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GREAT LAKES: Annan appointee to focus on Burundi crisis
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Berhanu Dinka as his Special Representative for the Great Lakes "to raise the profile of the UN within the international community's efforts to address the deteriorating situation in Burundi," a press released stated on Tuesday. Dinka, who was most recently been the Secretary-General's Representative and Regional Humanitarian Adviser for the Great Lakes region, would represent Annan at the Burundi peace talks in Arusha, which were expected to be reinvigorated by the facilitation of former South African president Nelson Mandela, the statement said. Dinka would also address "regional dimensions of the conflict in the DRC" through "close interaction" with Kamel Morjane, Annan's Special Representative to the DRC. In addition, he would "sound out the countries in the region" on the organisation of an international conference on the Great Lakes, the press release said.
BURUNDI: Seed distribution planned for early crop season
The FAO has predicted an 2000 'B' crop season, at the end of January rather than a month later as usual, and said it would be distributing seeds from mid-January. Subject to food availability in the country, the WFP will support the programme by providing seed protection rations, so that seed is not consumed as food, also from mid-January, the agency's latest emergency report has stated. First priority will be given to the drought-hit provinces of Kirundo, Muyinga, Cankuzo, Makamba and Ruyigi, WFP added.
DRC: Gloomy prospects for peace this year - EIU
"There is little prospect of a conclusive end to the conflict in the DRC" in the next 12 months, with indications being that many of the combatants find prolonging the war preferable to peace, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has gloomily predicted in a series of reports on the prospects for 2000. "Under such conditions, the prospects for a successful UN peacekeeping operation are less than auspicious," it stated. Nonetheless, the report added, the Lusaka peace process had exposed the weaknesses of the various parties, such that it was more likely they would "begin to move towards gradual disengagement."
On the one side, differences between Uganda and Rwanda - which the EIU described as the main threat to DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila's government - had weakened their alliance and "Uganda, in particular, may wish to limit its involvement in the DRC, where it has fewer interests," the EIU suggested. On the government side, the capacity of Kabila's main foreign backers to sustain their involvement has peaked, it added. Zimbabwe's involvement in DRC had bankrupted it and both Angola and Namibia were increasingly concentrating on domestic security concerns, the EIU said. Given those weary allies and "a hostile domestic population among whom it no longer has real legitimacy or support," Kinshasa would "continue to drag its hells on implementation of the peace process, including political liberalisation, which it correctly perceives is a direct threat to its own survival," the EIU predicted.
DRC: Kabila holds talks with selected opposition leaders
President Kabila has met leaders of the unarmed opposition - political, religious and professional - for talks for the first time since he seized power in May 1997, Agence France Press (AFP) reported on Tuesday, citing Congolese television. Some 50 politicians, including Likulia Bolongo, the last prime minister of ousted dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, attended the Kinshasa talks at which Kabila said he wanted "national cohesion" and an institutional frame of reference for all, AFP stated. Participants appealed for more political liberalisation, a broadening of amnesty provisions to all political tendencies and judicial reforms, it added. Top opposition figures that boycotted Kabila's invitation included Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Forces, and Joseph Olenghakoy of the Innovative Forces for Union and Solidarity.
DRC: Tshisekedi rejects talks outside Lusaka framework
Tshisekedi stated in South Africa this week that the inter-Congolese negotiations provided for in the Lusaka peace agreement were the only basis for resolving the Congolese question, and that he would not participate in political talks that were not held under the auspice of the Lusaka accord. Meanwhile, the second vice-president of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) Moise Nyarugabo said on Monday that his movement was waiting for the facilitator of the inter-Congolese negotiations, former Botswana President Ketumile Masire, to set up "a timetable of consultations" with the Kinshasa regime in either Mauritius, Ethiopia, South Africa or Botswana. The foreign ministry of Botswana on Tuesday confirmed to IRIN that Masire, nominated as facilitator of the DRC political negotiations by the OAU in mid-December, had indeed accepted the position.
DRC: Draft deal proposed to end ethnic conflict in Ituri
The territorial administration commission of the rebel RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) has facilitated the preparation of a draft treaty aimed at returning peace and security to the Djugu area of Ituri District in northeastern DRC (which has been wracked by sporadic conflict between the pastoralist Hema and agriculturalist Lendu groups), according to an RCD-ML press release received by IRIN. In a "working document" launched in Bunia on 21 December, Hema and Lendu representatives had called for a mutual pardon of the wrongs done to the others' community and set out the basis for a cessation of hostilities, it said. Protagonists in the Hema and Lendu communities could still propose amendments but the outline agreement represented a gesture of "generosity, tolerance and solidarity," and should satisfy all parties, RCD-ML official Jacques Depelchin said.
DRC: Russian pilots released
The three Russian pilots who were arrested by the rebel Mouvement de liberation du congo (MLC) on 1 December when they landed their government-chartered Antonov airplane at Basankusu, Equateur Province, not realising the town had previously been captured by the rebels, were released last Thursday, news organisations reported. The MLC claimed to have captured sizeable quantities of government arms and ammunition when it seized the Russians' plane. The pilots were released into Libyan custody and handed over to the Russian embassy in Tripoli at the weekend, the Libyan 'Jana' news agency stated.
RWANDA: New focus on education-led development
Rwanda's educational priority has been identified as social development through increased access to "education with a sense of equity, improved quality in subjects and training for effective human resource development," according to a ministry of education report quoted on Tuesday by Rwanda News Agency (RNA). Twelve teacher training colleges would be opened and 14,000 primary teachers upgraded through in-service training in order to improve the quality of teacher training, the report stated. The ministry had also set a target of improving secondary school admission from the current 16 percent to 40 percent by 2005, with an intermediate target of 30 percent for the 2000-2001 intake, it added.
Nairobi, 5 January 2000, 3:15 gmt
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