IRIN Update 1018 for the Great Lakes

from IRIN
Published on 25 Sep 2000
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
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BURUNDI: Nairobi follow-up meeting underway in Arusha

Follow-up talks to the Nairobi summit meeting kicked off in Arusha, Tanzania on Monday with an appeal to the warring factions to reach a ceasefire. Judge Mark Bomani, an official of the facilitation team, told participants of the 19 sides taking part in the peace process, that as long as there was violence, the peace accord - signed on 28 August - could never be implemented. He appealed to the participants to do "everything possible" to encourage the belligerents to make peace, the Internews information service reported. He expressed the hope that they would reach a ceasefire within the 30 days' deadline issued by regional leaders at the Nairobi summit. All 19 negotiating sides have now signed the peace accord, but Bomani stressed that a donors' meeting on Burundi would not take place until there was a cessation of hostilities.

The Arusha follow-up meeting is due to discuss a draft agenda on issues including the ceasefire and leadership of the transitional government. "It is an exclusively Burundian issue who should lead the transition," Bomani declared.

BURUNDI: Rebel leader "unaware" of ultimatum

Rebel leader Cossan Kabura has said he is unaware of a 30-day ultimatum imposed by the peace talks facilitation team on rebel groups to hold talks on a ceasefire agreement. The deadline was issued at the end of summit talks in Nairobi last week. In an interview with the private Burundi Umwizero radio, the leader of PALIPEHUTU-FNL also reiterated that his movement had nothing to do with the Arusha process as it had not been part of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the other PALIPEHUTU faction leader, Etienne Karatasi, has written to the facilitator, Nelson Mandela, saying that any ceasefire accord should be signed by the government and all the rebel movements. These include the CNDD and CNDD-FDD factions, as well as the PALIPEHUTU and PALIPEHUTU-FNL factions and the FROLINA rebel group, he said. "It is not just a question of an accord between President Pierre Buyoya, Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye [of CNDD-FDD] and Commander Cossan Kabura [of PALIPEHUTU-FNL], but it is an important decision which binds all combatant parties, groups and movements," the letter stated. "The commitment to signing a definitive ceasefire should be a guarantee, a choice by all the belligerents for non-violence and peaceful coexistence."

BURUNDI: Buyoya back from South Africa talks

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya on Sunday returned from South Africa after consultations with opposition politicians and mediators in the Burundi peace process. "The mediator has to resolve the issue of the security of Burundians who will return from exile," Buyoya told a news conference on his return, according to Burundi radio. He also said Mandela "no longer wants big meetings to be held in Arusha". Meanwhile, private Umwizero radio reported on Saturday that tension was mounting in the G-10 grouping that brings together 10 Tutsi parties who signed the Arusha agreement over representation at the South African meeting. It quoted the general-secretary of the radical Tutsi Parti pour le Redressement National (PARENA), Remy Nkengurutse, as saying three Tutsi parties that went to Pretoria "without informing other members of G-10" could "compromise the implementation of the Burundi peace agreement". The Tutsi parties that attended the Pretoria talks are RADDES, UPRONA and INKIZO. The G-7 - a grouping of Hutu parties - were also present in Pretoria.

BURUNDI: 11 killed in reported rebel attack

Eleven people were killed on Friday night during a two-hour attack in Matakura, northern Bujumbura, news organisations reported at the weekend. AFP quoted eyewitnesses as saying the rebels, some of whom were dressed in military uniforms, stormed houses, "killing without warning and demanding money". The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said the attackers, believed to be rebel fighters, carried automatic weapons and grenades and sang religious songs during the attack.

"They entered my house, forced me to my knees and demanded money," the BBC quoted a survivor, Benoit Nkurunziza, as saying. "I gave them everything I had, then my wife started crying and one of the attackers said to his friends 'kill this woman' and they shot her," he said. "Without intervention by the security forces, this would have turned into a catastrophe," AFP quoted Burundi's Interior Minister Ascencion Twagiramungu as saying.

DRC: "Little progress" in DRC peace process - Annan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted in his latest report to the Security Council on Friday that there has been "little progress, if any, in the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement which has been consistently violated in the intensified fighting between the government, the rebels and Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) forces in northern Equateur province". The hostilities, according Annan, have not only imperilled the peace process, but have also spilled over into the Republic of Congo (ROC) and the Central African Republic (CAR). He, however, recommended an eight-week extension of the UN Operation in DRC (MONUC) hoping that the "extra time will be used wisely by the parties to the conflict".

The report notes that a disengagement plan has been stalled, while efforts to assist the parties in implementing the Lusaka Agreement have been frustrated by restrictions on MONUC's freedom of movement and opposition, until recently, to the deployment of UN troops. In addition, the DRC government has questioned the validity of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. "Lack of any progress in the peace process would make it difficult to justify not only the commencement of the second phase of UN deployment but also the continuation of the current level of the mission's presence in the DRC," Annan said. "It is clear that UN peacekeeping operations cannot serve as a substitute for the political will to achieve a political settlement."

DRC: Deployment under current conditions "risky"

Meanwhile, the Under-Secretary-general for Peacekeeping, Bernard Miyet, on Friday told journalists in New York that deploying troops under the current conditions in the DRC would be "risky". "One of the risks of such an operation would be that if you move into the peacekeeping operation without any meaningful and serious prospect of any breakthrough, or move on the political side, you are trapped there for I don't know how long without any prospect to improve the situation," he said.

DRC: President Kabila seeks Eyadema's mediation

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila is seeking the mediation of Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema in the DRC conflict, AFP quoted official sources as saying on Friday. "President Kabila wants him to be more involved in the resolution of the war imposed on us by three brother countries - Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi," the agency quoted Communications Minister Dominique Inongo Sakombi as saying after a meeting with Eyadema. Last week, leader of the rebel Goma-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Emile Ilunga, held talks with Eyadema in Lome.

DRC: EU reaffirms commitment to Lusaka accord

The European Union (EU) on Friday issued a declaration reaffirming its commitment to the Lusaka agreement, describing it as the "only consensual reference point" currently serving as a basis for a negotiated solution to the conflict. It said it was alarmed at proposals to suspend implementation of the agreement and the likelihood that such an initiative would involve a general resumption of hostilities and, consequently, of jeopardising the UN peacekeeping operation. The EU appealed to the DRC government and other signatories to the Lusaka agreement to restore a minimum of mutual confidence by respecting the ceasefire, implementing the withdrawal provided for by the Kampala Agreement and the tripartite agreement (Uganda, Rwanda, UN) concerning the town of Kisangani.

It recommended that this should be done by confirming and applying "urgently" the approved guarantees for security and free movement. The statement also called upon the governments of Uganda and Rwanda and other signatory states to put into practice without delay UN Security Council Resolution 1304 and to implement their proposals for redeploying their troops in the DRC.

DRC: DRC, CAR heads agree to normalise relations

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his Central African Republic counterpart Ange Felix Patasse on Friday agreed to normalise relations between the two countries. In a joint communiqué issued by the two presidents after Patasse's visit, they expressed their desire to strengthen ties to promote common interests and peace in the sub-region, DRC state television said.

They reaffirmed the "urgent need" for Rwanda and Uganda to withdraw troops from DRC territory, in line Resolution 1304 of the UN Security Council. They also expressed their commitment to the free movement of ships from the two countries on the Congo and Oubangui rivers.

DRC: Kisangani clashes to be further probed

Ugandan and Rwandan leaders are to further investigate the cause of fighting between their forces in the Congolese town of Kisangani earlier this year, in which over 700 civilians were killed. "At a political level we have agreed that both of us should establish what happened in Kisangani so that we can put the incident behind us," the national political commissar of Uganda's ruling National Resistance Movement, James Wapakhabulo, told IRIN. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni visited Rwanda last week for the first time since the clashes. "The relationship between Uganda and Rwanda is excellent and this is manifested in the free atmosphere between the two countries, although we clashed in Kisangani for which cause we didn't know," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a news conference at the end of his visit. Rwandan President Paul Kagame also emphasised the good relationship between the two countries. "We have been having a brotherly relationship despite the differences of the recent past that we have since done away with," he said. In a communiqué issued after the meeting, both leaders "reiterated their earlier commitment to the Lusaka ceasefire agreement and further resolved to work together for its full implementation and called upon the UN to fully deploy observers to support the agreement, and to provide the necessary resources to the facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue". Kagame is due to pay a return visit to Uganda.

TANZANIA: Minister warns DRC refugees against politics

Tanzania's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jakaya Kikwete, at the weekend warned DRC refugees living in Tanzania to keep off politics or "any other activities hostile to their countries while on Tanzanian soil". He told journalists in Dar es Salaam that there were some refugees from the DRC involved in politics, Tanzanian radio reported. The refugees have reportedly formed their own party, Union of Forces for the Liberation of DRC, "with the sole objective of ousting DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila's government and chasing out all foreign soldiers from DRC".

Kikwete said these refugees had violated the basic principles and conditions governing refugees because they were not supposed to engage in political activities while enjoying refugee status. He said his government recognised the government of President Kabila and, therefore, the members of the new political party should look for an alternative country to Tanzania from where they could carry out their activities.

RWANDA: US gives $4.5 million to support democracy

The US government has disbursed US $4.5 million to the Rwandan government to support democracy, justice and good governance programmes in the country, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) quoted a ministry of finance communiqué as saying. The money will be processed through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The communiqué said a total of $4 million has been made available through the US government's Great Lakes Justice Initiative (GLJI). GLJI is a special programme launched by President Bill Clinton in 1998 to strengthen justice systems in countries of the Great Lakes region. RNA noted that with this increment, the US government will have made available US $14 million to Rwanda under the GLJI.

The communiqué further underscored that the GLJI funds to be made available to Rwanda this year will be used to expand the rule of law and governance activities, with particular emphasis on technical and logistical support to the ministry of justice. It will be used to assist in processing the genocide caseload and to promote long term development of justice sector institutions. The funds are also to be used to support education and conflict mediation activities at the national university of Rwanda; English and Kinyarwanda language reporting on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and gacaca [traditional justice] trials; local NGOs engaged in promoting awareness of and respect for human rights and the work of the gacaca tribunals. The statement also said that through the agreement with the Rwandan government, the US will continue its support to journalists based in Arusha, Tanzania who are reporting on the work of ICTR.

RWANDA: Drought prompts migration

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the hard and prolonged drought in parts of Rwanda has prompted the movement of people and animals. Particularly affected is the Bugesera region, where weak harvests have led to people - and sometimes complete households - migrating to other areas in search of jobs or assistance. The situation has led to livestock thefts, meaning that farmers have to keep constant watch over their land. Inhabitants of new villages set up by the Rwandan authorities are especially vulnerable to food shortages, as they have not yet established cassava or banana plantations. FAO pointed out that there is considerable community support for affected people. An estimated 150,000 people require urgent assistance in the Bugesera region, the FAO added. It appealed for continued international assistance.

Nairobi, 25 September 2000, 15:15 gmt


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