Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update 879 for the Great Lakes

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News and Press Release
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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

RWANDA: EU restores development cooperation

The European Union on Thursday agreed to grant Rwanda 110 million euros (roughly $110 million) under the eighth European Development Fund (EDF), in a deal that reestablished the regular cooperation relationship broken by the 1994 genocide. Since 1994, the EU had supported emergency and rehabilitation programmes in Rwanda, but the country was ineligible for regular development assistance until a new round (2000-2005) of EDF financing became available, EC official Francesca Walter told IRIN on Friday. The 110 million euros to be released immediately would support the government's efforts to "reduce poverty and to consolidate the reform programme, both on macroeconomic (matters) and on good governance," Rwanda News Agency (RNA) quoted EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Affairs Paul Nielsen as saying. Poverty alleviation programmes, road and market infrastructures, public affairs management, and the promotion of national reconciliation and human rights would be among the areas to benefit, said Rwandan Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka.

RWANDA: Commissioner calls for cut in military spending

Nielsen praised Rwanda's economic reform efforts but said the continuing war in DRC was worrying and that the EU hoped Rwandan would "put all efforts into pursuing peace." He also called on Rwanda to reduce military expenditure - which now accounted for one-third of government spending, according to a BBC report on Thursday. Additional EU money would be available to Rwanda "in the light of the country's general situation and needs," Nielsen said. Europe was ready to assist Rwanda, both technically and financially, to put in place the 'gacaca' system of local courts expected to speed up the judicial process for some130,000 people in prison, most of them on genocide charges, Nielsen said.

RWANDA: President demands respect for human rights

President Pasteur Bizimungu on Thursday stressed the need for all Rwandans to respect human rights, and said those who violate other people's rights should be severely punished. "Violation of human rights is now a challenge to all structures and institutions in the country," and its laws needed to be amended to respond to the problem, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) quoted the president as saying. The National Human Rights Commission had, only on Tuesday, issued a press statement condemning all forms of rights violations, following a number of murders, rapes and instances of defilement in the country. Speaking to mark International Women's Day, Bizimungu also deplored the increasing scourge of poverty and AIDS in Rwanda, saying that "policy-makers at all levels should combine efforts in fighting the rapid spread of the deadly HIV-AIDS," RNA added.

RWANDA: Kagame pledges probe into murder of presidential adviser

Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame on Thursday pledged there would be an investigation to track down the killers of presidential adviser Aciel Kabera, who was shot dead in his car in Kigali on Sunday night in what political analysts have said was "clearly a political killing." Kagame was speaking at Kabera's funeral at Remera Cemetery in the Rwandan capital, Radio Rwanda reported on Friday. Kabera had apparently told members of his family he feared for his life as Rwandan officials had linked him with the former parliamentary speaker, Joseph Sebarenzi Kabuye, who fled the country, accused of monarchist sentiments.

RWANDA: French-extradited genocide suspect appears at ICTR

Former Minister of Culture and Higher Education Jean De Dieu Kamuhanda, transferred from France to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday, appeared in court in Arusha for the first time on Friday on genocide charges. Russian judge Yakov Ostrovsky deferred Kamuhanda's plea hearing, noting that the accused had not had adequate time to consult with his lawyer about the charges against him. Kamuhanda is the first of two suspects arrested in France to be transferred; the other, Major Francois Xavier Nzuwonemeye, is currently appealing against his planned extradition. Kamuhanda is alleged to have organised and taken an active role in the massacre of Tutsis in Gikomero Commune, Kigali, during the 1994 genocide.

BURUNDI: Senior military officers to meet Mandela

The facilitator of the Burundi peace process, former South African president Nelson Mandela, is scheduled to meet Burundi Defence Minister Colonel Cyrille Ndayirukiye and senior military officers next week, with sensitive issues surrounding reform of the armed forces reported to be on the agenda. "Mandela will meet the Burundi Minister for Defence and his delegation on 15 March," Mandela's spokesperson Marianne Nudziwa told IRIN on Friday. The Tanzanian independent 'Guardian' newspaper on Friday quoted reliable sources as saying that the meeting would tackle reform of the Burundi armed forces in the context of the Arusha peace talks. On 22 February, Mandela told the 19 parties to the Arusha talks that the minority Tutsi ethnic group monopolised politics, the economy and the armed forces - a move that generated considerable anxiety in the armed forces and among Tutsi political parties.

DRC: Morjane emphasises need for "effective ceasefire"

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative in the DRC Kamel Morjane has called on all sides in the current conflict to implement an effective ceasefire to allow the deployment of a UN military force of over 5,500 in the country, and to prepare for the exchange of prisoners of war as outlined in the Lusaka agreement. Speaking before his first working meeting with Leonard Ntaremba, the DRC's new General Commissioner to the UN Mission in the DRC, Morjane told a press conference that before the new UN deployment there should be "an effective ceasefire - note, an effective ceasefire, not the kind of ceasefire we have been witnessing since July which, you know, has never been respected." All sides would have to agree on a disengagement plan "so that there will be no opposition, and no direct clashes on the various fronts," Morjane, speaking on Congolese television, stated.

DRC: Humanitarian action can help break violent cycle - Annan

There were no more acute examples of the vicious circle between conflict generating humanitarian crises, and such crises then perpetuating instability, than the DRC and Angola, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on Thursday. With the DRC crisis having its roots in the broader humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes Region, it was clear that humanitarian action could not only serve "to protect the victims of conflict from further loss and suffering" but also to enhance peace and security, Annan said in an address to the Security Council. Weak support for humanitarian action could result in "failure to restore livelihoods or rebuild societies" but positive action could enhance stability, restore respect for human rights and lay the foundation for reconciliation, he added.

The need for effective humanitarian assistance had never been greater, yet it alone was no substitute for political action and "integrating humanitarian and political-military elements of UN peace operations" was one of the major challenges facing humanitarian action, Annan said. Far too many peace agreements collapsed because they were not implemented, or signatories relapsed into conflict after initial implementation - "in part because there are not enough resources to foster essential post-conflict recovery and stability" - and the Security Council must find ways to avoid "this tragic and wasteful pattern of events," he added. [see the UN Secretary-General's Security Council speech at http://www.un.org/News/]

DRC: Wamba wants Ugandans to stay

The leader of the Bunia-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML), Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, has said Ugandan troops should stay in DRC "as long as peace eludes the country". Wamba commended UN efforts to end the war but stressed that the final solution lay with the Congolese themselves, Ugandan radio reported. He said some people wanted peace negotiations "while others prefer a military solution to the problem". Ugandan army spokesman Captain Shaban Bantariza told IRIN that if Wamba wanted the troops to stay, "we cannot contest it".

UGANDA: Army claims to have overrun rebel camps

The Ugandan army (Uganda People's Defence Force) on Friday claimed to have overrun and occupied most of the camps of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Rwenzori mountain on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Yes, we have occupied most of the rebel camps in the mountain ranges all the way to the DRC side at Mtwanga and Longo. Our forces are trying to locate the sick bay to complete the job. We have reduced the rebels to small band who cannot carry out a significant military operations," spokesman Captain Shaban Batarinza told IRIN. Last year and through the early part of this year the ADF has intensified its military campaign, attacking the major towns of Kasese and Bundibugyo, causing the displacement of more than 100,000 people.

Nairobi, 10 March 2000, 14:20 gmt

[ENDS]

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