Burundi + 2 more

IRIN Update 856 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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BURUNDI: Rebel sources confirm fighting between Hutu groups

Burundian rebel sources confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday media reports of fierce fighting between mainly-Hutu Burundian and Rwandan rebel groups. The BBC had previously reported that more than 200 Rwandan rebels had been killed in the fighting. However on Tuesday Burundi state radio reported 100 had been killed in the fighting.

A Burundi army spokesman said the army had sought to take advantage of the rift between the two groups by launching its own anti-rebel operations in the area.

"Fighting between the two groups has been going on since the night of 31 January, our information is that they are fighting over dwindling resources. We have reacted by attacking both groups to force them to disband," Burundi army spokesman Longin Minani told IRIN on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the main Burundian rebel group, CNDD-FDD, has denied involvement in the fighting. "Our forces are not involved in the fighting, the last time we fought it was against government troops." Jerome Ndiho, FDD spokesman told IRIN on Tuesday.

In the past both the Rwandan rebels and Burundi rebels have been allied in the fight against their Tutsi-dominated governments of Bujumbura and Kigali. The current fighting has been concentrated in Bujumbura Rurale province.

BURUNDI: UN envoy for Internally Displaced persons in Burundi

The UN Secretary-General's Representative on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Francis M Deng is currently on a five-day visit to Burundi at the government's invitation, a statement from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. "The purpose of the visit is to ascertain developments since his last visit," it said.

Deng is also making the visit at the request of international humanitarian and development agencies and NGOs concerned about the plight of the internally displaced of Burundi which has reportedly affected 12 per cent of the population - some 800,000 people.

Deng is set to meet Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, government officials, the donor and diplomatic communities, UN agencies and NGOs besides visiting a number of IDP camps. His first visit to the country was in 1994.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: US wants Congress to back UN mission

US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said on Monday Washington would begin seeking Congressional approval for a UN military observer mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the next day or two. Reuters quoted him as saying the subject would probably be discussed on Wednesday. The US administration has promised to notify Congress two weeks before the final Security Council vote on a DRC peacekeeping operation which would require substantial US financing.

The current proposal is for 500 observers backed by 5,000 support and security staff. Holbrooke noted that despite the humiliating failures of past UN peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia: "the stakes were too high to ignore Congo's contagion of crisis". Holbrooke warned that failure to bring peace to a country the size of western Europe could trigger Africa's first continent-wide war.

"If the conflicts there... spiral out of control, they could destabilise a broad swathe of central and southern Africa," Holbrooke said. "It is self-evident that if the UN does not do what it can to assist those who want peace in the Congo, the result will be a certain humanitarian and security disaster, he said.

DRC: Wamba reiterates support for Lusaka deal

Wamba dia Wamba, leader of the Kisangani faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has reiterated his support for the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. In a letter addressed to all Congolese, he said the deal offered an opportunity for all Congolese to come together and unite and "put an end for once and for all not only to a regime, and an individual but to a system of government which has maintained the Congolese people in servitude."

RWANDA: Rwanda involved in North Kasai fighting

Rwanda has for the first time since the signing of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement last year confirmed that its troops have engaged Congolese government forces and their allies in North Kasai province.

"We exercised maximum restraint until Kabila and his allies moved from their positions and attacked us, this action is to register our concern with the way ceasefire violators are being treated," Major Emmanuel Ndahiro advisor to the Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame told IRIN on Tuesday. The government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila has so far made no comment on the allegations of renewed fighting.

RWANDA: Genocide suspect denies all charges

Former Rwandan army officer and genocide suspect Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi on Monday denied all charges levelled against him when he appeared at Bow Street magistrates' court in Britain. News organisations quoted Muvunyi's lawyer Michael Fisher as saying his client was "the man named on the tribunal's charge sheet, but not guilty of the crimes which it described." He was arrested on Saturday after police received an extradition warrant from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which indicated that Muvunyi was wanted for genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity, including rape.

"He never took part in these acts, he did not instigate them and did not incite others to commit them," the independent Hirondelle quoted Fisher as telling the court. Muvunyi was denied bail by the court, but was given 15 days to appeal his extradition to the court in Arusha, northern Tanzania.

The ICTR on Tuesday expressed satisfaction at the British court's decision. "We are happy ... and we are confident that he will end up here soon," Hirondelle quoted ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu as saying.

Nairobi, 8 February 2000 15:00 gmt


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