Burundi + 2 more

IRIN Update 867 for the Great Lakes

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

BURUNDI: Buyoya unhappy with Mandela's grasp of issues

At the ongoing peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, Burundian President Pierre Buyoya has criticised the facilitator, Nelson Mandela, for "simplifying" Burundi's problems. The former South African president on Tuesday accused Burundi's leaders of a "lack of urgency" in finding peace and told them this "suggests you don't mind people being slaughtered". Buyoya replied that Mandela did not understand the issues, news organisations reported.

Tutsi-dominated parties, meanwhile, have reacted angrily to Mandela's remarks that the Tutsi minority should relinquish its monopoly on power. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, who leads the hardline PARENA party, told IRIN in Arusha that Mandela was seeking to raise the ethnic issue. "The Hutu-Tutsi question should not have been raised by the facilitator because we had already discussed it, unless he wants to take us back to the nature of the conflict," Bagaza said. Another Tutsi leader, Mathias Hitimana of the monarchist Parti Royaliste Parlementaire (PRP), said it was "wrong to promote the idea that the Tutsi monopolise everything". "This sends a bad signal back home," he told IRIN. "The Tutsi are likely to be scared of any compromise from the talks, while the Hutu will interpret the comments as supporting their cause."

However Jean Minani, who leads the exiled wing of the opposition FRODEBU party, said the issue should be discussed. "We must talk to those who are complaining and find out exactly what they are worried about," he said.

BURUNDI: Government prepared to study compromise document

Sources attending the talks said a compromise proposal is to be presented to all the parties for scrutiny. Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told IRIN his government was prepared to study the proposals and make its comments. All the sides have reportedly agreed to receive the document.

BURUNDI: US stresses link with DRC conflict

US President Bill Clinton on Tuesday addressed the meeting by satellite link and warned that the conflict could spread beyond Burundi's borders if a solution was not found. "It requires courage for these leaders to accept the risks of peacemaking," he said. Clinton also pledged to "create the economic conditions" to sustain peace, but did not elaborate. The US envoy to the Great Lakes, Howard Wolpe, who is attending the talks, spoke of the "enormous positive psychological impact" on Burundians of the president's address, coupled with the fact that their country was currently the focus of international attention. Stressing the "definite linkage" between the DRC and Burundi conflicts, he told IRIN the US would advise all sides in the DRC war not to obstruct the Burundi peace process and encourage concerned parties to be involved. "There is a need for creativity and a comprehensive regional approach," he stressed.

RWANDA: Rights groups probing soldiers' arrests

The human rights group Amnesty International says it is investigating the case of four Rwandan soldiers who fled to Burundi and Tanzania, and who were allegedly forcibly repatriated to Rwanda. The four are reportedly members of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). According to the BBC Kinyarwanda service, they fled after receiving death threats in Rwanda. Some reports claim the four, who include a well-known singer Benjamin Rutabana, had been tortured. Rwanda's National Human Rights Commission is also looking into the incident. The Rwandan authorities have confirmed the men are back in the country, news organisations said. Regional analysts told IRIN the arrests are probably connected with the former parliamentary speaker, Joseph Sebarenzi, who recently fled to Uganda amid allegations he was working to bring back the former king, Kigeli V. The analysts point out there appear to be growing divisions within the Rwandan army.

RWANDA: Barayagwiza must be tried, Rwanda says

The defence counsel for genocide suspect, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, has argued that the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has no jurisdiction to conduct a review sought by the prosecutor. According to an ICTR press statement, the lawyer, Carmella Marchessault, said the prosecution had "offered no new facts". The prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, on Tuesday opened her case for a reversal of the Appeals Court's decision to free Barayagwiza on procedural grounds. For his part, the Rwandan prosecutor-general Gerald Gahima, said it was the Tribunal's duty to try the suspect or surrender him to Rwandan jurisdiction.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Security Council resolution awaited

The UN Security Council on Tuesday continued its consultations on the DRC, ahead of its expected adoption of a resolution approving the expansion of the current UN mission (MONUC). The total deployment will consist of over 5,000 military personnel including 500 observers. A statement from the Council said "some progress" had been made on the text of the draft resolution, but it was still too early to tell whether it would be ready to hold a formal vote on the resolution by Wednesday.

DRC: Regional leaders meet in Lusaka

Meanwhile, regional leaders began a one-day meeting in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Wednesday, sources told IRIN. The meeting is a follow-up to the UN Security Council meeting on the DRC last month, which also brought together regional leaders in a bid to boost the Lusaka peace accord. Those taking part in Wednesday's closed-door meeting include presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Laurent-Desire Kabila of the DRC, Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and the Angolan defence minister.

DRC: "Child Protection Advisers" to serve with MONUC

The UN has appointed two "Child Protection Advisers" (CPAs) to serve with MONUC, as part of a a "new and ground-breaking" dimension to its peacekeeping operations. A UN statement on Tuesday announced that CPAs would advise relevant peacekeeping operations throughout the world and coordinate with UN agencies, NGOs and national authorities. The role of the CPAs was to help ensure the "priority concern" of children's rights throughout the peacekeeping process. "This is a real breakthrough for children affected by conflict," the statement said.

DRC: UNITA rebels constitute "wider Great Lakes problem"

The preliminary findings of a UN expert panel on Angola's UNITA movement said support for the rebels was more on an "individual basis" than on behalf of governments. The team has been touring African countries, including the Great Lakes region, to establish whether UN sanctions against UNITA are being implemented. Ronald Kayanja, the public affairs officer of UNDP in Uganda, which has been coordinating the team's visit to that country, said the panel was looking into possible violations of the sanctions throughout the region. "It has and will visit many more countries in the region since the war in Angola has, in a way, become related to that in the DRC and is now a wider Great Lakes problem," he told IRIN on Tuesday. Some of the other countries to be visited include the DRC, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, he added. "But the team's focus is more on UNITA and the flow of arms to the group and its violations of the UN sanctions and not really on the countries visited," he stressed. The team will later visit big diamond companies in Europe to find out where they obtain their supplies from. The team is due to present its findings to the UN Security Council next month.

DRC: Price increases follow strike

While normal commercial activities have resumed in the Bukavu area, market prices have increased since last week's general strike, independent sources in the region told IRIN. They said some products were now more scarce on local markets, and the exchange rate of the Congolese franc against one US dollar had increased from 18 to 22 francs. Meanwhile, in Goma, most parents have sent their children back to church-run schools in response to an invitation made in the town's Catholic churches during Sunday Mass, the sources said. Last week's strikes followed 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.

DRC: Strike reported in Kindu

L'Association pour la Defense des Droits de l'Enfant (ADDE), a local Maniema NGO, announced that Kindu had joined Bukavu in a campaign of civil disobedience. An ADDE statement, issued on Friday, said protesters in Maniema province denounced "killings and looting by the RCD and foreign forces" but "remained committed to a non-violent struggle". Some reports indicated a strike also took place in Butembo, North Kivu, on Friday.

DRC: Banyamulenge group calls for Rwandan pullout

Meanwhile, the Banyamulenge group, Forces Republicaines Federalistes (FRF), called in a 14 February statement for the withdrawal of Rwandan forces from the DRC, accusing them of "systematic looting", while protesting the distribution of weapons to militia in the Uvira region. Threats to the Banyamulenge, ethnic Tutsi Congolese, were one of the triggers for the Rwandan intervention and Congolese rebellion of 1996-1997. Now, however, the statement says the presence of the Rwandan army is turning the local population against them. The FRF blames elements in Bukavu civil society for "equating Banyamulenge Tutsis with foreigners", causing "thousands of deaths since 1995".

DRC: Decrease in cholera cases

The number of cholera cases has decreased in Bukavu since the start of the year, humanitarian sources said. Between 7-13 February, a total of 28 cholera cases were reported in the city's treatment centre, down from 73 cases registered during the first week of January. Cholera cases were also reported in other areas of South Kivu, but no specific data was available, they said. Meanwhile, local authorities in the Kalehe area of the province have reported the presence of some 13,000 displaced people along Lake Kivu between Kalehe and Minova, the sources said.

Nairobi, 23 February 2000, 14:20 gmt


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