Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 861 for the Great Lakes

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UNITED NATIONS
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: Church demands return of Bukavu bishop

The Catholic church in Bukavu has called for the return of the town's bishop, Emmanuel Kataliko, who has been declared persona non grata by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) authorities. In a statement, it said that until he came back, there would be an end to church worship in the Bukavu diocese. It also called on worshippers to abstain from violence and street protests. The statement condemned Kataliko's expulsion from RCD-controlled territory at the weekend, saying claims that he had been inciting ethnic hatred were a "defamation". The rebel authorities have accused the Catholic church of being behind a civil disobedience campaign in Bukavu.

The Vatican meanwhile confirmed Kataliko had been prevented from returning to his diocese and said he was currently in his home town of Butembo. A Vatican statement, reported by MISNA news agency, called for the "unconditional return of the bishop among his people" and said it would use diplomatic channels to "remedy such an unpleasant episode that seriously violates the rights of the church".

DRC: Goma calm, as strike persists in Bukavu

Goma was reported to be calm on Tuesday, following a general strike the previous day. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that students are attending classes and half the shops have reopened. Media reports on Monday indicated that supporters of the strike set up road barricades and burnt tyres, which prompted the RCD authorities to deploy troops on the streets.

The Goma-based based RCD blamed the strikes in both Goma and Bukavu on DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila's "agents". "Our view is that this is one of the tactics of Kabila to continue with the war," RCD security chief Bizima Karaha told IRIN. "He first armed the Interahamwe and Mayi-Mayi to fight us and failed. Now he is trying to infiltrate the population and cause civil disobedience in areas under our control." RCD Vice-President Jean-Pierre Ondekane is currently in Bukavu in a bid to restore order to South Kivu which has been "intoxicated by Kabila's media", RCD spokesman Kin Kiey Mulumba told the Rwanda News Agency (RNA). He said the mission was intended to explain the RCD's aims. Mulumba accused South Kivu pressure groups of "stirring up social tension". "This is a major problem for us and we must ensure security at all costs," he said.

DRC: Bunia authorities to cooperate with humanitarian agencies

Local leaders in Bunia, northeastern DRC, have committed themselves to cooperating with humanitarian agencies in the area during a workshop organised by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) last Friday. The main objective of the workshop was to begin a process leading to the equitable and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid to a needy population, humanitarian sources said. The area has been wracked by bloody inter-ethnic fighting between the Lendu and Hema communities.

The workshop resolved that local authorities and community leaders from both sides of the conflict should accompany humanitarian actors in the field. Community and religious leaders were called upon to popularise the understanding, concept and nature of humanitarian assistance.

RWANDA: Jail term upheld against genocide suspect

The Appeals Court of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday confirmed a 15-year jail sentence against genocide suspect Omar Serushago who had appealed for a reduced sentence. The Hirondelle news agency quoted presiding judge Claude Jorda as saying the appeal was rejected and reasons would be given in writing as soon as possible. Serushago, a former Rwandan Interahamwe militiaman, was sentenced in February 1999 after pleading guilty to the genocide charges against him. It was for this reason he appealed for a lesser sentence. Hirondelle pointed out that the Serushago case was the first to close at the ICTR. The six other people so far sentenced all have appeals pending.

BURUNDI: Peace process given "new lease of life"

An analytical report on the Burundi peace process, due to resume in Arusha on 21 February, noted it has been given a new lease of life with the mediation of former South African president Nelson Mandela. The report, by Jan van Eck of the South-Africa based Centre for Conflict Resolution, said the chances of progress in trying to reach a compromise agreement had increased significantly. However, the report stressed that at the same time the Burundian sides were negotiating within the framework of an "extremely negative internal and regional environment". A worsening economic situation, coupled with heightened insecurity, had led to a highly volatile situation. "The fact that the Arusha process has not led to an improvement in either the security or economic situation, is resulting in more and more people seriously questioning whether it is indeed worthwhile to continue negotiating," the report warned. It concluded that the new mediation could play a major role in promoting trust and confidence among the sides, without which a meaningful agreement would be difficult to achieve. [copies of the report available from the following email address: emyburgh@ccr.uct.ac.za]

BURUNDI: Prospects for resuming donor aid

There is fear of economic collapse if donor aid to Burundi does not resume, according to experts. "There is no economy to talk about, the foreign reserves are at a minimum which has led to the emergence of a huge black market," Burundian economist Prime Nyamoya told IRIN on Tuesday. "If it was not for the strong subsistence economy, the situation would have got out of hand." He said the "short term cure" was for traditional donors such as the World Bank and the European Union to resume economic cooperation. Foreign aid to Burundi was suspended in 1996 when Major Pierre Buyoya was brought to power in a military coup. The suspension of aid followed a regional economic embargo that lasted 30 months.

In April this year a meeting of the World Bank board of directors is expected to consider an interim programme of economic aid to Burundi worth US $20 million to US $35 million over the next two years, according to the 'Economist Intelligence Unit'. In a report, it said the main reason for the interim resumption of aid was to prevent a further worsening of the standard of living and to stabilise the economy during the peace process. Donors are pegging the resumption of full economic aid to the success of the Arusha talks.

UGANDA: Senior army officer arrested, army reshuffle denied

A senior Ugandan military officer, Major Hajji Kimbowa, based in the west, has been arrested, the semi-official 'New Vision' daily reported. It said the arrest was ordered by Chief of Staff Brigadier James Kazini after more than six army units under the arrested officer's command were simultaneously attacked by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels. A number of soldiers were killed in the attacks.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan army on Tuesday denied there had been a reshuffle in the western command where the army is involved in military operations against the ADF. "The media created a wrong impression that there was a reshuffle," the army spokesman in western Uganda, Captain Shaban Batarinza, told IRIN. "What happened is that people have been given new assignments in addition to what they were already doing. It is common practice in operational areas."

Nairobi, 15 February 2000, 14:15 gmt

[ENDS]

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