Burundi + 2 more

IRIN Update 869 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: UN approves troop deployment

The UN Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to 31 August and authorised Phase II of the UN's support for the Lusaka peace accord. This includes MONUC's expansion by up to 5,537 military personnel - including up to 500 military observers - plus an "appropriate civilian support staff" in areas such as human rights and child protection. The Council also set out clearly the basis on which the phased deployment of these military and civilian personnel would be carried out. The Security Council also called on Secretary-General Kofi Annan "to recommend immediately any additional force requirements necessary to enhance force protection".

DRC: MONUC given 'Chapter 7' mandate

The Council said the Joint Military Commission (JMC), created under the Lusaka agreement to ensure its implementation, "must be established soon on a permanent basis, so that it can react swiftly to events and provide credible and authoritative decisions". Under the terms of Thursday's resolution, MONUC and the JMC are to jointly monitor implementation of the agreement and "investigate any violations". Considering that international troops and civilian personnel would face "tremendous difficulties and risks", the resolution also gave MONUC a 'Chapter 7 mandate' to "protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence".

A MONUC official told IRIN on Friday that the mission had not yet had time to analyse the implications of the resolution, but that it had been assured there would be no deployment without the demonstrated cooperation of the Lusaka signatories. "Unless we get freedom of movement, the mission will not get off the ground," he added.

DRC: Action plan on Lusaka due within 45 days

The Security Council resolution also expanded MONUC's mandate to include the development of an action plan within 45 days for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement. "In particular, it will be necessary to reflect on the question of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the armed groups in order to develop a realistic plan of action," a UN press release stated.

However Canada's representative to the UN, Robert Fowler, voiced concern that the available resources fell "precariously short" of matching MONUC's expanded mandate. While it was "never easy to balance the requirements of an immediate response with the sober consideration of longer-term consequences, cost aversion and outside political realities had, unfortunately, also influenced the Security Council", a UN press release quoted Fowler as saying.

DRC: "Problems" with the resolution, government says

The DRC government on Friday said there were "problems" with the resolution and the proposed deployment. According to the DRC press attache at the Nairobi embassy, Mubima Maneniang Milang, the Security Council was not tackling the problem "at source". He said the first problem was that the US did not want to send its troops but had promised to give financial support. "Judging from the past, it will not honour its promise," he told IRIN. The second problem, he said, was that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was seeking an assurance of safety for the military observers. "What the Security Council should have done first was to tell the people who have invaded us to go ... The Security Council has done its job, but why are they doing it now? It has lasted two years, it is now useless," Milang added.

DRC: Concern over resumed hate radio broadcasts

During this week's Security Council consultations, the UN secretariat had expressed concern over the further deterioration of the security situation in eastern DRC, particularly in the Bukavu area. It noted that the hate radio station [Radio Patriote], which broadcast anti-Tutsi messages in 1998, had begun to broadcast again, a UN press release stated.

DRC: Banyamulenge fearful for their survival

The Congolese ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge issued a statement to draw the international community's attention to the resumed Radio Patriote broadcasts and the distribution of hate leaflets in South Kivu. In the statement, received by IRIN on Friday, the Banyamulenge community said some members of South Kivu civil society were behind the anti-Tutsi sentiments. The statement urged the international community to help the Banyamulenge resume a dialogue with their Congolese compatriots and warned that "forces of extermination" were mobilising against the Banyamulenge.

BURUNDI: Talks on track, despite controversy over Mandela's comments

At the end of the first week of resumed Burundi peace talks, regional analysts remained optimistic despite a statement issued by Tutsi-dominated parties warning they may reject the facilitation. They were angry over comments by the mediator, Nelson Mandela, in which he stated that the Tutsis monopolised power. "Despite the excessive emotions generated by the facilitator's remarks, a permanent rift is out of the question because it was in good faith and not out of malice against the Tutsi," Jan van Eck of the South-Africa based Centre for Conflict Resolution told IRIN. "If it were not for the stature of president Mandela, I am sure some of the parties would have already walked out of the talks." He said it was now necessary to build confidence between the facilitation team and the negotiating sides. Ambassador Welile Nhalapo, a senior adviser to Mandela, accused the eight Tutsi parties of "bad faith" by issuing their declaration.

The Tutsi parties accuse the Nyerere Foundation of trying "mislead" Mandela. "Mandela is a good man, but some members of the facilitation team gave him a wrong briefing to the effect that the Tutsi dominate everything, which is dangerous," Joseph Nzeyimana who leads the RADDES party told IRIN. However, Ambassador Welile Nhalapo said this was untrue. "The facilitator is an experienced man and has various information sources on what is going on in Burundi," he told IRIN.

Fabienne Hara of the Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group, said Mandela's comments on Tutsi domination had two sides. "On one hand he raised taboo issues like the status of the Tutsi which can help in demystifying the ethnic issue," she said. "However the comments can also can have a negative effect, given the sensitivity of the ethnic question based on real fears and undermine the peace process."

BURUNDI: Army concerned by Mandela's remarks

Defence Minister Colonel Cyrille Ndayirukiye, while expressing the armed forces' support for the peace process, stressed the army's "concern" over Mandela's remarks, the Agence burundaise de presse reported on Thursday. He told military officers that Mandela was "clearly misinformed about the realities of Burundi". The country's first vice-president Frederic Bamvuginyumvira added that the issue of integrating rebels into the army "must be seriously studied...without rushing", the agency said. He stressed there must be "accompanying measures aimed at avoiding the risks of the situation getting out of hand and an implosion".

BURUNDI: Parties regroup for transitional government

Sides attending the Arusha peace talks are regrouping into alliances to position themselves for the formation of a transitional government, according to the leader of the monarchist PRP party, Mathias Hitimana. The alliances appear to be slightly different to those formed during the previous rounds of Arusha talks. The predominantly Hutu sides - FRODEBU, CNDD, FROLINA, PALIPEHUTU, PL, RPB and PP - remain under the G7 umbrella, while the government, national assembly and UPRONA form the G3 group. The small Tutsi parties - ANDADDE, RADDES, PSD, PIT - have grouped as G4 and the more radical Tutsi parties - AV-Intwari and PRP - as G2. Three more Tutsi-dominated parties - PARENA, ABASA and INKINZO - have not entered into any alliance. Regional observers say the formation of alliances has prompted intense lobbying and tension, though it is not yet clear how the transitional government will be formed. According to the observers, President Pierre Buyoya and exiled FRODEBU leader Jean Minani have emerged as the main contenders to lead the transition, which will be formed at the end of the Arusha process.

RWANDA: Amnesty concerned over arrested soldiers

The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has expressed concern over the fate of two Rwandan nationals who were allegedly forcibly returned to Rwanda after fleeing the country. In a statement, AI said the two - Bertain Murera, a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and Benjamin Rutabana a musician and demobilised RPA member - fled on 24 January after hearing the Rwandan authorities planned to arrest them. They were allegedly involved in helping the former parliamentary speaker, Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye - who is accused of pro-monarchist sentiments - to flee to Uganda. The two fled first to Burundi and then to Tanzania, where the Tanzanian authorities appear to have arrested them at the request of Rwanda which claims they are wanted in connection with murder and robbery, AI said. It added that according to unconfirmed reports, they may be in military custody in Kigali. Sources told IRIN that Rutabana had been distributing pro-monarchist cassettes in Rwanda. Supporters of the former king, Kigeli V, who was overthrown in 1961, appear to be intensifying their campaign.

RWANDA: Parliament investigates toxic waste storage

The Rwandan parliament has decided to investigate allegations that the government embezzled funds intended for the disposal of toxic waste, AFP reported on Thursday. It said the government had failed to destroy the toxic remains of a cargo of 250 tons of pesticides donated by the European Union, despite an EU grant given in 1995 for that purpose. Members of parliament were "not satisfied with the reasons given by the government as to why what was left of the pesticides was kept in storage" in Kigali, AFP reported.

Nairobi, 25 February 2000, 14:35 gmt

[ENDS]

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