IRIN Update 1252 for the Great Lakes
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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DRC: Dialogue to be held in Ethiopia, beginning 15 October
The inter-Congolese national reconciliation dialogue will be held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia beginning on 15 October, South African news agency SAPA reported Friday. "It has been a week of hard work and an event filled with symbolism. The road to successful dialogue has now been opened. Return home and do what you can to communicate that spirit to all of your compatriots," talks facilitator Ketumile Masire was quoted by SAPA as telling delegates at the close of preparatory talks held last week in Gaborone, Botswana. Masire noted that all parties to the conflict called for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from the DRC and the release of political prisoners. Masire also announced that the DRC government had given US $1 million to fund the dialogue, and that the armed opposition parties had pledged unspecified amounts.
DRC: Sides believe "war is over" - almost
Following last week's talks in Gaborone, Botswana to lay the groundwork for a national reconciliation dialogue on the DRC to begin in Addis Ababa on 15 October, DRC Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu told Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Friday he believed the war was over. "Bearing in mind the demands of the international community and also of the reality on the ground, and today's pre-dialogue accord here in Gaborone, we can say that the war is over," he said. "I think that any party taking the initiative of a return to war would really find itself hauled over the coals by the entire international community," he added. "I absolutely refuse to believe that any of the parties here would take the risk of a warlike initiative."
In the opposite camp, the secretary-general of the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel group, Azarias Ruberwa, expressed a similar, if qualified, view. "The guns have fallen silent, relatively speaking [...] and I cannot see any one of those parties - any of the serious ones anyway - taking up arms again." However, he warned of "lingering concerns" on the issue of disarming of so-called "negative forces," namely military groups that are not signatories of the 1999 Lusaka peace agreement, and stated RCD-Goma would go as far as disarming such forces themselves, if need be. "Knowing these are by and large disorganised forces with a negative attitude, we cannot guarantee that, in Kivu [province] for example, no more gunfire will be heard," he said. "It depends on what will happen regarding the agreement to disarm the government-backed negative forces. If the government continues to support them, then obviously they will continue attacking the population, and we cannot allow that to happen. In such an eventuality we will certainly intervene to impose peace by disarming them forcibly in our own military way."
DRC: Military alliance strengthened with Angola, Republic of Congo
Military officers from the DRC, the Republic of Congo (ROC) and Angola agreed on Friday in Brazzaville to create a permanent consultative structure aimed at addressing security issues affecting the three neighbours, Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias reported Sunday. Opening the meeting, which gathered 50 officers from the three countries, ROC's security advisor from the interior ministry, Colonel Pierre Mongo, said the commission should become an instrument for "prevention and regulation of conflict between our states," AFP reported. "Our relations must be healthy and devoid of the climate of mistrust which characterised them at one time," added Mongo.
DRC, ROC and Angola were already bound by a military alliance forged in the late 1990s that obliges them to support each others' loyalist forces in the face of armed rebellions. The Angolan army (together with troops from Namibia and Zimbabwe) is presently in the DRC, backing Kinshasa in a three-year-long battle with rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda. Despite the alliance, relations between Brazzaville and Kinshasa have been marked by mistrust, AFP noted, fuelled by rumours that the DRC is supporting Brazzaville rebels, and that Brazzaville is backing DRC rebels. Both sides have denied the claims.
DRC: Opposition leader complains of arrest of supporters
The leader of the opposition party Forces Novatrices pour l'Union et la Solidarite (FONU), Joseph Olenghankoy, has complained that eleven of his supporters were arrested near Kinshasa airport on Saturday, where they were rallying to welcome him back from the preparatory meeting for the inter-Congolese dialogue. The government has denied that any FONUS supporters were arrested. Olenghankoy called for "the immediate and unconditional liberation of the people arrested and arbitrarily detained". He and other delegates to the meeting in Gaborone also complained that their passports had been retained by the authorities on their return. By Sunday evening, information minister, Kikaya Bin Karubi, could not confirm or deny the detention of FONUS supporters but said that if they had been troubling public order it was quite normal for them to be arrested. He reiterated that none of the party's supporters had been arrested a stand which as reiterated by the interior ministry. As for the passports, Karubi said the government delegates also had their passports retained. "The passports are the property of the Congolese government which reserves the right to retain them", he said, "particularly in the case of diplomatic passports". The DRC government and the other parties to the pre-dialogue meeting signed an undertaking last week to free all prisoners of opinion. FONUS claims that some 5,000 of its supporters rallied at the airport on Saturday afternoon.
DRC: Rebel official proposes creation of criminal court
Creation of a criminal court for the DRC was suggested last week by an official of Jean-Pierre Bemba Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo (MLC) rebel group during preparatory talks for the inter-Congolese dialogue that were held last week in Gaborone, Botswana, Gabonese Africa No 1 radio reported Friday. Roger Mimi, a lawyer and member of the MLC, noted that "with what has been happening over the past three years [in the DRC], particularly with the war and the blood crimes that have been carried out, impunity cannot continue. There is a need, at the national and international levels, for war crime suspects to be pursued, made to appear in court, and tried for their actions." Mimi further suggested that all candidates for future DRC government posts first be screened for "good conduct" before assuming any public role. "One cannot recommend people who are capable of becoming war crimes suspects for appointment to management posts in the various state organs. They must clear themselves of all disputes with the national or international community," Mimi said.
DRC: Rebel leader defies Museveni's call for reconciliation
Congolese dissident leader of the Front pour la liberation du Congo (FLC) rebel movement Mbusa Nyamwisi has reportedly defied orders of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and has returned to the DRC, according to Ugandan newspaper The Monitor on Monday. The Monitor cited sources as saying that Nyamwisi returned to the DRC on Friday despite Museveni's directions that wrangling Ugandan-backed rebel leaders remain in Kampala to resolve their differences at a meeting held on 15 August. Museveni had summoned the rebel leaders after Nyamwisi, who was the FLC's prime minister, announced two weeks ago that he had toppled two weeks ago both RCD-Kisangani led by Ernest Wamba Dia Wamba and FLC led by Jean-Pierre Bemba and claimed control of the northeastern DRC areas of Beni and Butembo.
RCD-Kisangani spokesman and son of Wamba dia Wamba, Andre Wamba, confirmed to The Monitor Nyamwisi's departure to DRC. "He [Nyamwisi] is just a warlord. I feel pity for the people of Butembo and Beni, they may be left behind," Andre Wamba told The Monitor, noting that his father accused Nyamwisi of diverting from the cause of peace for the Congolese in seeking to control mineral-rich areas. "For Nyamwisi it's about natural resources, not peace for the Congolese," Andre Wamba said.
DRC: Namibia to redeploy troops if peace attempt fails
In a joint communique issued Thursday by Namibian President Sam Nujoma and DRC President Joseph Kabila at the end of a three-day visit by Kabila to Namibia, Nujoma reportedly stated that although withdrawal of Namibian troops has begun in compliance with the agreed timetable, Namibia remains ready to continue to assist "in the event of any failure" by the UN and the international community, The Namibian newspaper said on Friday.
Both heads of state condemned repeated violations by Uganda, Rwanda and rebel groups backed by them of the Lusaka peace agreement and of UN Security Council resolutions on the DRC, according to DRC government-controlled RTNC radio in Kinshasa on Friday. They hailed last week's preparatory meeting leading to the start on 15 October in Addis Ababa of the inter-Congolese dialogue that will lead to an eventual constitution and elections. Both Presidents called on the UN to accelerate the completion of Phase II of its mission in the DRC (MONUC) and to start, "as a matter of urgency" with Phase III deployment of an effective UN peacekeeping force. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit the DRC beginning on 3 September, during which time he will meet with Kabila.
DRC: Museveni meets UN team probing resource plunder
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met Friday evening at State House in Kampala with the reconstituted UN panel on the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the DRC, Radio Uganda reported Saturday. The panel was in Uganda to follow up on the work of a previous panel, whose report earlier this year implicated Museveni and other high-ranking Ugandan officials in the plunder-for-profit of DRC's wide array of resources in areas of the DRC controlled by Ugandan-backed rebels. Museveni expressed his sharp criticism of the original report and urged the panel to rectify what he saw as its shortcomings in an addendum to the original report due to be submitted to the UN Security Council in October.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Defence minister sacked
The Central African Republic's (CAR) defence minister, Jean-Jacques Demafouth, was sacked at the weekend after being accused of involvement in the foiled coup against President Ange-Felix Patasse in May, AFP quoted a presidential spokesman as saying. He is accused of "having played a role in recent events". The dismissal was announced on state radio and he was reportedly "put at the disposal of the law". The country's prime minister, Martin Ziguele, has been named to temporarily head the defence ministry. Demafouth, who is a member of the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Central African People (MLPC), had given testimony at a panel of inquiry set up to investigate the coup. Three other government members gave statements to the panel: interior and public security minister Theodore Biko, secretary of state for the interior ministry, Robert Zana, and secretary of state for disarmament and a close associate of Patasse, Michel Doyene. The panel's membership comprised of gendarmes, officers and investigative police, was set up on 8 June and has three months to carry out the investigation. Since its creation, more than 100 civilians and military personnel have been placed in detention, AFP added.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Kolingba's wife, children abducted from French embassy
Unidentified group of people reportedly entered the French embassy in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) and abducted wife and children of the former president and alleged May coup attempt plotter, Andre Kolingba, and took them to an unknown destination, Radio France internationale (RFI) reported on Saturday. Kolingba's family members and other people had sought refuge at the embassy since the abortive coup on 28 May. The French foreign ministry confirmed the kidnap information, RFI said.
RWANDA: Kagame opens international trade fair
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame on Friday said that his government was committed to a policy of liberalisation which aims to open up the country's market competition, a statement from his press office said. "We see the function of government as being one of laying down policies that protect the interests of everyone, the manufacturers, the traders and the consumer," Kagame said as he officially opened the fourth international trade fair at the country's Amahoro stadium in Kigali. He also called upon the financial sector to work to provide the financial resources required for the private sector to develop. He pledged government support for the private sector, particularly with regards to the infrastructure. He said the private sector should take advantage of the large Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) market, adding that the government was also seeking membership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). The trade fair brought together exhibitors from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, South Africa and Egypt mainly from the manufacturing, agricultural, construction and service sectors.
RWANDA: Government pledges support for constitutional making
The government of Rwanda has said it would give all the necessary support needed to the constitutional commission in its activities, Rwandan radio reported at the weekend. It quoted the country's justice minister Jean-de-Dieu Mucyo as saying at the close of a week-long forum on constitutional making. He said that Rwanda has not had an "all-encompassing constitution for about 40 years and therefore it is time for Rwandans to contribute there own constitution". The commission had invited constitutional experts from all over the world so that they could draw experiences in countries with similar backgrounds. The countries invited included Mali, South Africa, Uganda, the US, Ghana, Zambia, Benin, Burundi, Eritrea and Nigeria. It was jointly organised by the commission, the US embassy in Kigali and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
RWANDA: Ugandan army captures Hutu rebels
Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) has captured 20 Rwandan rebel militia in combat on the Gihara border, the government-owned 'New Vision' newspaper reported. It quoted the army's second division spokesman Lieutenant Milton Katarinyeba as saying that these Interahamwe prisoners of war would be handed over to the Kigali administration. "But we are still consulting with our national legal experts on how to go about their extradition," he said. Some of the captured rebels claim to be high-ranking officials, he said, but declined to say where they were being held.
BURUNDI: Ex-army officer elected leader of new party
Former army officer Colonel Epitace Bayaganakandi who was unanimously elected to lead the new party, the Resistance Movement for the Rehabilitation of the Citizen, formally appended his signature of acceptance on Friday, the local Bonesha radio said. In a short speech to close to 300 members and sympathisers of the new party, he stressed the need for Burundians to come together and resist. "Resist for the sake of national sovereignty, resist for peaceful cohabitation, resist so that in state governance, there is greater balance in the running of the institutions and finally give hope to the youth, particularly our youth who are now discouraged," he said. He said that he believed that the movement could now enable them to effectively fight against extermination, genocide and what was signed in Arusha on 23 July. "To reject the disbanding of the army because we fear that they might be disbanded," he added.
Bayaganakandi said their resistance was political in nature and peaceful. On whether the movement will work with the transitional government, he said the issue of participating or not in the institutions on the part of signatories was a "right". "Participation is a right for the signatories. "Secondly, we are creating this movement so that we can decide whether we should join or not, depending on the objectives of the movement. Therefore, for now I cannot give you an answer," he told Bonesha.
Nairobi, 27 August 2001
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