Burundi + 4 more

IRIN Update 860 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Regional summit slated for next week

A regional heads of state summit to discuss the implementation of the Lusaka peace agreement is scheduled for 24 February in the Zambian capital Lusaka. "The tentative date communicated to us is 24 February," Patrick Mazimhaka, Rwandan Minister in the president's office told IRIN on Monday. "To us the sticking points are the massive violation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, negative talk exhibited both in the New York and Maputo meetings, the Security Council debate about the deployment of the peacekeeping force."

Meanwhile, Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi told IRIN that the Joint Military Commission (JMC ), charged with overseeing the Lusaka accord, will meet at the end of the week and will be followed by a meeting of the political committee co-chaired by Uganda and Zimbabwe.

DRC: Congo facilitator to meet rebels in Kampala and Kigali

The former president of Botswana, Ketumile Masire, who is facilitating inter-Congolese talks, is due to meet Congolese rebels in Rwanda and Uganda this week. "The facilitator has officially requested the Rwandan government to hold a meeting with the Goma-based RCD this Friday, which is in the spirit of the Lusaka peace agreement," Patrick Mazimhaka, Rwandan Presidency Minister, told IRIN on Monday.

Other Congolese rebel groups - the RCD-ML based in Bunia and the MLC based in Gbadolite - will meet Masire in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "I have seen reports to that effect...he is free to meet them here," Amama Mbabazi, Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs told IRIN.

Meanwhile, the facilitator last week held talks with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila in Kinshasa, where he was quoted as being "optimistic" by DRC state television. There were meetings with opposition politicians, civil society and diplomats. No date has yet been set for the inter-Congolese party dialogue.

DRC: South Kivu bishop prevented from landing in Goma

Civil society groups in South Kivu have condemned the refusal by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) to allow the South Kivu bishop Emmanuel Kataliko to disembark from his plane in Goma on Saturday. Sources in the region told IRIN he has since gone to his home area of Bunia, after the RCD declared him persona non grata, accusing him of "preaching ethnic hatred". In an interview with rebel-controlled Goma radio on Monday, RCD vice-president Jean-Pierre Ondekane said the bishop was "calling his flock to violence". He alleged the bishop had called on the people to rise against the authorities and had urged civil disobedience in RCD-controlled territory. RCD spokesman Kin-Key Mulumba added that his group was responsible for maintaining peace in that part of the country. "In that respect we cannot allow the bishop to go around telling people to kill others," he told IRIN. "The Catholic church has a history of promoting genocide in this region and we do not want to take chances. Eventually the bishop will be free to come back when we politically control the situation."

DRC: Concern over "growth of ethnic hatred"

Meanwhile, the RCD's justice department on Saturday expressed concern over the growth of ethnic hatred in eastern DRC, which, it said, was taking on "dangerous proportions". The department chief, Jean-Marie Emungu Ewumbu, cited by the Rwanda News Agency, said the RCD would not tolerate "such poison". He noted that the pirate station, Radio Patriote, had started re-transmitting hate messages and that tracts had appeared calling for the removal of "Rwandans, Ugandans, Burundians and all their Nilotic and white allies".

DRC: Goma hit by strike

Goma, in North Kivu, on Monday was hit by a general strike. Independent sources in the town told IRIN that shops, schools and the main market were closed as the RCD authorities set up road blocks. For the last two weeks, Bukavu, the main town in South Kivu, has also been hit by a strike. "This morning we had problems in Goma but now the situation is calming down, " RCD spokesman Kin-Key Mulumba told IRIN. "By the end of the day the situation will normalise."

DRC: Marburg fever suspected in Durba

Sporadic suspected cases of Marburg haemorrhagic fever have been reported from Durba in northeastern DRC. A WHO statement said a new case of the disease had been confirmed by virological tests performed by the National Institute for Virology (NIV), South Africa. The patient, a 30 year-old gold miner in Durba, became ill on 8 January this year. Fifteen suspected cases were reported during November and December 1999. The report said clinical samples from 12 people were submitted to NIV for testing. "All of these were found to be negative for Marburg and other pathogens," WHO said.

DRC: Government approves new political party

DRC Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji last week approved a new political party - the Union de la gauche congolaise (UGC), DRC state television reported. It quoted the party's co-founder Gifuza Ghinda as saying the UGC was a "progressive party" formed in August 1999 by "progressive Congolese" from the country's 11 provinces. However, the UGC's political action and programme will be revealed at its first meeting whose date is yet to be disclosed.

UGANDA: Museveni directing war in west

Last Friday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni flew to the war-affected district of Bundibugyo in western Uganda to meet military commanders and local people. "The visit is both of military and political significance," Captain Shaban Bantariza, the army spokesman in western Uganda, told IRIN on Monday. "As commander-in-chief, the president is obliged to go to where there are problems to give his wisdom to the commanders and the troops. Given his military background, his input in crucial. Politically, the local people have been calling on the president to visit them and assure them that the bad situation is temporary."

On Monday, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported that despite the president's presence in the war-torn area, rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed five people over the weekend. Museveni has so far addressed public rallies and called on displaced people to return home, as the army is "taking an upper hand" in the war. An estimated 140,000 people have been displaced.

BURUNDI: Meeting between Buyoya and FDD denied

The Burundi presidency has denied reports of a meeting between President Pierre Buyoya and FDD rebel leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye in South Africa. In a press statement, received by IRIN on Monday, the presidency described the reports as "pure indoctrination". "President Buyoya never met the FDD chief in South Africa", the statement said, adding that the FDD delegation was still awaited in the country. The statement warned against "misinformation" which sought to "distract the Burundi people...from the path of peace".

BURUNDI: UN representative ends visit

The UN Secretary-General's Representative on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Francis Deng, has welcomed the Burundi government's announcement that it will dismantle regroupment camps and its initiation of the decision in Maramvya on Monday last week. Deng, who ended his six-day official visit to Burundi on Friday, encouraged the government to "pursue and implement" the decision to dismantle the camps and called on the international community to provide appropriate international assistance to this end. A statement from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Deng was particularly pleased that a meeting was convened by the government with representatives of the international community with a view to jointly planning and preparing support to persons returning during the dismantling process. Deng urged the government and the international community to work together to ensure that as a minimum, the basic humanitarian assistance and protection needs of displaced people were addressed. "In particular, he encourages measures to be taken to ensure that the displaced have regular access to their fields in time for the planting season this month," OCHA said.

TANZANIA: DRC, Burundi security still troubling

Prime Minister Patrick Sumaye has said the security situation in Burundi and DRC is still unsatisfactory and continued fighting in the two countries has contributed to the swelling of refugee numbers in Tanzania. In an address to parliament on Friday, reported by Tanzanian radio, he said his country was anxious to see lasting peace in the two countries, and praised the appointments of former South African president Nelson Mandela and former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire as mediators for the Burundi and DRC conflicts respectively.

RWANDA: Appeals Court to visit Arusha tribunal

The Appeals Court was due to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on Monday, news oganisations reported. According to the Internews service, the team of five judges will hear a series of cases that could have "an explosive impact at the court". It said they would hear the appeals of genocide suspects Omar Serushago and Laurent Semanza to have their sentences reduced, as well as a motion filed by the chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte in the Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza case against whom charges were dropped on procedural grounds. The Rwandan government is also expected to address the court and ask that if released, Barayagwiza should be freed in Tanzania or returned to Rwanda.

Nairobi, 14 February 2000, 14:50 gmt


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