiza is an ex-FAR officer.
Human rights situation improving
A UN human rights official in Rwanda has said the human rights situation in the country is improving. In an interview with AFP, Gerard Fischer, said there was a "real will" in Rwanda to improve human rights. He added however that although the situation was improving, "it could be better". But over the last two months, violations had decreased. "In a post-genocide country, projects are difficult to initiate and it takes time," Fischer was quoted as saying.
'Le Figaro' implicates France in 1994 plane crash
The French daily 'Le Figaro' on Monday said the crew of a plane which crashed in Kigali in 1994 killing the Rwandan and Burundian presidents were secretly working for the French government. One of the widows said the men had been given the military status of "killed in action" despite being civilians and were posthumously decorated by the government. The newspaper also claimed Soviet-made missiles which were part of French stocks were responsible for downing the plane. However in a statement to AFP, a top French gendarme Paul Barril described the allegations as "implausible and incoherent" and he "formally" denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary information mission probing France's involvement in the Rwanda genocide on Tuesday heard fresh testimonies from two experts who said the international community, including France and Belgium, was aware the massacres were being prepared.
Interahamwe kill 29 in two attacks this week
Hutu rebels killed nine people in Nyabikenke in Rwanda's central Gitarama province on Monday night, according to the Rwanda News Agency. The attackers "clearly singled out their victims, because there were no wounded," the agency said. On Sunday, Hutu rebels killed 20 people and wounded 42 in an attack on a displaced persons camp in northern Ruhengeri. The militiamen also stormed the local prison and released 29 inmates, news agencies reported. The displaced camp of Kinigi, 15 km north of Ruhengeri town, held some 3,000 people, most of them Hutu.
ICTR begins deliberations in Akayesu trial
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has begun deliberations in the case of former mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu. The defence counsel delivered their closing arguments last Thursday, contending that Akayesu was a scapegoat for genocide ringleaders in the central Rwandan commune of Taba. The defence team claimed that Akayesu had lost de facto control to a group of Interahamwe, who bore genuine responsibility for the killings in the area, an ICTR statement said.
TANZANIA: Dar es Salaam unlikely to jail Rwanda genocide convicts
Tanzania has expressed reluctance to jail convicted Rwandan war criminals sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. Deputy Foreign Minister Sigela Nswima told the Tanzanian 'Guardian' newspaper the security situation in Arusha was too tense for the government to take responsibility imprisoning genocide convicts. "Our decision will depend on our national interests, and the United Nations cannot force any government to act against its national interests," he said. The first verdict is expected later this year.
British minister calls for government action to end Zanzibar crisis
British minister of state Tony Lloyd on Friday urged the Tanzanian government to pressure the Zanzibar authorities into improving their civil rights record, AFP said. At the end of a four-day official visit to Tanzania, Lloyd said the Tanzanian government was responsible for Zanzibar's human rights violations, because the semi-autonomous twin Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba were not a signatory to international human rights conventions.
Norway freezes aid to Zanzibar
Norway, demonstrating its disapproval of the political standoff, on Friday announced a freeze on new development aid to Zanzibar until the Tanzanian government resolves the Zanzibar crisis. Norway however agreed to provide assistance to Tanzania as a whole after four days of talks with the government, AFP reported.
Moslems riot over alleged police brutality
Angry Moslems rioted in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, setting on fire two government vehicles and two CCM branch offices. The rioters were protesting against what they called the "humiliation of Moslem women" who had been detained by police during a similar incident last month, AFP said.
BURUNDI: New defence minister named
President Pierre Buyoya has appointed a new defence minister to replace Firmin Sinzoyiheba who died in a helicopter crash in January. According to a Reuters report, the new minister is Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Nkurunziza, Buyoya's chief military adviser. An article in the 'EastAfrican' weekly on Monday claimed Nkurunziza was released from custody in Nigeria last week, after his plane was impounded in Lagos allegedly for carrying a cache of weapons.
News agency closed, opposition paper seized
The Burundi authorities summoned the director of the Netpress news agency for reporting the seizure of an opposition newspaper, independent Radio Umwizero reported. The Netpress offices were closed as director Claude Kavumbagu was questioned by the intelligence services. News reports said 'l'Aube de la democratie', mouthpiece of the FRODEBU opposition party, had reappeared in Bujumbura last week after a two-year suspension. On Friday, Netpress reported the head of the official press council Simon Kururu as saying the seizure was illegal.
Concern over security in Bujumbura rural
The authorities in Bujumbura Rural have expressed concern over the security situation in displaced people's camps, especially in the communes of Gishubi and Kibuye, the Azania news agency reported. Over the past two weeks, 15,000 displaced people had arrived in the commune of Isale fleeing fighting in Gishubi and Kibuye. A joint UN-NGO mission visited Gishubi and Cirisha in Isale last week. It was decided that WFP would provide a provisional seven-day ration. OCHA-Burundi said at this point it was not feasible to distribute more food due to the fluidity of the situation.
SUDAN: Khartoum lifts Bahr al-Ghazal relief flight suspension
Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) on Thursday welcomed a decision by the Sudanese government to allow relief flights to resume into all areas of Bahr al-Ghazal province where 350,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The new clearance allows OLS agencies to fly to more than 50 locations in Bahr al- Ghazal this month, and to 180 countrywide. According to OLS, the lifting of the flight suspension comes at a critical moment for people in the region. WFP has only been able to cover 19 percent of people's food requirements from February to mid-March. Food aid deliveries are particularly essential over the next four weeks when people are cultivating their land in preparation for the next harvest.
Government to send troops to contain clashes in west
President Omar al-Bashir is to send troops to western Sudan to contain communal clashes in which 23 people have been killed and over 50 villages torched. According to press reports, quoted by AFP, Bashir told a gathering of non-Arab Aringa tribesmen that troops would be despatched to "maintain order and impose the state's authority". Arab tribes have reportedly been attacking the homes of non-Arab communities in western Darfur state.
ANGOLA: UNITA delegation arrives in Luanda to reopen party offices
A senior UNITA delegation arrived in Luanda on Wednesday night to reopen the party's offices in one of the few remaining steps to the completion of the Angolan peace process. The delegation, headed by UNITA Vice-President Antonio Dembo, arrived in the capital a few hours before the expiry of the 1 April deadline, news agencies reported. UNITA however failed to meet the Wednesday deadline to turn over to the central government about 100 localities it still controls and close down its radio VORGAN station.
Senior defector says UNITA retains military capability
According to a recent high level UNITA defector, Colonel Benguela, "there is no coherence between the words and actions of UNITA leaders" because UNITA "has still kept intact its equipment and artillery." He also revealed that UNITA "has a militarised structure all over the country", the London-based Angolan Peace Monitor said in its 27 March issue. Meanwhile, Zambia has sent 500 government troops to the border with Angola to carry out a joint operation with the Angolan army to investigate allegations that UNITA has stockpiled weapons in the area, and that UNITA has military bases in the country.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN agrees to send peacekeepers
The UN Security Council on Friday voted to send up to 1,350 UN peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic. The UN force, to be known as MINURCA, will replace the inter-African force, MISAB, which was deployed to monitor peace agreements signed in January 1997 aimed at ending a series of army mutinies. The mandate of the 750-strong inter-African force expires on 15 April. MINURCA has an initial mandate of three months to help maintain security and train police officers, as well as to provide technical assistance to elections scheduled for September.
UGANDA: ADF chairman calls for arrest of "lawless elements"
The chairman of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has called for the arrest of all "lawless elements within our ranks who have been terrorising and harassing innocent civilians." Frank Kithasamba said in a statement received by IRIN that "a liberation movement that kidnaps, tortures and kills the people it is supposed to protect and liberate is no liberation movement at all but a disgrace". He called on ADF commanders to immediately release civilians in their captivity.
KENYA: Cattle rustling in North-Rift hamper humanitarian services
NGO's operating in Kenya's North Pokot and Marakwet areas have warned that an upsurge in cattle rustling is threatening their activities, according to Kenya's 'Sunday Nation' . The paper said that cattle raiding by Karamajong crossing from Uganda is on the rise. In reaction to a recent attack when Karamajong raided the Kanyarikwat area and stole 400 cattle, cabinet minister Francis Lotodo urged the government to provide enough firearms to police reservists in the region.
Nairobi, 3 April 1998, 12:15 GMT
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Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 13:46:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 14-98 27 Mar - 2 Apr 98.4.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980403134546.4119Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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