IRIN Update 1080 for the Great Lakes
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Council urges all sides to observe truce
Members of the UN Security Council on Friday called for a halt to the fighting in the DRC. Speaking to journalists following a closed-door briefing on the DRC, Council President Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation expressed "deep concern" about the ceasefire violations. He said that Council members "fully supported" an appeal for a halt to the fighting which was issued earlier on Friday in Kinshasa by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the DRC, Kamel Morjane.
Morjane proposed a truce at least for the holiday period and expressed concern about the spillover of the fighting into neighbouring countries, such as Zambia, which up until now has maintained its neutrality in the conflict. Council members also expressed concern about the safety and security of personnel working with the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and reiterated the importance of "the national dialogue to be promoted in the DRC".
DRC: DRC allies warn Rwanda to withdraw
President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his military allies on Friday told Rwanda its troops in the DRC faced a major assault if they failed to withdraw from an "eastern town", AFP reported. The warning was issued by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who had joined Kabila and another of his regional supporters, Namibian leader, Sam Nujoma, for a summit in Kinshasa in the wake of a failed peace-making session in Gabon. "If Rwandan troops do not pull back to positions agreed by the belligerent parties on 6 December in Harare, the allies will use all means at their disposal to recapture the town of Pweto in Katanga province," Mugabe said.
Fierce fighting erupted last month in Katanga between the DRC government and its allies on one hand, and the Goma-based rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) on the other. Hundreds of people have been displaced in the area as a result, forcing some to cross into the Zambian territory, including soldiers from the government side.
DRC: Northwestern rebels' positions bombed
Forces loyal to President Laurent-Desire Kabila on Monday bombed positions held by the northwestern-based Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), AFP reported. "Dongo was bombed at 1445 GMT as well as our position in Nganda Paris on the banks of the Congo River by Zimbabwean MiGs, which dropped four 250-kg bombs on each position," AFP quoted MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba as saying. "In our opinion, these bombardments are a diversion aimed at cutting our supply lines because the airports in Gbadolite, Dongo and Gemena were targeted," Bemba said. There were, however, no civilian casualties because the bombs did not fall in populated areas.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) on Monday said that UN personnel and property had not been affected by the two airport bombing raids which it noted had been carried out by the government. According to a UN spokesman, UN military observers in the DRC said that government forces on Saturday bombed airstrips at two locations - Gbadolite and Gemena, adding that no casualties were reported.
RWANDA: Rwanda to receive $810 million debt relief
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to support a comprehensive debt reduction package for Rwanda under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. A statement from the Bank on Friday said that the debt relief package will save Rwanda about US $810 million in debt service over the coming years. It further said the amount was equal to $452 million in net present value (NPV) which is the discounted sum of all future debt-service obligations (interest and principal) on existing debt.
The relief will reduce by 71 percent the NPV of Rwanda's debt outstanding at the end-1999 after the full use of traditional debt relief mechanisms. According to the statement, Rwanda will receive the full amount of assistance under the enhanced HIPC initiative when it satisfies the requirements for a floating completion point, including the completion of a poverty reduction strategy paper prepared with the full participation of all stakeholders.
RWANDA: Reports say 22 DRC-based rebels surrender
Meanwhile, Rwanda says it is making progress in its war against the Interahamwe Hutu militia which bears responsibility for much of the 1994 genocide. The government said the latest indication of this came on Monday when 22 Interahamwe surrendered to its troops following successful cross-border operations. Presidential defence advisor Colonel Charles Kayonga was quoted by news organisations as saying the fighters crossed into Rwanda from DRC and handed themselves in at a military base close to the border.
BURUNDI: Rebels kill 15 in Christmas Day attack
At least 15 villagers were killed and some 12 others wounded in a Christmas Day attack by suspected Hutu rebels on a village in southern Burundi, news organisations reported. Hundreds of rebels launched an attack before dawn on Butare, Rutana province - some 150 km from the capital Bujumbura. Local media said four rebels were killed in the fighting which local officials blamed on Hutu movement Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD).
The capital Bujumbura, however, was reported quiet over the Christian holiday period for the first time in seven years.
Nairobi, 27 December 2000 1200 GMT
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