Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 842 for the Great Lakes

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BURUNDI: CNDD-FDD expresses support for Mandela mediation

The main rebel group, Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces de defense pour la democratie (CNDD-FDD), has welcomed the speech of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Arusha, Tanzania, at the weekend. In a statement, received by IRIN on Wednesday, CNDD-FDD's spokesman Jerome Ndiho said the movement supported Mandela's remarks in which he called for the Burundi peace process to be "all-inclusive". "Mandela's position is a great step forward...for everybody," the statement said. It added that CNDD-FDD would like to be addressed separately by the facilitation team of Nelson Mandela so as to implement an earlier proposal in which the rebel group called for direct talks with the army. "Thereafter, there will be a better atmosphere for all-inclusive talks," it said.

BURUNDI: Mandela to address Security Council

Mandela, meanwhile, was due to address the UN Security Council on Wednesday in his new capacity as facilitator of the Burundi peace process. Since the killing of two UN workers in Burundi last October, the UN has scaled down operations in the country.

BURUNDI: UNHCHR voices concern over regroupment

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has reiterated concern over the Burundi government's regroupment policy. In a statement issued on Tuesday, she said the policy "violates the civil and political, as well as the economic, social and cultural rights of the affected population". Calling for the immediate disbanding of the regroupment camps, she added that all sides in the conflict were obliged, under international humanitarian law, to guarantee safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance to civilians.

In a press statement earlier this week, Burundi's Permanent Representative to the UN, Marc Nteteruye, recalled that the government implemented the policy most recently in Bujumbura Rural, but also in other areas, to protect the civilian population from rebel attacks and to enable the army to flush out rebels hiding in the villages. As soon as the areas were secure, the population would be allowed home, the statement said.

RWANDA: "Smear campaign", claims ex-speaker

Ex-parliamentary speaker Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye, who was also ousted as an MP on Monday, has denied accusations of trying to cause divisions in the army. Interviewed by the BBC Kinyarwanda service on Tuesday, he claimed there was a "smear campaign" aimed at politically isolating him. "There is no truth in the accusations and I believe Rwandans will end up knowing the truth," he said. "What interest would I have in threatening peace? How could I threaten my own security as speaker of the parliament or as a high-ranking official?" According to news reports, Sebarenzi has been accused of trying to incite soldiers to rebel against the government.

RWANDA: Minor government reshuffle

In a minor government reshuffle on Tuesday, Jean de Dieu Ntiruhungwa has been appointed minister of public works, transport and communication, while Aaron Makuba was brought in as state minister for agriculture. According to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), they filled the places vacated respectively by Vincent Biruta, who has joined parliament, and Laurent Ngirabanzi who resigned after being implicated in the mismanagement of public funds.

UGANDA: Rebel amnesty unworkable - Kazini

Army Chief of Staff Brigadier James Kazini has declared that last year's presidential amnesty for rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) cannot work, and vowed to carry on fighting them. "These rebels do not even understand what the amnesty means," he said on Sunday, according to the independent 'Monitor' daily. "It's an insult to the people and the UPDF [Uganda People's Defence Force] to hear some Kampala politicians talk about the amnesty while rebels continue to burn innocent people alive." Kazini was speaking in the Kirindi displaced people's camp in the western town of Bundibugyo, where ADF rebels massacred about 24 people. According to Kazini, some recently-captured rebels had been recruited in Bugiri, east of Kampala. He added however that the army was "happy with one thing". "They [the rebels] have descended from the [Rwenzori] mountains to Semliki [national] park for water and food, and with our deployment, they cannot easily avoid contact with us," he said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila may not attend New York meeting

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has cast further doubt on his attendance at a UN-organised meeting of key players in the DRC war, due to take place in New York next week. "I never said I would go there," he told the Johannesburg 'Star' in an interview published on Wednesday, reported by news organisations. "I am still waiting for an official invitation." "What are we going to do in New York?" he asked. "There is no reconciliation in New York. In New York there are countries that are involved in the war." He warned that if the peace process failed, "the people of Congo will be forced to defend themselves". Kabila also accused South Africa of arming Uganda- and Rwanda-backed rebels who are trying to topple his government. "South Africa is the compulsory channel of all weapons for Rwanda and Uganda," he said. "South Africa has distinguished itself by its campaign of destabilisation." The South African government has denied any bias in the DRC war.

DRC: Rebels reportedly seizing CAR boats

DRC rebels of the Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo (MLC), led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, are reportedly seizing boats from the Central African Republic (CAR) on the Ubangi river between the two countries, Gabonese radio said. It quoted a CAR government official as saying boats "are being systematically seized" by the MLC. Some travellers added that the rebels were only seizing boats carrying food and fuel. Meanwhile, the neighbouring Congolese (Brazzaville) government has banned all river traffic near the CAR border because of mounting insecurity along the waterway, the radio reported.

Nairobi, 19 January 2000, 13:45 gmt

[ENDS]

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