IRIN Update No. 427 for Central and Eastern Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Update No. 427 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday, 1 June 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army launches major offensive against rebels
DRC military officials on Saturday announced the launch of "large-scale operations" against Mayi-Mayi rebels, supported by ex-soldiers from neighbouring countries. The announcement was broadcast over DRC television by "directeur de cabinet" in the defence ministry Major Kokolo and Major Kanou of the 10th Brigade who is in charge of military operations in eastern DRC. They said over 500 rebels had recently surrendered. According to Kanou, the Mayi-Mayi were working together with ex-FAR and Interahamwe militiamen from Rwanda, and Ugandan rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). He said the DRC army had launched operations along the DRC-Rwanda border to flush out the rebels from camps in the Miguelo, Karisimbi and Soke volcanoes. "The results were positive," he said.
Security chief arrested in Kinshasa
Military police in Kinshasa arrested a security service chief on Friday for blocking roads in his neighbourhood, Reuters reported. It quoted military sources as saying Shaban Sikatendi's home in Kinshasa's Mbinza district was surrounded by troops after he reportedly blocked the roads around his house, depriving neighbours of the right to move around freely.
Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo who was visiting family in the district was allegedly harassed.
Tanzania to train prison staff
Tanzania is to train DRC prison staff, after an agreement to that effect was signed in Dar es Salaam last week. According to Reuters, a Tanzanian government statement said two senior prison officials would soon visit the former Zaire on an assessment mission. They would make recommendations and launch a training programme.
BURUNDI: Buyoya dismisses possibility of foreign invasion
President Pierre Buyoya has dismissed rumours that the new partnership between the government and parliament would incite neighbouring countries to attack Burundi. Radio Burundi on Saturday quoted him as saying any country "with hegemonic ambitions" would be "firmly dealt with because Burundi has enough means to ensure its defence". Meanwhile, the opposition FRODEBU party on Saturday expressed its support for the institutional partnership. According to the radio, a FRODEBU statement "recognised the urgent need to work towards the restoration of peace and reconciliation".
Bishops urge success of dialogue
A joint statement by Catholic bishops in Burundi said steps had been made towards improving security, repatriating Burundians and in reconstruction. However, the situation was still worrying, the statement said. The bishops urged Burundians to work together to make dialogue a success, rather than resorting to violence and injustice.
RWANDA: Donors expected to release funds for economic revival
The government has said it is looking for donors to supply around US $767 million over the next three years to finance economic reforms and rebuild the economy, Reuters reported. It said Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka told a news conference in Kigali on Friday he was optimistic about a meeting between the government and donors tomorrow (Tuesday) in the Swedish capital Stockholm. He said the government was expecting US $367 million from donors for economic reforms which form the basis of a proposed IMF Enhanced Structual Adjustment Facility (ESAF) loan. But the government was also seeking a further US $400 million to cope with the continuing effects of the 1994 genocide. Kaberuka said money was needed for social spending, a genocide survivors' fund, reintegrating demobilised soldiers and returning refugees and to rebuilt the civil service.
GREAT LAKES: EU ministers to visit region and assess "misunderstandings"
The EU is to send a trio of junior ministers to assess "misunderstandings" in the relationship between traditional allies in the Great Lakes region, Reuters reported. The ministerial troika, accompanied by the EU's special envoy to the region Aldo Ajello, will travel from 2-4 June to meet DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni. The visit will also cover Rwanda and Burundi ahead of the Burundi peace talks due to start in Arusha on 15 June. The team, led by Tony Lloyd, Britain's junior foreign minister responsible for Africa, will include ministers from Luxembourg and Austria.
SUDAN: Peace more important than relief - Turabi
Finding an end to Sudan's civil war is more important than carrying out relief operations in the famine-threatened south, Sudan's powerful parliamentary speaker Hassan al-Turabi was reported by the local press as saying on Sunday. "The real humanitarian aid for the people affected by the war in south Sudan is to bolster efforts for ending the war and achieving peace," Turabi told visiting US Congressman Tony Hall. "Emphasis on humanitarian assistance is useless so long as there are foreign circles that fan the war and hinder the peace efforts," he added. Turabi said that most of the relief funds are going on administrative costs, and would be better spent on infrastructural projects and development programmes.
Congressman shocked by conditions in south
Tony Hall, a Democrat Congressman from Ohio, left Sudan for Kenya on Sunday after a four-day visit. In Nairobi, he said he was shocked at what he had seen and called on the United States to take action to relieve conditions in the south, AFP reported. "If the United States is truly sorry for doing too little to stop Rwanda's atrocities, we should act now to stop Sudan's," he said. Hall said he saw thousands of people forced into mosquito-infested swamps in Bahr al-Ghazal state to flee marauding raiders. "I felt numb as I walked over the bodies and skeletons (of people killed by the raiders)," Hall said.
Women prisoners released from disease-ridden jail
Sixteen babies have died in the women's prison in Omdurman, Sudan's twin capital, prompting the release of 827 women from the disease-ridden jail, AFP reported the local press as saying on Thursday. The daily 'Al-Gamhouria' reported that the mortality rate among infants in the prison had been one or two each day after an outbreak of disease causing diarrhoea and other symptoms in the overcrowded jail. The women had been jailed for drinking or brewing alcohol. The infants either accompanied them into prison or were born inside the jail. The paper said the prison's planned capacity was 200 inmates.
ANGOLA: UNITA ignores deadline on handing back territory to government
UNITA has ignored yet another key deadline in the implementation of the Angolan peace process, the BBC reported. The former rebel movement had been given until midnight on 31 May to hand over towns under its control. Less than an hour before the deadline, a delegation arrived in Luanda from UNITA headquarters in central Angola with fresh proposals for restoring momentum to the peace process. The delegation went into talks with the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye. According to the BBC's correspondent in Luanda, it is probable that UNITA has proposed new dates for a phased handover of the remaining key towns under its control.
After a six-hour meeting on Saturday with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, Beye said the movement was refusing to make concessions on the handover of territory. A UNITA spokesman told the BBC that it accepted the handover in principle, but wanted the issue of human rights abuses by the national police dealt with first. Introducing a peace plan late last month, the UN envoy threatened to resign and recommend economic sanctions against UNITA if it failed to comply with the accords.
UNITA says Beye's peace plan "doomed"
UNITA statement released in Washington on Wednesday said Beye's efforts to win UNITA compliance "is doomed to failure." According to the statement, posted on UNITA's website, Beye's plan departs from the premise of military concessions from UNITA in exchange for political concessions by the government. The statement claimed that Beye, "is ordering UNITA to turn over the few remaining areas under its control, where its supporters have taken refuge from government-sponsored carnage, without offering guarantees of safety and security for these people."
Nairobi, 1 June 1998, 13:25 gmt
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