IRIN Update No. 561 for Central and Eastern Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
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UGANDA: Museveni's brother quits over bank scandal
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's brother, Major General Salim Saleh, resigned as defence advisor over the weekend after admitting a role in a corrupt bank deal, news media reported. Saleh acknowledged he had used a Malaysian company as a front to buy the state-owned Uganda Commercial Bank. Museveni said in a statement yesterday (Sunday) that Saleh's resignation as a "curtain raiser in the struggle to rectify mistakes and indiscipline" that has crept into government.
Donors warn over corruption
International donors meeting on Wednesday in Kampala want greater accountability from the government before considering a request for an additional US $980 million in programme financing, AP reported today (Monday). According to the semi-official 'Sunday Vision', the World Bank has presented the government with a report documenting 12 cases of high-level embezzlement of public funds.
Lord's Resistance Army "not religious"
The Lord's Resistance Movement (LRM), the political wing of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), claims the LRM/A is a non-religious, non-tribal armed resistance movement. A statement received by IRIN on Monday, protesting "Panda Gari" ("get in the truck") security operations in Gulu town, attempts to present a political programme for the movement, long a human rights pariah. The name "Lord's", the statement says, refers to the prayers of the rural population to prevent "pogroms and massacres".
"Panda Gari" security operations criticised
The LRA, notorious for abductions of children, is now protesting "abductions" by the government during the Gulu security sweep. A recent commentary by Charles Onyango-Obbo, editor of the independent 'Monitor', said that 1,500 people were held in a "Panda Gari" operation in Kampala on 20 November, while about 4,000 ethnic Acholi people were rounded up in a similar operation at the Gulu stadium. In a strongly-worded commentary, Onyango-Obbo wrote: "Panda Gari is either what governments resort to when they lose hope that they can bring about a change of heart among specific populations, or when the apathy or hostility of a community are so high that its intelligence networks are rendered ineffective." A 1996 US State Department report described similar "Panda Gari" operations in Gulu as "unconstitutional".
Museveni's abrupt Rwanda trip denied
The government has denied a report in 'The Monitor' newspaper that Museveni unexpectedly changed his helicopter flight on 22 November to fly to Rwanda for a meeting with Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame and DRC rebel commanders, state radio said.
DRC: Rebels accused of persecuting rights activists
L'Association africaine de defense de droits de l'homme (ASADHO) has accused rebel authorities of launching a "vast campaign of repression and arrest" targeting human rights workers. In a statement received today by IRIN, ASADHO said armed soldiers in Bukavu arrested a local human rights activist on 30 November and security officials have been "intimidating" several members of a coalition of local civil society groups. The coalition last week released a report detailing alleged human rights abuses in rebel-held areas.
Meanwhile, UNHCR said it had received "credible reports" that five Congolese asylum seekers forced back to the DRC by Burundian authorities last month have been released from detention by authorities in Bukavu. The five, who had entered Burundi as escorts of former South Kivu Governor Charles Magabe, were arrested after their forced repatriation to the DRC.
Bodies removed from Kalemie mass grave
The bodies of 78 people allegedly killed by Kabila's forces in Kalemie in August have been brought to Uvira for burial in their "ancestral land", rebel-controlled radio, monitored by the BBC, said on 3 December. The bodies, including 46 soldiers and 32 civilians, were removed from a mass grave in Kalemie and brought by ship to Uvira on 1 December, the radio said. They had been massacred by Kabila's forces before Kalemie fell to the rebels, it added.
BURUNDI: Peace commissions to meet next week
Three working commissions of the Burundi peace process are scheduled to meet in Arusha, Tanzania, on 14 December ahead of the fourth round of talks slated for 18 January, the independent Hirondelle news agency said on Friday. Hirondelle quoted an assistant to talks facilitator and formerTanzanian president Julius Nyerere as saying the three commissions - on the nature of the conflict, democracy and good governance, and peace and security - will each be composed of 18 members representing the various parties involved in the peace process. The creation and composition of the working commissions were agreed upon during the previous round of negotiations held in October.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Pool violence intensifies
At least 63 people were killed on Saturday in clashes between militia fighters and government forces in the Pool region, news agencies said. The dead included 60 militia and three soldiers, Reuters quoted state radio as saying. The radio said fighting began when Ninja militia allied to former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas ambushed an army convoy in the village of Ntadi near Mindouli. Insecurity in the Pool region south of Brazzaville has increased since September with scores of people reported killed by the violence.
TANZANIA: Hutu/Tutsi mixed marriage refugees leave for US
A group of refugees from Hutu/Tutsi mixed marriages left Tanzania at the weekend for a new home in the United States, an IOM official told IRIN today. The 228 refugees, of whom 70 percent are Burundian and 30 percent Rwandan, have been granted refugee status in the United States because of their "unique vulnerability", he said. The majority of the refugees are children under the age of 12.
SUDAN: Machar condemns disarmament
Sudanese faction leader Riek Machar today condemned the government's disarmament of his militiamen in Khartoum, Reuters reported. Machar, who commands the South Sudan Defence Force made up of six southern groups that joined the government last year, claimed the government had disarmed bodyguards rather than lawless elements within the factions.
ETHIOPIA-ERITREA-DJIBOUTI: Djibouti "capable of defending itself"
Ethiopia today denied reports from the 'Indian Ocean Newsletter' last week that its troops were deployed inside Djiboutian territory. Ethiopian government spokeswoman Selome Taddesse told IRIN on Monday that Djibouti was "capable of defending itself". Relations between Djibouti and Eritrea soured rapidly last month with Eritrea accusing Djibouti of supporting the Ethiopian military effort. Djibouti, in a letter to the UN Security Council, said that the allegations were "sheer nonsense", and that Djibouti was "Ethiopia's natural port".
The letter, dated 20 November, alleges "visible signs" of an Eritrean military buildup on the Djibouti-Eritrea border, mentions "sketchy" information about an "incursion" and further claims the possibility that "patronage" is being extended to "disgruntled individuals" - a reference thought by observers to refer to ethnic Afar rebels. Djibouti says the situation amounts to a "prelude to war". Another round of talks between US facilitator Anthony Lake, Addis Ababa and Asmara began last week, with all sides maintaining silence on progress, if any.
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