Burundi + 3 more

IRIN Update No. 494 for Central and Eastern Africa

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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
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e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: South Africa shifts stance and hails military intervention

In a shift of policy, South Africa today (Thursday) expressed support for the military intervention of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola in the DRC conflict on the side of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, the BBC reported. However, President Nelson Mandela said the shift did not signify a conflict with regional attempts to broker a ceasefire. He was speaking after a meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim. The talks were held on the sidelines of the non-aligned movement (NAM) summit in Durban.

Annan encouraged by talks

At a press conference following the meeting, Annan said he had been encouraged by the talks and that they were "moving in the right direction". He is due to meet the Ugandan and Rwandan presidents later today. "We are dealing with an evolving situation," he added.

Yesterday (Wednesday), in an address to the NAM summit, Annan called for a peaceful solution to Africa's problems. "My brother African leaders, I appeal to you once again," he said. "We Africans must summon the will to resolve our problems by political, not military, means. For every day that we fail to do so, the innocent people of this continent pay a terrible price." Citing ongoing conflicts in Africa, Annan added: "Perhaps most worrying of all, the Democratic Republic of Congo [is] once again engulfed in civil war, with forces from neighbouring states engaged on opposite sides."

Kabila blasts Rwanda, Uganda

Kabila meanwhile, who arrived unexpectedly in Durban yesterday, lashed out at Uganda and Rwanda accusing them of "killing, raping and destroying structures" in western DRC. Addressing the NAM summit, he also accused them of the massacre of Hutus in the country, press reports said. The SAPA news agency said Kabila was not present at today's SADC meeting, but he had separate talks with Annan.

Conflict will end "soon", Angolan COS says

Angolan chief-of-staff General Joao de Matos said operations in DRC had been "successfully carried out" and predicted the "conflict will end pretty soon". In comments broadcast by Angolan television, following a meeting in Luanda with his Zimbabwean and DRC counterparts yesterday, he said it was unlikely their gains would be reversed.

Steps initiated to evacuate detained Tutsi civilians

Following a request by the DRC Minister of Human Rights, the government of Congo-Brazzaville is reportedly willing to allow some 180 Congolese and Rwandan Tutsi civilians to be evacuated to Brazzaville on humanitarian grounds, on the condition that they be resettled in other countries as quickly as possible, according to UN sources. The group is detained at the Kokolo camp in Kinshasa, where they are in an extremely vulnerable situation, the UN sources reported, adding that more Tutsi civilians are gathered under precarious conditions in other places within Kinshasa.

RWANDA: Annan hails ICTR sentencing

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described yesterday's verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which found former mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu guilty of genocide as a "landmark decision". "This judgement is a testament to our collective determination to confront the heinous crime of genocide," he said in a statement, reported by the UN information service. "Let us never again be accused of standing by while genocide and crimes against humanity are being committed."

Former premier's defence seeks leniency

Meanwhile, defence lawyers acting for former prime minister Jean Kambanda are seeking a light sentence of two years after he admitted he was guilty of genocide, press reports said. Defence counsel Michael Inglis told the ICTR today Kambanda was "trapped and made a puppet" by the interim authorities at the time. Rwandans attending the hearing expressed outrage at the submission by the defence. The Tribunal is due to pass sentence tomorrow morning.

BURUNDI: Agreement reached on working committees for Arusha process

An envoy for peace mediator Julius Nyerere, who is visiting Bujumbura, said agreement has been reached on the composition and leadership of five working committees established for peace talks. Mark Bomani told the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) he had been sent by Nyerere to hold discussions on the working committees as part of the external Arusha peace process. Bomani confirmed that the Burundi embassy in Dar es Salaam would be reopened with a Burundi government representative in place. Burundi had previously accused Tanzania of allowing the embassy to be "occupied" by representatives of the opposition party FRODEBU and CNDD rebels.

FROLINA warns "resumption of war" will impact on Arusha talks

The mainly-Hutu rebel group Front pour la liberation nationale (FROLINA) has expressed support for DRC President Kabila and for the country's "territorial integrity". In a statement, it claimed Burundian troops were fighting in DRC and warned that President Pierre Buyoya's "refusal to withdraw unconditionally his troops from DRC will lead to the resumption of the national liberation war by FROLINA...with all the consequences on the Arusha peace talks".

UGANDA: Drought-affected populations to receive WFP food aid

WFP will provide over 4,000 mt of food aid to some 126,000 people in drought-affected areas of northeastern Uganda, according to the latest WFP weekly emergency report. The US $1.6 million project aims to protect the health and nutritional status of most-affected groups, prevent migration of people to other areas and encourage self-reliance of the affected population through food-for-work rehabilitation activities. The WFP food distributions will target the areas of Kotido, Moroto and Kitgum for a three-month period.

Four killed in army-LRA clash

At least four people were killed in an exchange of fire on Monday between rebels and government soldiers in northern Uganda, the 'Monitor' newspaper said today. According to AFP, the report said the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) stormed a camp at Amuru in Gulu district and then went on a looting spree before killing one person. Government forces tried to beat off the attack, but in the fighting a stray bomb fell on a hut in the nearby village of Labongogali and killed three occupants. Several other people were injured. Meanwhile, the 'New Vision' daily reported on Tuesday that 12 rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces were killed in a clash with the army on Sunday in the Ruwenzori region.

Nairobi, 3 September 1998, 14:40 gmt

[ENDS]

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