Burundi + 2 more

IRIN Update 826 for the Great Lakes

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UGANDA: ADF threaten to attack aid convoys

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in western Uganda have threatened to attack relief convoys going to Bundibugyo. In letters to the ICRC and UNHCR, published on Saturday by the independent 'Monitor' daily, the ADF claimed the convoys were ferrying military supplies to the Ugandan army. "Any convoy of humanitarian assistance to Bundibugyo will be attacked whether escorted by uniformed or civilian personnel," the letter stated. "That is because you accept to be used by the government to ferry some military stuff under the guise of humanitarian aid to internally displaced people." "Your office must not blame our organisation for any losses whatsoever that might occur if it insists on undertaking those trips to Bundibugyo," the letter warned.

In a commentary on Saturday, the 'Monitor' said the recent upsurge in ADF attacks, particularly near Fort Portal, had exposed "holes" in President Yoweri Museveni's Congo policy and the "sluggishness" of the army in combating insurgency. "How can Ugandan troops who have been deep inside Congo for a whole three years on grounds of eliminating the ADF's supply bases still be facing military assaults from the rebels deep inside Uganda?" the paper asked.

UGANDA: Mayi-Mayi, Interahamwe implicated in attacks

Meanwhile, the semi-official 'New Vision' cited security sources who suggested Congolese Mayi-Mayi fighters and Rwandan Interahamwe militia were implicated in the ADF raids. According to the sources, they crossed into the Semliki national park where they joined up with the ADF. Bundibugyo Resident District Commissioner Edward Masiga said: "It's very clear that most of the attacks in the district were carried out by a joint force of ADF, Interahamwe and Mayi-Mayi. Their intention is to gain mountain grounds for recruitment and Nyahuka airstrip for supplies. But this cannot easily happen."

UGANDA: Britain to write off debt

Uganda is among four countries whose debts Britain intends to write off. British Chancellor Gordon Brown told the BBC that Uganda - along with Mozambique, Bolivia and Mauritania - should have qualified for debt forgiveness by the end of January. "It's no longer a question of people talking about what they are going to do, it is now a question of action," he stated. The move has been hailed by lobbyists for third world debt cancellation. Jubilee 2000 described it as "wonderful news" and predicted a domino effect by other countries. The BBC said in return for the countries promising that the money will not be spent on arms or bureaucracy, debt relief up to 100 percent will be given to around two thirds of the world's 41 poorest nations on a case-by-case basis.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels to form common front

The three DRC rebel groups have reportedly agreed to form a common front for upcoming talks with the DRC authorities, news organisations reported. The agreement followed four days of talks in the southwestern Ugandan town of Kabale. The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), the Mouvement de liberation du Congo and the RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) decided to form a committee to reconcile their political views and coordinate military operations ahead of the national dialogue, Associated Press reported. However, the agreement did not extend to banding together in one movement.

DRC: Minister denies opposition to Lusaka accord

Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi has reiterated that DRC will not enter the third millennium "under foreign occupation". Addressing reporters in Kinshasa, he denied he was opposed to the Lusaka ceasefire accord, but admitted that several provisions in the agreement were now "null and void", state radio reported. The war was continuing, he added. "The inter-Congolese debate has not been held yet," he noted. "Now are we responsible for that? I wish to remind you that the aggressors were fighting on our territory - is this contained in the Lusaka accord?"

DRC: Security Council hears of worsening situation

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Bernard Miyet, has noted a serious deterioration in the DRC military situation over the past three months. Briefing the Security Council last week, he said UN military liaison officers had been deployed but until the observer mission MONUC was guaranteed full security and freedom of movement, the department of peacekeeping operations would not be able to fully assess security conditions. Action must be taken to stop the situation from deteriorating further and the parties themselves bore the main responsibility for that, he added. The US representative told the meeting his country wanted a peacekeeping operation in the DRC, but it wanted to "get it right". The Council should not vote on a resolution until it knew what it was voting for, he said. Namibia's representative called on the Council to assume its responsibilities. "If the Council waits for perfect peace in the DRC before it takes action, everything that has been achieved will be lost," he stressed.

DRC: UNHCR trying to reach thousands of refugees

A UNHCR team is trying to reach villages in northern Congo-Brazzaville where thousands of refugees have reportedly fled fighting in northwest DRC. According to a UNHCR briefing, the team travelled to Impfondo, 1,000 km north of Brazzaville where some 13,000 DRC refugees are said to be scattered in villages and settlements along a 300 km stretch of the Oubangui river. They were fleeing fighting between DRC troops and rebels around the towns of Bururu and Bomongo. As yet, no boats have been made available to UNHCR staff to verify the numbers further upriver. Local authorities said the entire area had been affected by exceptional flooding over the past two months.

BURUNDI: Claims of deal between CNDD and ruling Zimbabwe party

A Zimbabwean newspaper has claimed that the ruling ZANU-PF party and the Burundian rebel group, Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) have signed an agreement on military cooperation. The 'Zimbabwe Independent' on Friday wrote that CNDD leader Leonard Nyangoma had led a four-man delegation to Zimbabwe. The agreement - signed in June - reportedly covers training, equipment, finance and diplomatic assistance. The newspaper also said CNDD leaders were understood to be lobbying the Zimbabwean government to reject South African mediation in the Burundi conflict. ZANU-PF officials could not be reached for comment, the newspaper added.

BURUNDI: Government reassures over rumoured rebel attack

The army killed 27 rebels and seized a number of weapons last Thursday after laying an ambush in the Kabezi commune of Bujumbura Rural, the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) reported. The army ambush was laid in the mountains between Musama and Rugembe. ABP noted there are persistent rumours of an impending rebel attack between 25 and 31 December, although the defence ministry has given assurances that precautions have been taken to counter any possible attack.

Nairobi, 20 December 1999, 14:30 gmt

[ENDS]

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