Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 875 for the Great Lakes

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

RWANDA: Aid worker, government official killed

WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini has expressed outrage over the killing on Saturday of a UN volunteer working for the agency in Rwanda. Samuel Sargbah, a Liberian national, was shot dead by an unknown attacker while sitting in his car in the Rwandan capital Kigali. "I am deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless murder of yet another humanitarian worker," Bertini said in a press release. She urged the Rwandan authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. In a separate incident, Aciel Kabera, an adviser to the Office of the President, was shot dead in front of his house at Kicyiru on Sunday evening, according to IRIN sources in Rwanda. A former prefet of Kibuye, Kabera was a genocide survivor and an influential figure in the Rwandan government, they added.

RWANDA: Four shortlisted to succeed Rwigema

The political bureau of the Mouvement democratique republicain (MDR) has issued a shortlist of four candidates for the post of prime minister, which has been vacant since last week's resignation of Pierre-Celestin Rwigema. Under the 1993 Arusha agreement on Rwanda, which remains in force, the post of prime minister is to be occupied by a member of the MDR. They party's candidates include Bernard Makuza, Celestin Kabanda, Alex Mugarura and Marie-Jose Mukandamage, Radio Rwanda reported on Monday. Makuza was easily the most popular candidate within the MDR but his appointment was not yet written in stone because he would have to be interviewed and have his candidacy approved by other political parties within the transitional government and by President Pasteur Bizimungu, political sources in Rwanda told IRIN on Monday.

RWANDA: Former speaker was involved in "sectarian" affairs - Kagame

Vice-President Paul Kagame, commenting on Rwigema's resignation and that of Speaker of Parliament Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye who resigned in early January, said the resignation or dismissal of some leaders "should not surprise anybody but should be done in transparency". Rwandan radio said he told a news conference there was "credible evidence" of Kabuye's association with "the royalists" (who are alleged to be plotting to return ex-king Kigeli V to power.) This included the production and distribution of royalist cassettes that were "sectarian", while "not, as such, seditious", Kagame said. The sectarian nature of the tapes was "contrary to the politics of the National Union government for which he was working", Kagame added. "Even without these facts, if people say we put you there, we are tired of you - as members of parliament had - then that person should go," he said. "Life has to go on with or without Sebarenzi and the prime minister, and Kagame sometime."

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Militia groups step up attacks in Kivus

Uncontrolled armed groups were reported to be present in large numbers north of Rutshuru, in North Kivu, in recent weeks, with a corresponding increase in attacks on local populations and the occupation of villages, independent sources told IRIN. Armed elements were also reported to have carried out attacks in and around Masisi, Ngungu, Katoye, Kashariba and Nyanzale. In South Kivu, meanwhile, insecurity on the Kiliba-Kamanyola road south of Uvira, and in the Ruzizi plain - described by one source as "uncontrolled and uncontrollable" - had restricted the work of relief agencies, humanitarian sources said. The circulation in Kisangani, Butembo and Kindu of pamphlets calling for strikes - following on from civil disobedience campaigns in Goma and Bukavu - also appeared to reflect growing discontent in eastern DRC with the Congolese rebel groups and their backers, they added.

DRC: New commander to head MONUC

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday announced the appointment of Major-General Mountaga Diallo of Senegal to be Force Commander of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). The Security Council on 24 February approved the expansion of the mission - intended to support implementation of Lusaka ceasefire agreement on the DRC conflict - by up to 5,537 military personnel plus an "appropriate civilian support staff" in areas such as human rights and child protection.

DRC: US denies supporting rebels

US Ambassador to the Great Lakes, Howard Wolpe, on Friday denied that the US was supporting "the rebels and aggressors of the DRC". He said that uppermost in Washington's thoughts was respect for the Lusaka peace agreement, and he called for the withdrawal of foreign troops. Speaking during a visit to Kinshasa, he said the US had worked hard to secure the UN Security Council resolution on expanding MONUC. "We especially hope that the necessary conditions will be fulfilled so that fighting actually can end," DRC television quoted Wolpe as saying.

DRC: MONUC should deploy on both sides - Ondekane

Vice-President of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) Jean-Pierre Ondekane on Monday said his movement would not allow the deployment of UN military personnel in areas under its control, if DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila refused to allow their deployment in government territory. "If Kabila refuses to allow UN troops in his area like he has threatened to do, we shall not allow them to deploy in our territory, because this means that we shall be open to scrutiny while Kabila will continue with his war plans unhindered, " Ondekane told IRIN. UN military personnel are to be deployed in Kisangani and Kindu which are under rebel control, and Mbandaka and Mbuji Mayi controlled by Congolese government forces.

On reported ceasefire violations, Ondekane told IRIN the RCD forces were fighting government troops and their allies on three fronts. He claimed fighting was spread around Uvira, Fizi-Baraka, Ruzizi plain, Mulebwa and Lulimba in South Kivu. In Katanga, fighting was concentrated around the town of Kongolo and in Kasai around Kabinda, he said. "What is surprising us is that the militia fighting alongside Kabila's troops have new arms," he added.

DRC: Bemba issues "final warning" to Kabila

Leader of the rebel Mouvement democratique du Congo (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba, says he has issued his "final warning" to President Laurent-Desire Kabila. In a speech in Gbadolite on Sunday to stress adherence to the Lusaka peace accords, Bemba said that "from now on, each new aggression by the Kinshasa authorities against innocent people will provoke a vigorous reaction by the Armee de liberation du Congo [ALC, armed wing of the MLC]". "If necessary...we will go as far as Kinshasa and chase the dictator from his lair," Bemba said. "We are not fighting for power, or for personal enrichment, but for a vision of the country, to regain our freedom which has been taken away, to ensure a future for our children," he continued. He said the ALC would "spearhead" a new national republican army which would defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the DRC. "The country's unity will never be signed away by the MLC," Bemba added. He said the only way of ending the "confusion" in DRC was the inter-Congolese dialogue, as stipulated in the Lusaka accord. In this way, a new political order would be created, he said.

DRC: Mugabe addresses national consultation meeting

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday addressed the church-organised national consultation meeting underway in Kinshasa and urged the Congolese to choose between "slavery and sovereignty". He said the forum was for "unity" and would also enable the Congolese people to decide their "own fate" without "foreign intervention or external aggression", DRC state television reported. "That is our ambition and that is why we are defending the sovereignty of Congo," he said.

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who sent a special envoy to the meeting, stressed that the DRC represents Africa in "miniature". "It is therefore important to put an end to the war that is tearing the country apart," he said.

DRC: Meeting may continue until Friday

Meanwhile, an official at the DRC embassy in Nairobi said the national consultation may continue until Friday. The meeting, which started last week, held a plenary session at the weekend in which participants - including traditional rulers in the Congolese diaspora and human rights organisations - reiterated that foreign troops should withdraw from the country. DRC state television quoted participants as saying there should be good governance to improve the social conditions of the Congolese people.

BURUNDI: Mandela to remain as mediator

Former South African president Nelson Mandela is not about to quit as facilitator of the Burundi peace process, contrary to media reports over the weekend. "He just mentioned that he was an old man who needed to rest at one stage, not that he was stepping down as mediator in the Burundi negotiations," Hashim Mbita, the spokesman of the mediation team told IRIN on Monday. Mandela's spokeswoman Zelda la Grange told the South African news agency (SAPA) that Mandela had been "a bit misquoted" and what he actually said was that the time will come when he has to pass on his responsibilities to a younger person. "He did not say he was sick or resigning tomorrow, but that when the time arrives he was confident the continent had many competent young people who could complete that work," she said. Mandela was reported to have said, during a visit to Nigeria, that "sooner or later circumstances far beyond our control may prevent me from continuing with my work in general and with my facilitation in Burundi in particular".

Meanwhile, the current round of Burundi peace negotiations ended on Saturday with the formation of fifth committee to oversee the implementation of all decisions taken at the talks. It will be chaired by Mandela, assisted by the chairmen and assistant chairmen of the other four committees. No date was fixed for another round of talks.

BURUNDI: South African minister ends visit

South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma "successfully" concluded her four-day visit to Burundi on Monday, the South African news agency (SAPA) quoted a statement from her office as saying. During the visit she held talks with Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, government officials, human rights organisations and various representatives of civil society. "Through her interaction, Zuma sought to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of the actual reality of the country and its people," the statement said. "Available economic opportunities and possible areas of cooperation will be brought to the attention of South Africans in order to initiate in-depth discussions with their Burundian counterparts," Zuma was quoted as saying. She also called on the international community to assist in the economic development of Burundi saying, "it is crucial for the peace process".

GREAT LAKES: Small arms conference slated for next week

A conference to discuss the illicit flow of small arms and proliferation of light weapons in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region is slated for 12-15 March in Nairobi, an official from Kenya's foreign affairs ministry told IRIN on Monday. Kenya's Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheldon Muchilwa, also special envoy for the conference, has gone to most countries expected at the meeting to extend the invitation, including the DRC. Kenya is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the conference. "Otherwise it has been organised in conjunction with many other players," the official said.

Nairobi, 6 March 2000, 15:00 gmt


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