Burundi + 9 more

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 52 covering the period 25-30 Dec 1999

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
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e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

BURUNDI: Army rejects separate negotiations with CNDD-FDD

Army spokesman Colonel Login Minani said on Wednesday there was no question of bilateral negotiations with Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, leader of the rebel Conseil national pour la dÚfense de la democratie - Forces pour la dÚfense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD), outside the framework of the Burundi peace talks in Arusha. Minani said that if Ndayikengurukiye rejected the Arusha talks and former South African president Nelson Mandela as their mediator then "he was opting for war and not peace," Net Press news agency reported.

Ndayikenurukiye had said on Tuesday he wanted direct talks with the government and the army instead of the planned 18-month peace process, and that he would continue to boycott the Arusha talks, despite Mandela's appointment as mediator. Ndayikenurukiye also said the CNDD-FDD would not consider a ceasefire until government regroupment camps, which he described as "Nazi-style concentration camps", had been dismantled.

BURUNDI: Security protocol to allow UN to fully resume activities

A security protocol between the government and the UN is expected to be finalised this week, allowing UN agencies to fully resume humanitarian activities that were severely curtailed in the wake of the murder of nine people, including two UN staff, in October, OCHA stated in a report on Friday. The protocol would include the establishment of UN and government security cells "to allow the organisation of missions in the country and the use of armed escorts for missions outside the capital (Bujumbura)," the report added.

DRC: Concern at JMC proviso on relief activities

Humanitarian observers have expressed concern at provisions by the Joint Military Commission (JMC) established to implement the Lusaka ceasefire agreement that it should authorise humanitarian activities in the country. This provision raised serious concerns among relief agencies and was in contradiction of the agreed Principles of Engagement for Emergency Humanitarian Assistance in the DRC, humanitarian sources told IRIN.

DRC: Wamba sacks Ituri governor

Leader of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie - Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has sacked the governor of Ituri province based in Bunia, Lotsove Adele, the Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper reported. In a letter circulated among the Congolese rebel groups after recent 'unity talks' in southwest Uganda, Wamba accused Adele of insubordination and sabotage of his development efforts. Adele, who had been appointed governor of Ituri by Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) Chief of Staff and former commander in the DRC, Brigadier James Kazini, was reported to have been taken on by Jean-Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) as secretary for social affairs after her dismissal by Wamba.

DRC: Kinshasa calls for UN action on alleged massacre

The Kinshasa government's ambassador to the UN, Andre Mwamba Kapanga, has formally complained to the UN Security Council about the alleged massacre of 15 Congolese women by Rwandan troops in "the occupied eastern territory of the DRC" between 15 and 22 November. In a letter to the Security Council, Kapanga said Rwandan troops buried alive 13 named and two unnamed women in the villages of Bulinzi, Bongombe and Ngando, in Mwenga District, South Kivu. Media reports have linked the alleged massacre to the women's supposed collaboration with Mayi-Mayi militias, who are in conflict with Rwandan forces and their Congolese rebel allies in eastern DRC.

DRC: Rebel factions to investigate Lumbu Lumbu 'disappearance'

The RCD-ML of Wamba dia Wamba and the Mouvement de liberation du congo (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba have agreed to establish a commission of inquiry into the 'disappearance' and reported death in North Kivu, after his release from RCD-ML and Ugandan army custody, of civil society activist Desire Lumbu Lumbu. The rebel groups had agreed to establish a "mixed and neutral commission of inquiry" under the aegis of two civil society leaders, and Wamba had agreed to sanction anyone found responsible for Lumbu Lumbu's 'disappearance', according to an MLC statement received by IRIN. The reported death of Lumbu Lumbu on 11 December was deplored by human rights watchdog Amnesty International, which said he had been severely tortured during his detention for commenting on the social and political crisis in North Kivu.

RWANDA: Returnee flow from eastern DRC continues

Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC were continuing to return to Rwanda, mainly from the Masisi and Rutshuru areas, at the rate of 300 to 500 persons a week, an OCHA report on affected populations stated on Friday. So far, some 30,000 people have returned from the DRC, it said, adding that the total affected population requiring humanitarian relief stood at 319,325 as of December 1999. That figure comprised an estimated displaced population of 150,000, including 60,000 people recently relocated to Gisenyi and 90,000 to Ruhengeri, as well 6,000 unaccompanied children. It also included 130,000 detainees and a refugee population of 33,325 (the vast majority from DRC), the agency stated.

RWANDA: Interahamwe militia strikes in Gisenyi

A Hutu Interahamwe force on Thursday 23 December crossed from the DRC and attacked Tamira camp in Mutura Commune, Gisenyi Prefecture, leaving 20 people dead and eight injured, Radio Rwanda reported at the weekend. After the attack, the militia retreated to the DRC with the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in pursuit, the report said. Military officials cited by Radio Rwanda described it as "an isolated but unfortunate incident given that such raids have not been heard of in the country for the past year and a half." A group calling itself the Armee de Liberation du Rwanda (ALIR) on Saturday denied that the attack had targeted civilians, claiming instead that its militia had occupied and ransacked Bigogwe military camp, killing Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers and seizing arms and ammunition.

GREAT LAKES: Displacement surge in affected populations

The affected population requiring humanitarian assistance in the Great Lakes region rose from 3.9 million to 4.3 million between August and December 1999 - a rise of 9 percent, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated in its latest report. While the number of refugees was down from 1,042,048 in August to 933,894 in December (largely because of corrected figures from a re-registration exercise in Tanzania and the repatriation from DRC of Republic of Congo citizens), the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) rose by 17 percent in the same period, the report stated.

The most dramatic increase in IDP numbers was in the Republic of Congo, where displaced people numbered 331,625 in August but 801,000, or one-third of the entire population, by December. In DRC, the number of IDPs increased by 21 percent, which OCHA termed "unacceptably high, particularly when the belligerents have signed a ceasefire agreement." IDP numbers increased by 28 percent in Burundi between August and December amid significantly increased levels of confrontation between the government and rebel forces, the report stated.

TANZANIA: New camp for Burundian refugees

A reduced flow of refugees from Burundi during the first half of December was countered by a dramatic increase once again on 18 and 19 December when 2,380 refugees arrived in two days, OCHA reported. The latest arrivals, said to be in good physical condition, said the reasons for their flight were the Burundi government's forcible recruitment of young men and women to fight the country's rebels and, on the other hand, the rebels' telling civilians to flee to Tanzania, the report added. Due to the saturation of existing refugee camps, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 22 December opened a new camp at Karago, Kigoma region, to receive new arrivals from Burundi, OCHA stated.

UGANDA: UPDF claims successes in campaign against ADF

Minister of State for Defence Steven Kavuma on Tuesday claimed the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) had dominated recent battles against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the west of the country, denying the rebels their bases in the Rwenzori Mountains and eastern DRC. Kavuma said the army had killed over 80 "bandits" and captured 64 in its ongoing operation against the ADF in Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kasese districts, Radio Uganda reported. Yet, 12 people were reported killed in a Christmas Eve raid by the ADF on Hakiitara village in Bundibugyo District, western Uganda, the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Monday. Suspected ADF rebels also killed two people and injured two others in an attack on Kiboota, Buheesi sub-county, Kabarole District, on Christmas Day, the paper added.

UGANDA: Army battles LRA in the north

The Ugandan army has admitted injuries to some 10 soldiers in an ambush rebel by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) at Palukere, Atiak sub-county, on Sunday and claimed to have killed four rebels, but denied earlier reports that up to 14 UPDF soldiers may have died in another battle with LRA forces at Amuru (Kilak) and Pakele (Adjumani), northeastern Uganda, news organisations reported on Wednesday. Two hundred or more LRA rebels had entered northern Uganda from bases in southern Sudan last week, and then split into two groups heading for Kitgum and Gulu, Radio Uganda reported. Despite UPDF denials, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported several clashes between army and rebel forces in the countryside around Gulu town, Palaro and Atiak.

UGANDA: Sudan says reconciliation pact still holds

President Yoweri Museveni spoke this week to Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir who had reaffirmed his support for a Ugandan-Sudanese pact signed in Nairobi on 9 December, which was aimed at ending the support of each country for rebel groups in the other, Reuters reported on Wednesday. "Bashir explained that the crossing of the LRA came at a time when he was preoccupied with [former Speaker of Parliament Hassan al] Turabi and was not paying attention to the rebel issue," it quoted Museveni's press secretary Hope Kivengere as saying.

SUDAN: Ruling party considers leadership crisis

The ruling National Congress Party on Monday reported a breakthrough in reconciling the political feud between President Omar al-Bashir and his political rival Turabi that led to Bashir declaring a state of emergency and the dissolution of parliament on 12 December - just before a parliamentary vote was due on whether or not to curb his presidential powers. The party's national consultative council decided that Bashir should stay on as party chairman and Turabi, as secretary-general, recommended that the dissolution of parliament should be referred to the Constitutional Court, and called for the state of emergency to be lifted "as soon as possible", Associated Press reported.

SUDAN: Reconciliation deal said to favour Bashir

The party also decided to reform its executive body - the Leadership Authority, currently chaired by Turabi - to allow more of Bashir's supporters to join, in what has been perceived as a move to shift the balance of power in Bashir's favour and further marginalise Turabi, AFP stated. Information Minister Ghazi Salah Ettin Atabani, quoted by AFP, said the leadership crisis that gave rise to the state of emergency had passed and it would be lifted "in due course." About a dozen members of parliament on Tuesday petitioned the Constitutional Court to annul Bashir's 12 December decree. Bashir had earlier announced that all political parties, both associated (pro-government) and non-associated (opposition), were free to operate, news media reported.

SUDAN: Political changes may favour IGAD peace talks

The Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) promised Sudanese deputy president and Southern States Coordination Council chairman Riek Machar at a recent meeting in Uganda to study the current political situation in the light of recent decisions by President Bashir that have "resulted in openness in Sudan's political relations with the opposition and neighbouring countries," the Sudanese newspaper 'Al-Ra'y al-Amm' reported at the weekend. Machar, who has also met Kenyan government and members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediating peace talks between Khartoum and the SPLA/M, said the recent political developments in Sudan raised hopes for the success of the next round of IGAD talks proposed for 15 January in Nairobi, the paper added.

SOMALIA: Gunmen occupy Mogadishu port

Heavily armed gunmen believed to be loyal to Jama Mohamed Furuh - a commander in Hussein Aideed's militia - on Wednesday took control of Mogadishu port, prompting local people to flee the area, AFP reported on Wednesday. Furuh, head of security at the port before its closure in 1995 following disputes among faction leaders over revenue-sharing, was opposed to an agreement by five leading Mogadishu warlords, including Aideed, last week under which it was planned to open the port and Mogadishu airport. Furuh (and another of Aideed's commanders, Abdulkarim Mohamed Frabadne) also called on Aideed to stand down, accusing him of making decisions without consulting his allies in the United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA), the agency added.

SOMALIA: Warlords agree on joint Mogadishu administration

The five warlords - Hussein Aideed, Hussein Haji Bod, Osman Hassan Ali 'Atto', Mohamed Qanyare Afrah and Ali Mahdi Mohamed - resolved on 21 December to join forces in establishing a joint authority to administer Mogadishu as a first step towards forming a national government for Somalia. The new administration would run Mogadishu's port and the airport, and "after fulfilling the first part of the agreement, the leaders will proceed to discuss the formation of a national government through reconciliation with other factions in Somalia," AFP reported. The warlord Musa Sudi Yalahow, who also controlled parts of Mogadishu, refused to join the new administration because some of those involved belonged to clans that were not indigenous to Mogadishu, the report added.

SOMALIA-DJIBOUTI: Hargeisa, Djibouti authorities to reopen border

Somaliland and Djibouti have reached an agreement to reopen their shared border after a two-day meeting in Djibouti between officials from the two, the Somali 'Jamhuuriya' newspaper reported on Wednesday. The paper quoted a Somaliland representative to Djibouti, Umar Dere, as saying the two

sides had agreed to normalise relations, reopen their common border and "hammer out grey areas in their relations". In regard to the proposed Somali national reconciliation conference to be hosted by the Djibouti government, the Somaliland delegation said it could not participate in a "conference of rival Somali factions" but expressed Hargeisa's readiness to give advice and support.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: EU appoints peace envoy

The European Union has appointed a special representative to provide full support to Organisation of African Unity (OAU) efforts to find a solution to the Ethiopia-Eritrean conflict. The Ethiopian Walta Information Centre (WIC) quoted Finnish charge d'affaires Heli Sirve as saying Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Rino Serri had been appointed to the position. Sirve said the appointment reflected "the earnest wish of EU member countries to play a more active supportive role for the OAU-led peace process, as well as to have a first-hand information about the peace process".

CAR: Media watchdog laments Patasse threat

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) on Thursday expressed concern at a number of recent statements by the President of the Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse, which appeared to "threaten the press." RSF Secretary-General Robert Menard said the president had confirmed that, as of 1 January 2000, "measures will be taken against the press, which has a tendency to incite rebellion, tribal war and hatred." These statements came at a time when newspapers in Bangui have been denouncing the 17 November assassination of two soldiers in Kembe east of Bangui, in which members of the presidential guard appeared to be implicated, an RSF statement added.

Nairobi, 30 December 1999, 12:30 gmt

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