Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 862 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Claims of Ugandan involvement in ethnic conflict

A report by the DRC human rights group, ASADHO, on the ethnic conflict in northeastern DRC traces earlier outbreaks of violence between the Hema and Lendu, listing incidents from as far back as 1911 to illustrate the long-running problems between the two communities. The report says the current phase of fighting was sparked off by an incident in late April 1999 in which a Hema landowner near Kpandroma, evicted Lendu farmers from land adjoining his, with the support of the rebel RCD-ML and Ugandan authorities. A failed peace meeting on 19 June marked the beginning of open hostilities. ASADHO claims that Ugandan soldiers were actively involved in the killing of Lendus.

Jacques Depelchin, a senior official of the RCD-ML, acknowledged that "Ugandan soldiers have been involved" and agreed that a Ugandan commander, Anthony Kyakabale, named by ASADHO, had been implicated in the killings. Depelchin said Kyakabale had been removed and disciplined by the Ugandan authorities in November. Military sources in Uganda confirmed to IRIN that Kyakabale was recalled eight months ago and that he was under investigation for "mismanagement". However, Uganda denies allegations of general involvement, and in a letter to the UN Security Council on 3 February, rejected Congolese accusations of "genocide" in eastern Congo as "baseless".

The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the DRC, Roberto Garreton, said in a statement that if his information on the conflict in Ituri were confirmed, the events constituted "crimes against humanity". Depelchin told IRIN that some Ugandan troops had been paid to act on behalf of the Hema, "for a few dollars here and there", but it had not been Ugandan government policy to back one side in the fighting.

DRC: UN rapporteur concerned over execution of soldiers

Garreton also expressed concern over the expulsion from RCD-controlled territory of the Bukavu bishop, Emmanuel Kataliko, who is now in his home town of Butembo. In a press statement, Garreton said the human rights situation in eastern DRC was rapidly deteriorating. He urged the rebel authorities to provide him with details on the situation regarding the bishop. In another press statement, Garreton expressed "deep consternation" over the summary executions of 19 soldiers in Kinshasa. He said he was particularly dismayed because the executions came a day after the DRC human rights minister had reaffirmed an earlier moratorium on death sentences. The executions were carried out between 28 January and 2 February.

DRC: Holbrooke urges US backing for peacekeeping force

The US envoy to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, has urged US lawmakers to back a peacekeeping force for the DRC, news organisations reported. Addressing the Africa subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee on Tuesday, he warned that the "political and military vacuum in the Congo has drawn in rogue states such as Libya, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Sudan". "These states are seeking a foothold in a destabilised central Africa for weapons sales, political allies, terrorist bases and access to strategic minerals," he said. "The time has come to take the next steps to bring peace to that explosive region." UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended sending 5,537 military personnel to DRC and Holbrooke stressed it was imperative for the US to fulfill its responsibility to help.

BURUNDI: Parties end consultations

Delegates from major parties to the Burundi conflict have ended consultation meetings in Dar es Salaam, ahead of next week's peace talks in Arusha. "The Dar es Salaam meeting was not for making decisions but to harmonise positions," Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told IRIN. He said the meeting was a success because delegates made progress by agreeing to set up commissions "to investigate genocide and other killings at various levels". "Despite different perspectives, delegates submitted their views on other issues such as what type of democracy, the transitional administration and the composition of defence forces," Niyonsaba added. He stressed that the decisions would be made in Arusha.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the facilitation team, Hashim Mbita, told IRIN that the delegates still had to agree on democratic constitutional principles, administrative procedures for the transitional government, electoral procedures and reform of the armed forces. The mediator, former South African President Nelson Mandela, has said he will involve all Burundian sides in the Arusha process.

BURUNDI: Rwanda yet to confirm rebel infighting

Rwanda is yet to confirm reports that more than 300 ex-FAR soldiers and Interahamwe militiamen have been killed during infighting with Burundi rebels. "We have come across media reports mentioning the infighting between the two groups, but we are yet to verify the reports," Rwandan defence ministry spokesman Major Emmanuel Ndahiro told IRIN on Wednesday. "Nevertheless it is an interesting development in the sense that these groups have been allies. This shows that they are mere terrorists and have no cause."

Earlier, Burundi army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani told a news conference the infighting between the Rwandan militias and the FNL, the armed wing of PALIPEHUTU, started when the Rwandans decided to move their camps back to the DRC due to the prospect of the conflict in Burundi ending through the Mandela mediation.

RWANDA: More genocide suspects arrested in Europe

Two high-ranking former military officers have been arrested in Europe on the basis of warrants issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). According to a statement by the Prosecutor on Tuesday, Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was arrested at his home in Montauban, France and Innocent Sagahutu was arrested at his home in Ringkjobing, Denmark. Both are ex-FAR members. The Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, welcomed the arrests and thanked the French and Danish authorities for their cooperation. The two will be transferred to the ICTR detention facilities in Arusha, Tanzania, as soon as this can be arranged.

RWANDA: Habyarimana on updated list of genocide suspects

The Rwandan government has included the late president Juvenal Habyarimana on a new updated list of genocide suspects. "On 31 December last year we issued a new list of genocide suspects," Rwandan Prosecutor General Gerald Gahima told IRIN on Wednesday. "This was done by dropping 643 cases and adding 800 more cases in Category 1. We included the dead suspects to allow the victims to pursue damages."

Legal experts say that by including the names of dead suspects on the list, the Rwandan authorities could automatically confiscate the properties of deceased suspects such as Habyarimana. Rwanda's 1996 genocide law divides the suspects into four categories, with Category 1 carrying a mandatory death sentence.

RWANDA: Parliament approves gacaca tribunals

The Rwandan parliament has unanimously adopted a law establishing the community-based gacaca tribunals, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The amended constitutional law now provides for a sixth branch in the supreme court which will monitor the operations of the gacaca tribunals. The judges will be elected by local people instead of being appointed by the council of magistrates. According to Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo, some high-ranking people such as ministers will have immunity and cannot be prosecuted by the gacaca tribunals.

Nairobi, 16 February 2000, 14:35 gmt


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