Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 816 for the Great Lakes

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RWANDA: ICTR hands Rutaganda life sentence for genocide

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday sentenced former Interahamwe militia leader Georges Rutaganda to life imprisonment on one count of genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity. Judges Laity Kama, Lennart Aspegren and Navanethem Pillay unanimously found that Rutaganda "incurred individual criminal responsibility, in particular for having ordered, incited and carried out murders and for causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Tutsi ethnic group" during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, an ICTR press release stated on Monday. "Rutaganda played an important role as leader and instigator... he ordered killings on repeated occasions. He took no steps to stop the Interahamwe from committing crimes but, on the contrary, he even killed with his own hands," Hirondelle news agency quoted ICTR Judge Laity Kama as saying.

The Tribunal found Rutaganda not guilty of two other charges. Rutaganda, who was second vice-president of the Interahamwe during the 1994 genocide, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Defence counsel Tiphaine Dickson said she would appeal against the verdict and the sentence, the ICTR said on Monday. Monday's judgement on Rutaganda was the Tribunal's sixth since its creation in 1994 and the fourth life sentence, after those passed on former mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and former prefect of Kibuye Clément Kayishema, Hirondelle reported.

RWANDA: ICTR Prosecutor urges reversal of Barayagwiza decision

The ICTR Prosecutor Carla del Ponte has officially called for a revision of the Appeals Court decision to free genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the Hirondelle news agency reported on Friday. She said she had new details which she hoped would speed up a reversal of the decision. Meanwhile, del Ponte arrived in Kigali on Saturday after Rwanda relented and agreed to grant her a visa. However, Foreign Minister Augustin Iyamuremye told the Rwanda News Agency the decision did not mean that cooperation had been re-established with the tribunal. Rwandan temporarily suspended cooperation with the ICTR after the Appeals Court's decision.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bemba warns Wamba over bank deal

Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) on Saturday warned Ernest Wamba dia Wamba of the rebel RCD-ML (Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie - mouvement de liberation) against taking US $16 million in "development aid" from the First International Bank of Grenada, agreed last month. Bemba cast doubt on the Grenada bank's backers and said the trade concessions amounted to "selling the country's sovereignty", the Ugandan semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Monday. Bemba singled out a clause in the RCD-ML deal with First International on the establishment of the 'African Union Reserve Bank' and asked: "How will you say you are in control of the country when you cannot control the central bank. If you sell the central bank, doesn't that mean you have sold the sovereignty of your country?"

DRC: Violations will not derail ceasefire - Uganda

The Ugandan government said on Friday that breaches of the Lusaka peace agreement would not derail the accord because violations were "part of the process". "If there are violations here and there, as long as we are committed there is no problem," Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya was quoted as saying.

DRC: Three Russians held as Antonov seized

Three Russian pilots of an Antonov aircraft chartered by the Kinshasa government were among the prisoners taken by Jean-Pierre Bemba's MLC when it captured Basankusu in Equateur Province last Wednesday, AFP reported at the weekend. The pilots told journalists in Gbadolite they were working for a Belgian-owned company, Filair, which was operating the Antonov for the DRC government, and did not know when they landed that Basankusu had been captured by the rebels earlier that day. The MLC, which said it had seized 150,000 rounds of ammunition and a large number of mortars from the Antonov, justified seizing Basankusu by saying the government was using it to launch an offensive on rebel lines, designed to capture the town of Lisala.

UGANDA: Kampala refuses to release impounded arms

The Ugandan government has refused to release a large arms shipment destined for Burundi, impounded in Kampala, unless the Burundi government shows commitment to peace negotiations with the rebels, the 'EastAfrican' newspaper reported on Monday. Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Amama Mbabazi said that while regional economic sanctions against Burundi had been lifted earlier this year, the issue of an arms embargo had still not been resolved, the paper stated. "In a condition of war, it is not good to proliferate the country with arms. It is not good for the resolution of conflicts," Mbabazi said. The 14 truckloads of unspecified arms were impounded for security reasons en route from Mombasa in October. The Burundi government has been negotiating ever since for their release.

BURUNDI: NGOs told to "stop meddling"

The Burundi government has asked NGOs in the country to "stop meddling" in internal politics, the PANA news agency reported. It quoted Foreign Minister Severin Ntahomvukiye, who met NGO representatives in Bujumbura on Friday, as saying political and security issues were the sole responsibility of the government and Burundians. PANA said he criticised the "dishonesty" of some NGOs who were no longer distributing humanitarian aid on the pretext that some of the regroupment sites were not easily accessible. "If you cannot reach these distressed people, give us the food and drugs, and we will go and distribute them ourselves," he said.

BURUNDI: Security Council hails Mandela appointment

The UN Security Council has welcomed the appointment of former South African president Nelson Mandela to mediate in the Burundi peace process. In a press statement, the Council urged all sides to show flexibility and to cooperate fully with the new facilitator. It commended Burundian parties and the government which had demonstrated their commitment to continuing negotiations and urged sides that remained outside the process to cease hostilities.

BURUNDI: No-one will be sidelined, Mandela says

Mandela, meanwhile, has called for resuming the peace talks in February. In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation he said nobody should be sidelined in the negotiations. "We can't sideline anybody who can create instability in the country, so we must find a way of accommodating them in these discussions - either by inviting them to join or addressing them separately, but you can't ignore them," he said. Mandela added that "in every ethnic group there are those who feel that violence, tension and hatred are not in the best interests of Burundi as a country". Acknowledging there were "a lot of rough times" ahead, Mandela said "we have to use the good and the evil to create harmony and understanding between the parties".

The four working commissions began work in Arusha and are expected to continue for 10 days, the Tanzanian daily 'Guardian' reported on Monday.

BURUNDI: New alliance created

Nine political personalities have joined together to create the Alliance nationale pour le changement (ANAC), aimed at ending impunity and violence in the country. The private Netpress news agency named the members as Domitien Ndayizeye FRODEBU (external) secretary-general, Severin Ndikumugongo vice-president of the Parti du peuple, Cyrille Barancira vice-president of PARENA, Jean Baptiste Mukuri secretary-general of ABASA, Philippe Nzobonariba secretary-general of the RPB party, Andre Biha an MP, Antole Kanyenkiko former prime minister, Pierre Claver Rurerekana of SOJEDEM and MP Terence Nahimana. ANAC said its aims were to promote a common vision for change and to refuse to accept the status quo. Netpress described the creation of ANAC as a "response" the establishment in October of the Convergence nationale pour la paix et la reconciliation (CNPR) bringing together the internal wing of FRODEBU and mainly Tutsi parties.

AFRICA: New Annan adviser to cover Great Lakes region

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday appointed Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria as his Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa, at the level of Under-Secretary-General. The priority areas for Gambari will include Central Africa and the Great Lakes region, as well as Angola and Southern Africa, Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard told journalists in New York. Annan's Special Envoy for Africa, Mahmoud Sahnoun, would concentrate on northern Africa and the Horn, especially Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudan, Eckhard added. Gambari's appointment is for an initial one-year period from 1 December.

Nairobi, 6 December 1999, 15:10 gmt

[ENDS]

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