Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 878 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: New premier appointed

Rwanda's former ambassador to Germany, Bernard Makuza, has been appointed the country's new prime minister replacing Pierre-Celestin Rwigema, who stepped down last week amid accusations of financial impropriety, Rwandan radio reported. The post of prime minister which, according to the 1993 Arusha accords belongs to the Hutu-dominated Mouvement Democratique Republicain (MDR), has changed hands three times since the current administration took over in 1994. The first prime minister, Faustin Twagiramungu, fled the country and has since formed an opposition alliance against the government. "Twagiramungu left and never clearly stated why," Victor J.Visathan, the managing editor of the semi-official 'New Times' told IRIN. "Rwigema started off well and later ran into trouble with parliament over accusations of graft when he was a minister. Let's cross our fingers and hope that Makuza, who is a hard-working man, does not follow his predecessors."

Former prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu, who fled the country in 1995, said the post of prime minister no longer had any value in Rwanda. Under the Arusha accords, the prime minister's post was executive and powerful but "in reality the vice-president [Paul Kagame] makes all the decisions", Twagiramungu told IRIN. He said this was the reason he left his post. According to Twagiramungu, the new premier is a "lightweight", who is related to Kagame on his mother's side. "Makuza is not active within the MDR," said Twagiramungu, who now leads the Union des forces democratiques rwandaises (UFDR) from his exile in Belgium.

Observers point out Makuza belongs to the "liberal wing" of the MDR which was opposed to the former regime of Juvenal Habyarimana. He was the former ambassador to Burundi, before moving on to Bonn. The new government is expected to be announced in a few days.

RWANDA: Authorities vow to track down murderers

The Rwandan security organs have vowed to bring to book those responsible for a wave of murders in the country, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. It cited sources within the Criminal Investigation Department as saying that some "key suspects" had been arrested, one of them an alleged army deserter. One of the most high-profile murders was that of presidential adviser Aciel Kabera who was gunned down outside his house on Sunday.

RWANDA: Journalist released

Albert Baudoin Twizeyimana, a journalist with Radio Rwanda detained by the authorities, has been "provisionally" released, pending genocide charges. According to a statement from the Canadian-based International Freedom of Expression (IFEX), the journalist had been detained at Kigali central prison since 10 May 1996, because he was accused of having participated in killings in his region of Kibungo. "Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) [a media watchdog] has never been able to confirm the reasons for Twizeyimana's incarceration with certainty," the IFEX statement said. "The organisation has long asked that the journalist receive a fair and impartial trial."

Gerald Gahima, the Rwandan prosecutor-general told IRIN, he was not aware of the case, while government spokesman Joseph Bideri said a number of journalists had been arrested on suspicion of genocide "but they are not many, just a handful".


The US State Department on Wednesday reiterated its concern over continued ceasefire violations in the DRC. Spokesman James Rubin stressed that the successful deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission could only occur if all parties rigorously adhered to the Lusaka accord. Washington was "dismayed at credible reports of the murder of civilians, arbitrary detention, torture and the exile of political and religious leaders throughout Congo," Rubin added. He cited, in particular, the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)'s refusal to let Bishop Kataliko of Bukavu return to his home and the Kinshasa government's arrest on 3 January of two journalists for publishing a critical article. The US again urged all parties to respect their commitments under the Lusaka agreement, Rubin added.

DRC: Miyet to explain UN mission and seek "full support"

Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet was due in Kinshasa on Thursday to explain in detail the UN plans to deploy a force in the country. He also intended to seek from all belligerents "the full support essential to deploy the more than 5,500-strong military observer mission", a UN press release stated. In approving the expanded mandate of the UN Observer Mission to the DRC (MONUC) on 24 February, the Security Council asked to be advised as soon as possible on "whether deployment conditions existed or not", and Miyet's mission was part of that assessment, the statement said. Miyet was scheduled to remain in DRC until Sunday, before travelling on to Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda to complete his mission.

DRC: Ngoma to return to Kinshasa

Professor Arthur Zahidi Ngoma, a former rebel leader in the DRC, has announced he will be returning to the capital Kinshasa in two weeks' time to "prepare the ground for the organisation of an inter-Congolese debate". Ngoma, who is currently in France, told European radio stations he felt it was the right time to go home. "I am returning there to mobilise the opposition, to start our job," he told the BBC Swahili service. Ngoma, who was the first president of the RCD, denied he had struck some sort of agreement with the Kinshasa government.

His former colleague in the RCD, Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, now leader of the RCD-ML, told IRIN the timing of Ngoma's return to Kinshasa was "politically puzzling". "Kabila tortured Ngoma and locked him up for a long time. He was only released after pressure from the international community," Wamba said. "It is a bit puzzling that he decides to go back now." According to Wamba, Kabila was planning to reshuffle his government "and create a basically anti-Lusaka government called a government of national unity." "Maybe his [Ngoma] return should be seen in that context," he said.

UGANDA: Burundi president visiting

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya began a two-day visit to Uganda on Thursday, according to a press release from the Ugandan president's office. "The two heads of states will discuss bilateral matters of common concern as well as issues concerning the Great Lakes region," the statement said. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni chairs the regional
initiative on the Burundi peace process and presided over last month's summit in Arusha, Tanzania. However, regional observers say the issue of a consignment of weapons, impounded in Uganda en route to Bujumbura in January, is likely to dominate the talks.

Nairobi, 9 March 2000, 14:15 gmt


[IRIN-CEA: Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: irin-cea@ocha.unon.org ]

[This item is delivered in the English service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000