Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 872 for the Great Lakes

News and Press Release
Originally published
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: MONUC denies flight restrictions

The UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) on Wednesday denied reports that its military observer flights had been grounded by the authorities in Kinshasa this week. Last week MONUC denied the DRC permission to conduct a security inspection of an aircraft, and some reports said flights had been stopped as a result. The mission had lost one flight that day, but flights had continued as normal since then, except some cancelled due to weather conditions, a MONUC official told IRIN. While there continued to be misunderstandings and "bureaucratic friction" between the UN mission and Kinshasa, things were going reasonably well at the moment, and the pace of work was really hotting up in preparation for the Phase 2 deployment approved by the UN Security Council last Thursday, the official added. The mission was currently preparing to receive the "initial enablers" - logisticians and communications staff, along with their security cover - for the new deployment. Several hundred more UN personnel were expected to deploy in four main bases - Mbandaka, Kisangani, Kindu and Mbuji-Mayi - in the next 40 to 60 days.

That deployment would see a whole new profile for MONUC, with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet - expected in the DRC in the next week or so - likely to adopt a more robust attitude and lay down stricter ground rules on freedom of movement and security clearances for personnel, a UN official stated. For instance, MONUC had still not secured DRC government clearance to deploy in Mbandaka, and one point of Miyet's visit would be to secure its freedom to do so, he added. At the moment, the mission was asking permission for each deployment, flight and field mission but a substantially bigger MONUC operation would not be able or willing to work within the current system, which was overly restrictive and bureaucratic, he said.

DRC: US report on human rights practices

Both sides in the DRC conflict have used excessive force and committed numerous abuses, the US State Department said in its 1999 country reports on human rights practices, released this week. "There was widespread reporting throughout the year of killings and other human rights abuses by both pro and anti-government forces," the report said. The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) and Rwandan forces had committed repeated mass killings, generally in reprisals for Mayi-Mayi attacks, while DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila "coordinated operations" with the Mayi-Mayi and Hutu militias, which also reportedly killed many civilians, the report said.

"Libyan-trained" CPPs restrict free speech

The Comites du pouvoir populaire (CPPs) - created by Kabila in 1999 after he dissolved the AFDL - monitored the activities of citizens in neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces and reported speech critical of the government to security forces, the State Department report said. The CPPs, which the report said were inspired and trained by Libya, were not part of the formal state structure but "were clearly agencies of the Kabila regime." Several university lecturers in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi were arrested after CPP members denounced them for questioning the government, according to the report.

Anti-Tutsi propaganda continues

Mass extrajudicial killings of Tutsis, witnessed in government-controlled areas in 1998, stopped last year and government officials no longer instigated mob violence against unarmed Tutsis, the report continued. "Government detention of at least some Tutsis became increasingly protective rather than punitive," the report stated. However, it said serious governmental and society violence and discrimination against Tutsis continued, and the government released 1,341 Tutsis from detention only on condition that they leave the country through internationally-sponsored relocation programmes. Government officials and state media continued to publish and broadcast anti-Tutsi propaganda, while security forces, citizens and CPP members were urged to uncover Tutsis in hiding, according to the report. "Senior government officials and state media continued to represent the war as part of a larger supranational conflict between Bantus and Nilotics," it added.

DRC: Rutshuru villagers relocated

As a result of a recent increase in attacks by armed groups on villages in the Rutshuru area of North Kivu province, Rwandan forces have reportedly started forcibly relocating some area residents into camps, independent sources in the region told IRIN on Monday. They said people were being removed form their villages in the Tongo, Kibirizi and Bambu areas, and thousands of displaced people had arrived over the last few weeks at several camp sites, including at Kanyabayonga and Nyanzale. Affected civilian populations in Rutshuru were in urgent need of assistance, but the current level of insecurity made it very difficult to deliver aid to the area, the sources added.

DRC: EU calls for bishop's return

The European Union (EU) on Tuesday called on rebels and the Rwandan government to allow South Kivu bishop Emmanuel Kataliko to return to his Bukavu diocese, news agencies reported. "The EU exhorts the rebel leaders of the RCD-Goma, in keeping with the verbal promise they made, as well as the Rwandan government, to do everything they can to allow Monsignor Emmanuel Kataliko to return quickly and in perfect safety," an EU statement said. The RCD last month accused Kataliko of "preaching ethnic hatred" and declared him persona non grata. He is now believed to be in his home area of Butembo.

DRC: Reconciliation meeting begins

President Laurent-Desire Kabila on Tuesday attended the opening ceremony of national reconciliation talks organised by Congolese religious groups in Kinshasa, but he made no speech, news agencies reported. Organisers said delegates would begin meeting in small working groups on Wednesday. Some 1,200 people have been invited to the talks, which aim to pave the way for inter-Congolese negotiations called for in the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The country's main opposition politicians and rebel leaders have declined to attend.

RWANDA: US report says rights record remains poor

A US State Department report has stated that the Rwandan government's human rights record remained poor in 1999, and that "the government continued to be responsible for numerous, serious abuses". It accused the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses - though fewer than in 1998. Prison conditions were "harsh and life threatening" for an estimated 130,000 prisoners, the report said. It also expressed concern at occasional government influence on the judiciary, the imprisonment of minors, the reported detention of civilians at closed military detention facilities and forced conscription - particularly since Rwanda entered the conflict in neighbouring DRC. The report however acknowledged the government's attempt to speed up the application of justice through group trials and the planned introduction of traditional 'gacaca' courts.

RWANDA: Rights Commission traces detainees

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday confirmed the government's detention of five Rwandans, including two soldiers and three civilians, who were allegedly forcibly returned to the country after being arrested recently in Burundi and Tanzania. The five detainees were being held at the Kanombe military detention facility, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) quoted NHRC president Gasana Ndoba as saying. The NHRC had been allowed visit the prisoners to assess their conditions of imprisonment but was told the files against them had not yet been finalised, Ndoba said. "The Rwandan government denied any sort of torture to the detainees, and indicated that their imprisonment was not connected to any political affair" but to the murder and robbery of an Indian, he added. Political analysts in the Rwandan capital Kigali have linked the detentions to a campaign to restore to power the former King Kigeli V, who was overthrown in 1961 and is currently living in the US.

RWANDA: Cyangugu court sentences four to death

Four people were found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity on Tuesday for their part in the murder of 120 people at Mwezi Parish Church in Cyangugu Province, southwestern Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. After a joint trial of 40 accused, the Cyangugu court also sentenced 13 people to life imprisonment, and others to varying terms, news organisations reported. Eight of the accused were found not guilty.

BURUNDI: Rebels attack army posts

Rebels attacked two military positions in Sororezo and Mugoboka, north of Bujumbura on Monday night, news organisations reported. Radio Burundi said that automatic gunfire and grenade explosions were heard from the hills surrounding Bujumbura. It said nobody was killed but one person was wounded. AFP quoted witnesses as saying that some of the rebels wore military uniforms while others were in civilian clothes. Mugoboka residents said the rebels were members of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), the armed wing of PALIPEHUTU.

BURUNDI: Fighting near sugar factory in Rutana

Fighting was also reported one km from the SOSUMO sugar factory in Rutana province after a rebel ambush which claimed the lives of two factory workers and three soldiers on Tuesday, the private Netpress news agency reported. It said two SOSUMO vehicles were attacked early on Tuesday morning. The army was trying to repulse the rebels from the area, Netpress added.

TANZANIA: ID cards to be issued in west

The serious security risk posed by the presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees in western regions of Tanzania was on Tuesday advanced by Kigoma Regional Commissioner Abubakar Mgumia as one of the main reasons for plans to introduce identity cards for Tanzanian citizens in the area. Identity cards would be issued in Kigoma, Kigera and Rukwa regions in the next few months, ahead of their issue in the rest of the country which is scheduled to precede the general election in October, for both security and electoral reasons, the Tanzanian 'Guardian' reported Mgumia as saying. Insecurity in the western regions is blamed on the influx of refugees and an associated availability of weapons.

Nairobi, 1 March 2000, 14:00 gmt


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