IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 33 covering the period 12-18 Aug 2000
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DRC: Lusaka summit ends in failure
The meeting of signatories to the Lusaka peace accord ended in failure in the Zambian capital after a mammoth session on Monday that extended well into the night. DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila attended the meeting, but refused to budge over his refusal to accept former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire as facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue and to allow UN peacekeepers unhindered access throughout DRC territory. "President Kabila has refused to listen or discuss the matter," Zimbabwean President and Kabila's main ally, Robert Mugabe, was quoted as saying. "He says he does not want Sir Ketumile Masire - period." Kabila then left Lusaka for home. According to a communique issued after the meeting, leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) appealed to Kabila to reconsider. The communique noted that all SADC countries, with the exception of the DRC, had endorsed Masire as the facilitator.
DRC: Kabila proposes alternative facilitators
The DRC government remained adamant in its rejection of former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire as facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue. At the Lusaka summit earlier this week, President Laurent-Desire Kabila put forward four other names, which were rejected by the other participants in the meeting. "We think the imposition [of a facilitator] and rejection of our choices were a conspiracy by the leaders," the press attaché at the DRC embassy in Nairobi, Mubima Maneniang Milang, said on Thursday. "What we do not want is someone being imposed on us." He told IRIN Kabila had put forward the names of former South African president F.W de Klerk, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, former ANC secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa and ex-Senegalese president Abdou Diof as possible alternative candidates.
DRC: Annan recommends a month extension of MONUC
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended a one-month extension of the UN mission in DRC (MONUC). In a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday, he said the mission - whose current mandate expires on 24 August - should be extended until 30 September to allow enough time to discuss the impact of latest developments in the country. Thereafter the appropriate recommendations could be formulated. Annan noted that an "adverse climate" in the DRC had so far prevented the full deployment of MONUC in accordance with UN resolutions. A "sustained campaign of vilification" against MONUC and individual staff members had created significant security risks, and severe restrictions imposed by the DRC authorities had limited MONUC's freedom of movement, Annan said. He added that the Lusaka peace process was going through an "extremely challenging phase" and required substantial re-evaluation, not only on the part of the signatories, but also of the UN. The role MONUC would play in the current circumstances remained unclear, he said.
BURUNDI: Senior army officer killed
A senior Burundian army officer was killed on Wednesday by suspected rebels, Burundi radio reported on Thursday. Colonel Balthazar Nzeyimana, who was commander of Burundi's fourth military region, was killed in a rocket attack on his vehicle, along with two members of his escort in northeastern Burundi, the radio said. He was travelling between Kigamba and the Ruvubu river bridge, about 10 km from the Tanzanian border. Meanwhile the French news agency AFP reported that on Tuesday, rebels attacked Kabezi town, 13 km south of Bujumbura. Local officials said a three-hour gunbattle ensued, but no deaths were reported.
BURUNDI: Buyoya in South Africa to discuss "new methodology"
Burundian President Pierre Buyoya on Monday left for South Africa for consultations with the peace process facilitator Nelson Mandela, Burundi's Umwizero radio reported. The radio noted that the meeting comes within the framework searching for a "new methodology" on how to resolve issues on which no consensus has yet been reached. "When I returned from my recent trip to South Africa, I had said I discussed with the mediator on how to put in place a new methodology that could help handle items still being debated, with a view to reaching the peace accord in the shortest time possible," Buyoya said. Other personalities who arrived in South Africa include Jean Minani of the external wing of FRODEBU, Leonard Nyangoma of the rebel CNDD, former presidents Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and Jean-Baptiste Bagaza who leads the radical Tutsi PARENA party.
RWANDA: Government wants genocide orphans back
The Rwandan government has appealed for international help to secure the return of an estimated 30,000 children who were flown out of the country during the 1994 genocide. Some of the children taken by charity organisations have since been adopted in European countries such as Italy, Belgium and France, as well as neighbouring African countries. "The issue of children that left the country during the bad days of the 1994 genocide needs to be sorted out," the minister of state for social affairs, Odette Nyiramirimo, told IRIN. "These children were adopted in foreign countries under unclear circumstances. Some of them have parents who want to know their whereabouts. In case of adoption, the laws of this country demand that the parents and government be involved."
SOMALIA: National Assembly holds session
The Somali Transitional National Assembly (TNA) held its first meeting in Djibouti on Monday, chaired by General Mohamed Abshire Muse. Under the new Somalia Charter, the TNA is to be chaired by the eldest member of the parliament until an assembly speaker is successfully elected, sources in Djibouti told IRIN. General Abshire, a 74 year-old former police chief from northeast Somalia, is a factional rival of Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, leader of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, who has rejected the process.
SOMALIA: Security Council warns warlords
Members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday welcomed the formation of the new Somali parliament and strongly urged all Somali political forces to support the Djibouti-hosted peace process. In closed-door consultations, warlords and faction leaders were issued with a reminder that "obstructing and undermining the efforts to achieve an overall settlement in Somalia would not be acceptable", Council President, Ambassador Agam Hasmy of Malaysia, said in a statement to the press. He said that Council members urged the warlords to support the National Assembly. The Council welcomed the decision to reserve seats in the newly constituted assembly for women representatives, in recognition of their constructive role in nation-building.
SUDAN: UN lifts flight ban
All humanitarian relief flights were due to resume throughout Sudan this week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday. UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the flight suspension, imposed on 8 August, had been lifted after the Secretary-General was reassured by President Omar el-Bashir of Sudan that "all measures" were being put in place to ensure the safety of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) relief personnel and aircraft. "The Secretary-General trusts that the Government of Sudan and other parties to the conflict will continue to fully honour their commitment to ensure the safety and security of relief workers," the spokesman told reporters in New York. He said the warring parties must also protect "the vulnerable populations whose urgent needs UN humanitarian personnel are trying to address throughout the country".
SUDAN: Eastern Equatoria bombed
Ikotos town in eastern Equatoria, southern Sudan, was bombed on Monday, according to the NGO Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). Spokesman Kristen Flogstad told IRIN he confirmed by radio that one bomb was dropped in Ikotos, where the organisation has a relief base. Six bombs were also dropped on Monday on Palotaka, about 15 km from Parajok, eastern Equatoria, the spokesman added. Flogstad said it was the first time Ikotos, southeast of the regional capital Torit, had been bombed since last September. "It's a way of spreading terror", he said. During a bombing campaign last year, civilians fled to the nearby mountains and aid workers built bomb shelters, he told IRIN.
HORN OF AFRICA: UN says "massive and continued" assistance necessary
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan are named as among the worst-affected countries in an FAO list of 16 sub-Saharan African countries facing exceptional food emergencies - making the Horn of Africa the hardest hit region on the continent. The August issue of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Food Supply and Crop Prospect report said continuing drought had undermined food production in vast areas of eastern Africa, but also blamed war and civil strife. "Large numbers of people will need massive and continued emergency assistance" into next year, the report said.
EAST AFRICA: Nearly 20 million facing severe food shortages
In East Africa, nearly 20 million people are facing "severe" food shortages, the FAO report said. The number has gone up by three million since April. The continuing drought has undermined food production in vast areas of eastern Africa. It also blames war and civil strife for severely limiting farming activities in many areas.
ZANZIBAR: Army explains deployment in Zanzibar
The Department of Defence and the National Defence Forces have clarified arrangements being made to dispatch members of the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) to Zanzibar, Tanzanian radio reported on Tuesday. In a statement, the army said that the move was in line with "their constitutional responsibility" to improve security and peace in the country during the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in slated for October. The statement further said that the army had increased its forces and equipment in order to fulfill this obligation. The department denied reports by the opposition parties that the army was taken to Zanzibar to "increase the number of voters" to help one of the parties win the elections. It said that the army was not involved in helping or harassing any political party, and that it would provide security for all irrespective of political affiliation or belief.
Nairobi, 18 August 2000
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