Burundi + 4 more

IRIN Update 855 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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BURUNDI: Mandela meets Buyoya

Former South African president Nelson Mandela on Monday met Burundian President Pierre Buyoya in Cape Town, an official of the South African Department of Foreign Affairs told IRIN.

Both Mandela and Buyoya, addressing journalists after their meeting, said they had made progress in steps to bring peace to Burundi. "I am very much encouraged," Mandela said. "The Burundians realise that the responsibility for bringing about peace is theirs."

Buyoya called the meeting "very positive". "We have made a step in the understanding of the Burundi question and in the search for a solution. These consultations must continue."

Mandela also said he hoped to meet rebel leader Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the leader of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD), who is also reported to be in South Africa. Mandela, however, could not say when or where the meeting would be, saying only: "This process must be all-inclusive. It must not just be the 18 political parties but the armed groups on the ground as well. Otherwise there is no guarantee the armed groups will abide by anything we agree at Arusha."

Jan Van Eck, a consultant with the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution told IRIN: "For the first time the issue of a ceasefire should be gently discussed... However, the introduction of the fighting groups into the peace process, will require a change of the rules after consultations with other parties."

Mandela's meeting with Buyoya is a precursor to the next round of peace talks to be held in Arusha, Tanzania on 21 February.

BURUNDI: Burundi regroupment camp closed

A Burundi regroupment camp at Maramvya in Bujumbura Rurale was closed by the government on Monday, Burundi army spokesman Longin Minani told IRIN. He added the process of dismantling the controversial camps would "continue depending on security". "There are people who were excited about the destruction of the camp although several others refused to leave because they are afraid they would be attacked," Minani said. "For such, we allow them to stay on because it is our duty to protect them," he added.

Humanitarian organisations contacted by IRIN on Monday said they had not confirmed the closure of the camp.

Last week Burundian Foreign Minister Severin Ntahomvukiye was quoted by the Burundi radio as saying the dismantling would take place "in several phases" but begin on Monday 7 February. According to Ntahomvukiye, the closing of the sites is not due to pressure on the government. "Closing of the camps will be carried out progressively depending on the satisfactory restoration of security," he said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Local NGOs report inhabitants fleeing

Local NGOs have confirmed that recent fighting around Shabunda in South Kivu has caused fresh displacement of local populations. The reports from a consortium of local NGOs, backed by the Brussels-based Reseau Europeen pour le Congo (REC), maintain the people were not fleeing Mayi-Mayi warriors, but conquering rebels in the Armee nationale congolaise (ANC) and Rwandan troops.

Last Thursday, rebel-held Goma radio reported that the ANC had retaken Shabunda from a combination of DRC government troops, Mayi-Mayi warriors, Rwandan ex-FAR and Interahamwe who had apparently occupied the town for five days. The NGOs confirmed Shabunda had been retaken, but added that several hundred families arriving in Bukavu had fled reprisals from ANC troops who had killed, looted and burned houses in apparent retaliation for the local population's support for the Mayi-Mayi. The NGOs accused the Rwandan and Ugandan governments of conducting a smear campaign against the Mayi-Mayi in order to try and hide the resentment felt by the inhabitants of the region to the outsiders. However, the situation is further confused by reports of abuses by a separate force of Interahamwe and Rwandan ex-FAR also active in the area and of occasional clashes between the latter and Mayi-Mayi.

DRC: Security Council backs Annan's proposed force

Security Council members last Friday expressed support for Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recent proposal for a UN force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They, however, voiced deep concern over reports of recent massacres in eastern DRC and condemned "all human rights abuses in the country". Annan had recommended the deployment of some 5,537 peace keepers in four reinforced infantry groups.

According to Assistant-Secretary-General Hedi Annabi the troops would not serve as an "interposition force" nor would they be expected to extract military observers or civilian personnel. "The force would not have the capacity to protect the civilian population from armed attack," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard quoted him as saying.

DRC: Rebel authorities repatriate 132 Rwandans

The office of the governor of North Kivu has repatriated 132 Rwandan refugees from collection points at Mkanda, Tombo and ABC-Goma, rebel radio in Goma reported on Monday. It said the refugees came from Rwanda's prefectures of Gisenyi, Byumba, Gikongoro, Gitarama and Kigali-Rurale.

BURUNDI-TANZANIA: Thousands flee fighting in Burundi to Tanzania

UNHCR last week said armed conflict and house burning had driven about 24,000 Burundians to Tanzania since 1 January. It said refugees interviewed at the border reported continued fighting between the Burundi army and the rebel forces. "Most of the refugees are women and children who say the men are either arrested or disappear while participating in compulsory night neighbourhood patrols organised by the military," the agency told journalists at UN headquarters in New York. "Many of the newly arriving children suffer from malnourishment and malaria, evidence that the food and health situations in Burundi appear to be precarious," UNHCR said. It said that as of 31 January it is assisting 440,000 refugees in Tanzania of whom 330,000 are Burundian, 101,000 Congolese and 20,000 Rwandan.

RWANDA: Genocide suspect arrested in London

The Rwandan government has welcomed the arrest in London of Tharcisse Muvunyi, a genocide suspect over the weekend. "Last month we sent a delegation to London to demand his extradition to Rwanda, but our request was turned down on grounds that we have a death penalty. We requested them to hand him over to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and we are happy they have done so," Rwandan Minister for Justice Jean-De Dieu Mucho told IRIN on Monday.

Rwandan authorities are seeking a death penalty for 2,133 suspects considered principal architects of the 1994 genocide.

UGANDA: Two army officers reported dead in ADF ambush

For the first time since the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) launched their rebellion in western Uganda, media reports say they have killed two senior Ugandan government soldiers. The semi-official 'New Vision' reported last Thursday that two army captains died in an ambush in a national park in Bundibugyo district. "I have to cross check the details of that report," Captain Shaban Bantariza, army spokesman in western Uganda, told IRIN on Monday.

The Allied Democratic Forces rebels stepped up their attacks on government troops and civilians in December last year, prompting the government to deploy thousands of troops in the area.

Nairobi, 7 February 2000, 16:00 gmt

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