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IRIN Update 837 for the Great Lakes

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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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for Central and Eastern Africa
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BURUNDI: Buyoya reshuffles government

President Pierre Buyoya has carried out a major cabinet reshuffle, apparently in response to growing criticism within the country of the economic situation. The defence and finance ministers are among those who have been replaced. Regional analysts told IRIN on Wednesday they were associated with illegal trading and corruption, and there had been mounting opposition to them in the capital Bujumbura. However, the analysts added that the reshuffle would do little to assuage growing anger over the government's economic policies, and Buyoya could not backpedal on recent decisions such as hiking the price of fuel, beer and taxes. According to the observers, the recently created opposition grouping, Alliance nationale pour le changement (ANAC), is trying to exploit public dissatisfaction with the government's policies. The private news agency Azania recalled that the sacked defence minister, Colonel Alfred Nkurunziza, on Sunday took ANAC to court for "defamation, slander and inciting soldiers to rebel" after it accused the authorities of "sending some soldiers to the front, while others are busy doing business". To add to Buyoya's woes, 19 trade unions have also threatened an all-out strike in protest at the government's policies.

A statement from the office of the president named the new ministers as follows: Defence Minister - Colonel Cyrille Ndayirukiye (replacing Alfred Nkurunziza) Finance Minister - Charles Nihangaza (replacing Astere Girukwigomba) Commerce Minister - Joseph Ntanyotora (replacing Darius Nahayo) Transport Minister - Cyprien Mbonigaba (replacing Epitace Bayaganakandi) Communal Development Minister - Denis Nshimirimana (replacing Gaspard Ntirampeba) Public Health Minister - Stanislas Ntahobari (replacing Juma Mohamed Kariburyo) Public Works Minister - Gaspard Ntirampeba (replacing Denis Nshimirimana)

The statement said Tuesday night's reshuffle "took into account the difficult period in the country and the general wish to find solutions to the many challenges facing our country". "The new government will have the duty of responding to the challenges with more commitment, dynamism and efficiency. There are certainly many constraints," the statement said.

GREAT LAKES: Regional presidents to meet in Uganda

Burundi President Pierre Buyoya, Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni are to meet in Kampala on Thursday for talks on issues affecting the region, ahead of the UN Security Council debate on the DRC conflict in New York on 24 January. Uganda's Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that the visiting presidents would arrive in Kampala and begin deliberations in the afternoon. "They will be discussing regional matters, particularly peace efforts and security," she said. The talks were due to continue until midday on Friday, Kivengere added. The leaders were afterwards expected to issue a joint statement and address a press conference.

Meanwhile, Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano has taken advantage of the fact that many regional leaders would be in Maputo for his inauguration as president for another five-year term to call an extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for 16 January on the conflict in DRC, the PanAfrican News Agency (PANA) reported on Tuesday. The meeting would "evaluate the work carried out by the commissions instituted under the Lusaka accord" with a view to "taking appropriate measures for the rapid normalisation of the situation" in DRC, one of the newest SADC members, PANA quoted a Mozambican foreign ministry press release as saying.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Mayi-Mayi commander reportedly arrested

The Ugandan army and allies of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) on Monday night arrested the Mayi-Mayi tribal militia's chief instructor, identified only as Fonteni, in Butembo, North Kivu province, the Ugandan daily 'New Vision' said. It quoted local governor Sagasa Malekwa as saying Fonteni, who he claimed had been a DRC army instructor until October 1999, was arrested after a tip-off from residents in Butembo who feared a Mayi-Mayi attack. Fonteni was reputed to have been the overall Mayi-Mayi commander in Beni, Butembo and Bunia, the 'New Vision' added.

DRC: Rebel position papers to be drafted at Uganda retreat

Officials from the three rebel groups - the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) and the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) - who held unification talks in Kabale, southwestern Uganda, at the weekend have been scheduled to attend a six-day retreat at the Kyankwanzi political training school in central Uganda, the 'New Vision' reported. The retreat, for as yet unnamed members of political and military commissions established by the rebels to advance their common platform, would "enable them to handle tasks given to them by the leaders' forum", the report quoted Ugandan political commissar and facilitator of the Kabale talks James Wapakhabulo as saying. The retreat would be used by the rebels to draft political and military position papers for finalisation by the leaders' forum in Kisangani on 4 February for the inter-Congolese dialogue proposed under the Lusaka ceasefire, the paper reported.

DRC: Interior minister discusses border security with Bangui

Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji met the Central African Republic's ambassador to the DRC, Bernard Sissale, on Monday to discuss "issues related to security at their common border and the movement of people and goods across their border," DRC state television reported on Tuesday. "I came to discuss with the minister of state in charge of the interior issues related to the movement of people and goods between our two countries," the report quoted Sissale as saying. The Forces Armees Congolaises (FAC) had on Monday claimed the rebel Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba was undertaking "massive military recruitment" in CAR, especially around Wango, and infiltrating DRC from the neighboring country.

UGANDA: Rebel campaign continues in the west

Twelve people were killed and some 10 others injured in an attack on Bundwarume camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mataisa, Bundibugyo district, on Monday evening by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing police sources. The situation was reported to be tense in Bandwarume, with hundreds of civilians having fled their homes. Monday's deaths brought to 23 the number of civilians and Ugandan soldiers killed by the ADF in Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts between Saturday and Tuesday, the paper stated. The army claimed to have seized a sizeable arms cache and killed at least 29 rebels: eight in Kibaati in the Rwenzori mountains, five in Bugomba after an attempted attack on an IDP camp, and 12 after the army bombarded hideouts in Bundibugyo and Kabarole during the same period, the 'New Vision' added.

UGANDA: Donor pledges well below UN appeal target

The response to the UN's consolidated appeals for humanitarian programmes, launched in Geneva in November, has fallen short of emergency requirements, particularly in Uganda, according to estimates released in a UN statement on Tuesday. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 69 percent of the total US $2.4 billion worldwide appeal had been filled and African appeals had received 72 percent funding. Yet the relief assistance pledged for Uganda, which was in urgent need of funding, was well below the 20 percent threshold, OCHA stated.

RWANDA: Barayagwiza seeks to defend himself

Genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza has asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to dismiss his Kenyan lawyer Justry Nyaberi on the grounds of "incompetence", the independent Hirondelle news agency reported on Tuesday. "I ask you to take account of my decision to defend myself, pending the appointment of new counsels who should be more dedicated and more competent," Barayagwiza said in a letter to tribunal president Judge Navanethem Pillay. The accused had previously claimed his lawyer was "irresponsible, showed a lack of honesty and tended to do a rushed job, carried out at the last minute without serious research". The ICTR Appeals Court ordered Barayagwiza's release on technical legal grounds on 3 November, but Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte subsequently requested a review of the decision based on new facts.

Nairobi, 12 January 2000, 15:45 gmt

[ENDS]

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