Burundi + 7 more

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 51 covering the period 18-24 Dec 1999

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DRC: UN calls for restraint, especially in South Kivu

The UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to call on the parties to the Lusaka agreement to "refrain from initiating or pursuing offensives, and to do everything possible to prevent outbreaks of violence, especially in South Kivu." He said that the parties should also refrain from "hostile propaganda and bellicose statements," and permit access by humanitarian organisations to affected populations. Annabi said the particular concern in South Kivu was that the Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge could trigger "large-scale organised attacks" against Tutsis if it responded to current threats with violent actions against its neighbours.

DRC: Thousands displaced as tribal clashes resume in Ituri

Ethnic clashes between the Lendu and Hema people in Ituri district of eastern DRC have broken out again in the past fortnight, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, the regional head of the ICRC Philip Spoerri told IRIN on Tuesday. Fighting broke out again in mid-December after mediation efforts had brought about a temporary lull in November, Spoerri said. The current clashes were at their most intense around Djugu, and had sent 20,000 to 30,000 displaced people towards nearby towns, particularly Bunia, for shelter, he said.

DRC: US admits "dragging its heels" on Congo

The future of the United Nations would be determined by its handling of the DRC conflict in the coming months and that explained the US "dragging its heels" on support for a peacekeeping force, US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke stated this week. Some of the conditions of the Lusaka agreement had not been fulfilled by its signatories and Washington did not intend to "hand over a blank cheque" to the UN peacekeeping department when details of a possible peacekeeping missions, and its cost, had not been worked out, Holbrooke said.

DRC: Rebels hail cooperation agreement

A senior official of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Bizima Karaha, has described the Kabale agreement to form a united rebel front against President Laurent-Desire Kabila as "extremely important". The RCD, the RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) and the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) rebels agreed to set up two working commissions, one on political and diplomatic issues and another on military concerns, but not to unite as one movement, news media reported. "It will also help the non-armed opposition to join us and ... we shall make a very big, positive impact in the Congo," Karaha told Rwandan radio on Tuesday. "Hopefully, we think that through the national dialogue...we will be in a position to find the principle for legitimacy and we will be able to set up a new political order," RCD-ML leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba added.

DRC: Danger of acute malaria outbreak in Kinshasa

The international medical agency Merlin on Monday warned of the danger of an acute malaria outbreak in Kinshasa resulting from the flooding of low-lying areas by the River Congo. "The Congo often bursts its banks, but this flooding is already the worst on record. Malaria isn't new to Kinshasa either - it's endemic there - but this deadly combination means the city could be facing an acute outbreak," said Linda Doull, medical adviser for Merlin's DRC programme. Half a million people are estimated to have been affected so far by the Congo Basin flooding.

DRC-UGANDA: Kabila and Museveni sign "normalising accord"

Presidents Laurent-Desire Kabila and Yoweri Museveni have signed a "normalising accord" at a mini-summit hosted by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, news organisations reported on Thursday. Eritrean and Sudanese Presidents Isayas Afewerki and Omar al-Bashir were also involved in the Tripoli meeting. Libyan television said the summit was crowned by the signature of accords "allowing the end of differences, the normalisation of relations and the resumption of flights" between Uganda and the DRC. Kabila and Museveni had agreed to "apply international accords to bring an end to civil war in the DRC," it added.

UGANDA: ADF threatens aid convoys

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in western Uganda have threatened to attack relief convoys going to Bundibugyo. In letters to the ICRC and UNHCR, published on Saturday by the independent 'Monitor' daily, the ADF claimed the convoys were ferrying military supplies to the Ugandan army. "Any convoy of humanitarian assistance to Bundibugyo will be attacked whether escorted by uniformed or civilian personnel," the letter stated.

UGANDA: Rebels reported to have killed 90 prisoners

The ADF have killed 90 of 365 prisoners they abducted when they attacked Katojo Prison near Fort Portal in western Uganda last week, the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Ugandan army sources. The Ugandan army had discovered the hacked and decomposing bodies of the deceased on the slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains where the ADF has its bases, the 'New Vision' said. Meanwhile, eight people were killed and six injured when the ADF attacked an army detachment at Bungwa, 4 km outside Bundibugyo, early on Monday morning, news organisations reported. Among the dead and injured were guards of a nearby camp for internally-displaced people (IDPs), the paper added.

UGANDA: Kazini attributes ADF "rampage" to intense army pressure

Ugandan Chief of Staff Brigadier James Kazini said on Wednesday the ADF was "on the rampage" in the past few weeks not because the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) had been lax but because the rebels were under intense pressure from the army. Uganda had no intelligence as to whether Congolese Mayi-Mayi and Rwandan Interahamwe fighters were implicated in recent ADF attacks, Kazini added.

BURUNDI: Food shortages reported in Kirundo and Muyinga

The northern provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga, where rains had "scarcely fallen" for the past three years, along with sections of Cankuzo Province and the lowlands area of Gihanga were among the worst affected by current food shortages, with officials having observed malnutrition and "a certain measure of famine," Radio Burundi reported a senior agriculture ministry official as saying on Monday. Mosso in southeastern Burundi, Imbo in the west and northern areas of Bugesera region were also said to be severely drought-affected.

BURUNDI: Curfew eased in Bujumbura

The government has eased a night curfew in Bujumbura, imposed following a series of rebel attacks on the capital city. The curfew, imposed in August, had been from 10pm to 6am but was now to start at midnight, the BBC reported on Thursday. The government wanted to illustrate that life in the capital could proceed normally despite continuing fighting in the countryside, it added.

BURUNDI: FRODEBU politician shot dead

An opposition FRODEBU member of parliament was shot and killed by soldiers after drinking at a bar in a northern Bujumbura suburb on Monday night, news organisations reported. The Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) said Gabriel Gisabwamana, the MP for Bujumbura's Cibitoke area, was killed after refusing to show his identification papers to security forces on patrol. Army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani said investigations were underway. The MP had been accused by soldiers and neighbours of failing to take part in neighbourhood patrols mounted by the police following intensified rebel attacks, the Associated Press reported.

BURUNDI: Government claims cholera risk eased in western camps

A health and sanitation campaign in civilian regroupment camps in Bujumbura Rural has controlled the risk of a major cholera outbreak, according to the Burundi authorities. At Ruziba camp, just outside Bujumbura city, there had been 300 cases of cholera recorded in the past few weeks but only five deaths, according to health officials quoted by the BBC on Tuesday. Everything was being done to provide clean, chlorinated water and health education in the camps, they added.

RWANDA: Rwigema escapes censure over education funds debacle

Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema has survived a no-confidence motion in parliament over allegations that he misappropriated millions of dollars of World Bank loans earmarked for education projects when he was Minister for Education in 1994. Rwigema survived the motion on a 34-27 vote on Wednesday evening, the BBC reported. Rwigema had argued that the funds were mismanaged during what was a chaotic period in Rwanda following the genocide earlier that year.

RWANDA: Prosecutor says year 2000 crucial for ICTR

Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Carla Del Ponte said in a statement marking her first 100 days in office on Wednesday that "next year will perhaps be the most important year so far for the Rwanda Tribunal." She also vowed to spend "a considerable portion of her time" on Rwanda Tribunal business. Next year she would lead the prosecution of ministers of the former regime in Rwanda herself, a UN press release on Thursday quoted Del Ponte as saying.

TANZANIA: Involvement in Burundi killings again denied

Tanzania has reiterated it was not involved in the Rutana killings in southeast Burundi in October, when seven Burundians and two UN staffers were murdered. A foreign ministry statement, reported by Tanzanian radio on Tuesday, rejected a Burundi government report which stated the names of those responsible for the killings and said they had returned to their bases in Tanzania. "The statement said there are no FDD [Forces pour la defense de la democratie] rebels in Tanzania," the radio reported. "The statement stressed that the Burundi military government had neither proof nor had it communicated with Tanzania regarding the issue."

SUDAN: Bashir-Turabi reconciliation talks cancelled

Proposed reconciliation talks between President Omar al-Bashir and ousted Parliamentary Speaker Hassan al-Turabi - a powerful political rival whom Bashir sidelined when he declared a state of emergency and dissolution of the national assembly last week - have been postponed indefinitely, Information Minister Ghazi Salah Eddine Atabani said on Sunday. Atabani said Bashir would accept mediation but that the state of emergency and dissolution of parliament were irrevocable, and there was "no question of compromise on the fundamental principle, which is that there will be no return to interference by the (National Congress) party in the affairs of state". The ongoing political crisis in Sudan was sparked by Bashir's reassertion of authority on Sunday 12 December by dismissing Turabi as legislative leader and dismantling parliament two days before it was expected to pass a bill introduced by pro-Turabi legislators to reduce Bashir's presidential powers.

SUDAN: Turabi calls emergency National Congress Party meeting

Turabi, who denounced what he called "an assault on the people's constitution" and said "Sudan is now led by an autocratic regime", called on Sunday for an emergency meeting of the consultative council of the National Congress Party for Monday, 27 December. It would have the party "examine the exclusion of Bashir and his supporters if mediation has failed to make the head of state go back on his decision to dissolve parliament", Agence France Press (AFP) reported. Turabi said parliament had also decided to challenge the emergency declaration in the constitutional court.

SUDAN: Humanitarian agencies secure access guarantees

The Sudanese government, SPLM/A and humanitarian agencies have agreed on a set of 'Principles Governing the Protection and Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to War-Affected Civilian Populations' in Sudan. They agreed that agencies accredited by the UN should have "free and unimpeded access" to vulnerable populations. It was also guaranteed that all aid would be distributed "only to targeted civilian beneficiaries" and would not be taxed or diverted from those.

SUDAN: Contaminated water poses health risk in camps

Water and sanitation have become major health problems in Khartoum's camps for displaced people, with some 90 percent of water samples taken from households in Elsalam and Wad El Bashir camps found to "highly contaminated", according to the IFRC. While water sources were found to be clean and fit for human consumption, improper handling of water, poor hygiene and sanitation practices meant that water-borne diseases were a big threat in the camps, which cater for 100,000 and 26,000 people respectively, IFRC reported.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Hardcore militiamen warned to lay down weapons

The Congolese army has warned hardcore militiamen to lay down their arms in order to benefit from a general amnesty, due to take effect on 15 January, PanAfrican News Agency (PANA) reported. It quoted the armed forces head of operations, General Prosper Nkonta Mokono, who said the militiamen were "marginal" and wanted to continue waging war in the regions of Pool, Niari, Bouenza and Lekoumou. He said the surrender of weapons was going well generally, but warned that the army would "crush" those rebels who did not surrender by the due date.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Civilians still caught up in conflict in Pool region

A humanitarian team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited the conflict-affected areas of the southern Pool region on 9 and 10 December - the first time it has been able to travel to these areas since renewed fighting broke out in late December 1998. While the security situation had improved in some parts of the southern Pool region in recent months, civilians are still caught up in the conflict in other parts, the ICRC reported on Thursday, adding that the most urgent needs reflected the complete breakdown of administrative and health services. Insecurity, food shortages and lack of adequate medical care was still forcing hundreds of people a week - most of them malnourished and in urgent need of medical treatment - into the main towns, Kinkala and Boko, in search of assistance, it said. Relief programmes recently established in the towns were "still insufficient to cover the population's needs," ICRC added.

ROC-DRC: UNHCR trying to reach thousands of refugees

A UNHCR team is trying to reach villages in northern Republic of Congo, where thousands of refugees have reportedly fled fighting in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A UNHCR briefing said the team travelled to Impfondo, 1,000 km north of Brazzaville, where some 13,000 DRC refugees are said to be scattered in villages and settlements along a 300 km stretch of the Oubangui river. They were fleeing fighting between DRC troops and rebels around the towns of Bururu and Bomongo. As yet, no boats have been made available to UNHCR staff to verify the numbers further upriver.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: World Bank approves "post-conflict" credit

The World Bank has approved a US $20 million fiscal consolidation credit aimed at helping the country carry out its basic functions in a still fragile post-conflict context. A World Bank news release last week said the immediate objective was the timely payment of wages to government employees and the military. "This should enhance the prospects for sustained civil peace and economic recovery, which will lay the foundations for poverty reduction," the statement said.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Annan proposes consolidation mission

The UN mission MINURCA is due to pull out by 15 February 2000 and the repatriation process is underway. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a multi-disciplinary mission to Bangui last month to discuss setting up a small UN political office after MINURCA's mandate expires. Annan said the primary mission of the new UN office would be to support the government's efforts in consolidating peace and national reconciliation. The proposed 'UN Peace-Building Support Office' (BONUCA) would have an initial mandate of one year and would include a small number of military and civilian police advisers to follow up on security-related reforms and assist in implementing training programmes for the national police.

Nairobi, 24 December 1999, 11:00 gmt

[ENDS]

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