Burundi + 2 more

IRIN Update 812 for the Great Lakes

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U N I T E D N A T I O N S
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: Buyoya "confident" right mediator will be named

President Pierre Buyoya on Monday said he expected the new facilitator for the Burundi peace process, to be nominated at a regional summit in Tanzania this week, would hold the "qualities we have specified," Radio Burundi reported. "I am going to Arusha with confidence," he was quoted as saying before his departure for the summit. He reiterated his government's position that the facilitator, to replace former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, would have international stature and mediation experience and would be acceptable to Burundians. "We did not say that the mediator must come from South Africa or that the talks must take place in South Africa. We have expressed a wish that the country plays an important role and we are going to continue hoping for the same," Buyoya said.

BURUNDI: Mbeki and Chiluba to join in summit meeting

South African President Thabo Mbeki and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma were scheduled to leave for the summit meeting in Tanzania on Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese news agency reported presidential spokesman Parks Mankahlana as saying. "We are going there with an open mind on who will be the facilitator," Mankahlana said, adding that the meeting was aimed at re-evaluating the Burundi peace process and discussing how it could best be moved forward. Zambian President Frederick Chiluba - mediator for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) peace process for the DRC, which delivered the Lusaka ceasefire agreement - was scheduled to leave for the Burundi summit on Wednesday morning, news organisations reported.

GREAT LAKES: Europe calls for arms embargo on whole region

The European Parliament has demanded "an international embargo on the export of arms and munitions to Burundi and the Great Lakes region as a whole", and called on the UN Security Council and member states to honour the undertakings entered into as regards "controlling arms exports to the region and preventing the illegal sale of such arms." The Parliament also insisted that neighbouring states support the Burundi peace process "by ensuring that their territory is not used in any way to threaten the security of the Burundian people." In addition, it expressed its support for a Great Lakes conference on peace, security and stability, "to be attended by all the governments in the region."

DRC: MLC sceptical about rebel reconciliation bid

The rebel Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) has expressed "profound perplexity" at renewed attempts to reconcile and unite Congolese rebel groups. In a report received by IRIN, the MLC said the chances of rebel reconciliation were slim if the reasons that led to the clashes between the two factions of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) - in Kisangani in August and more recently in Beni and Butembo - had not been resolved. RCD-Goma last week said the three rebel groups would meet in the coming days in an effort to resolve their differences. While welcoming the initiative, the MLC would refuse to be associated with "any folkloric initiative...that would constitute a waste of time," the report said. It noted, however, that a common platform among the rebel movements would enable positions to be harmonised "with a view to the next elections."

DRC: New haemorrhagic fever cases suspected

Two new suspected cases of haemorrhagic fever were reported during the second week of November in Province Orientale, a WHO official told IRIN on Tuesday. Both victims, one in Durba and the other in Watsa, have died. "They had signs and symptoms of haemorrhagic fever but we are waiting for laboratory confirmation," the official said. The development is a source of concern because of the time period that has elapsed since the last suspected cases were reported, the official said. "These cases don't seem to be related to the previous outbreak," he said. "We might be facing a new outbreak but we're not sure yet," he said. Some 60 people were estimated to have died of haemorrhagic fever, linked to the Marburg virus, in the Durba area between November 1998 and May of this year.

DRC: Health investigators search for virus reservoir

Meanwhile, an international health team that visited Durba from 13-29 October to investigate the area's haemorrhagic fever situation is currently preparing a report on its findings, the WHO official said. The team - comprising officials from WHO, the Pasteur Institute, the US Centers for Disease Control and South Africa's National Institute of Virology, as well as local health authorities - interviewed survivors and victims' family members, took blood samples and collected bats, rats and insects to try to identify the "reservoir" for the virus, the official added.

RWANDA: Former minister arrested in France

Former Rwandan Minister for Further Education, Research and Culture Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda has been arrested in France in connection with the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Carla del Ponte told journalists on Monday evening that a "former high-level politician" had been arrested in France and would be transferred to the ICTR prison in Arusha, Tanzania in the next few days, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Kamuhanda was arrested at dawn on Friday 26 November, in the French town of Bourges, the agency added. Kamuhanda, who was part of the Rwandan interim government that presided over the 1994 genocide, will be the eleventh member of the former interim government held in ICTR custody, excluding former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda who was sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide after pleading guilty, Hirondelle reported.

RWANDA: European Parliament "deplores" Barayagwiza release ruling

The European Parliament has said it "deplores the decision" of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) appeal court to release genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza on technical legal grounds which, it said, "risks undermining the credibility of the Tribunal." It called for the court to review the decision and, "in particular, to reverse its ruling that Barayagwiza cannot be tried again ... on the charges for which he was originally indicted." The ICTR should "review its requirements for retrials" because "there can never be immunity from prosecution over genocide charges," it said. The resolution also called on the Rwandan government to reconsider its decision to suspend cooperation with the ICTR as a result of the Barayagwiza ruling, which it said would "seriously affect the court's ability to conduct its trials."

RWANDA: Expert says climate wrong for Rutaganda judgement

Belgian law professor and Great Lakes analyst Filip Reyntjens, who appeared as an expert prosecution witness in the genocide trial of former Rwandan militia leader Georges Rutaganda, has asked the ICTR to be heard as 'amicus curiae' (friend of the court) to put his point that the climate is not right for the Tribunal's pronouncement of judgement on Rutaganda, scheduled for 6 December. "I believe a verdict handed down in the current circumstances [widespread outrage at Barayagwiza's release] could seriously damage the public perception of the ICTR as independent and impartial" by creating the impression that it was subject to external political pressures, Reyntjens said in a Jdocument seen by IRIN. He suggested the ICTR "should temporarily postpone its judgement" in the case.

RWANDA: Rutaganda defence appeals for dismissal

Rutaganda's defence lawyer Tiphaine Dickson filed a motion at the weekend urging that trial proceedings against her client be halted because his "right to a trial before an independent and impartial Tribunal has been definitively violated thanks to undue and continued pressures from the Rwandan authorities", Hirondelle news agency reported on Tuesday.

Nairobi, 30 November 1999, 15:00 gmt

[ENDS]

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