IRIN Update No. 323 for Central and Eastern Africa

from IRIN
Published on 31 Dec 1997
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IRIN Update No. 323 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 31 December 1997)

KENYA: Moi takes early lead in chaotic elections

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has taken an early lead in presidential elections but analysts say it is too early to identify a trend in the results, news agencies reported today. The ruling KANU party is also leading in the parliamentary poll. The chaotic general elections have sparked intense controversy with politicians of all stripes trading allegations of rigging and unanimously condemning the performance of the country's electoral commission. The secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party of presidential contender Charity Ngilu said yesterday the party would not accept the election results because of the "serious anomalies" surrounding the voting. Meanwhile, according to CNN, at least five people died yesterday in political violence in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru.

RWANDA: Genocide suspect freed in US

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard yesterday (Tuesday) reacted to the release of a genocide suspect by a court in Texas, USA. He said no comments would be made on the internal workings of a judicial system but it was hoped the suspect, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, would eventually be brought to justice. Ntakirutimana was freed two weeks ago by a federal magistrate in Texas who said an extradition agreement between the US and the UN war crimes tribunals was unconstitutional. Ntakirutimana, a 73 year-old pastor who has spent 14 months in a Texas jail, is accused of ordering the killing of Tutsis hiding in a church during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He arrived in the US in December 1994 and was arrested some 20 months later. The State Department expressed regret over the magistrate's decision, saying the issue was not closed. "We are on a sound legal footing here," spokesman James Foley said yesterday, according to AFP.

Students protest against international "support" for genocide perpetrators

Thousands of students from Butare University in southern Rwanda took to the town's streets yesterday in protest at what they said was international support for genocide perpetrators. According to Rwandan radio, about 3,000 students demonstrated peacefully against "European countries and international organisations that supply weapons to those responsible for genocide". A similar demonstration was held in the northern town of Ruhengeri by IBUKA, an organisation which cares for genocide survivors.

Rebels attack agricultural institute

About 250 rebels attacked an agricultural research institute in Kinigi commune, Ruhengeri prefecture, on Sunday, Rwandan radio reported yesterday. It said they tried to take 3.5 tonnes of potatoes but were repulsed by government forces. A captured rebel said some civilians were taken hostage but others joined in voluntarily, the radio added.

TANZANIA: Minister denies rebels operating from Tanzania

Tanzania has denied reports that rebel groups are operating from its territory. Tanzanian radio quoted Deputy Interior Minister Sigela Nswima as saying his country had never given sanctuary to any rebel group. He accused Burundi of circulating the reports to "seek sympathy" from the international community. The 'EastAfrican' weekly on Monday said a group of Ugandan parliamentarians, who recently visited Burundi, concluded that rebels from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda were receiving support from Sudan and operating from Tanzania. Nswima dismissed the allegations as "mere propaganda aimed at misleading the international community".

Meanwhile in Uganda, two people were killed and another abducted by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels over the weekend in the western Bundibugyo district, the 'New Vision' reported yesterday. The army recovered the decapitated head of one of the victims, the paper said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Patasse denies CAR rear base for attacking DRC

Central African Republic President Ange-Felix Patasse yesterday denied his country was being used as a rear base by former Zairean officials to attack DRC. Patasse, who was on a one-day visit to Kinshasa yesterday, told DRC television the allegations were "just rumours". "We will never agree to people attacking the DRC from our country," he said.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Party dissidents move to dismiss Lissouba

Ousted president Pascal Lissouba is to be dismissed from the leadership of his Union panafricaine pour la democratie sociale (UPADS) party, Brazzaville's official Radio Liberte said yesterday. A dissident wing of the UPADS, led by Martin Mberi, a former Lissouba aide now serving in the new government of Denis Sassou Nguesso, has convened a party conference in the southern city of Pointe-Noire to formally sack Lissouba, AFP reported. Mberi, current minister of transport and the merchant navy, was himself thrown out of the UPADS by the party's exiled secretariat in November on a charge of treason. Last week, former Brazzaville mayor Bernard Kolelas, the last prime minister under Lissouba, was also sacked from his own party's leadership by dissidents.

France to back Brazzaville in negotiations with donors

France's new ambassador to Brazzaville said yesterday Paris was "prepared to back Congo" in a renewed dialogue with international lenders. Ambassador Herve Bolot, who presented his credentials on Monday as the new French envoy, told AFP in Kinshasa by telephone that "Congo has every interest in resuming dialogue with the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank." Congo's structural adjustment accord with the IMF and the World Bank was derailed by the four-month civil war, which erupted in June. The EU has said it will not resume aid until democracy is restored.

SUDAN: Turabi willing to meet with exiled opposition

Sudan's Islamic leader Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi is willing to meet with the exiled opposition, according to a political reconciliation group spokesman quoted by AFP. An envoy from the Popular Organisation for National Dialogue (POND) said Turabi, the powerful speaker of parliament, had announced that: "I am ready to meet anybody, including (former premier) Sadiq al-Mahdi who is bound to me with intellectual and family ties." Exiled northern political leaders, based mainly in Egypt and Eritrea, have formed an alliance with southern rebels who have fought successive Khartoum regimes over alleged Islamic domination of the country and the marginalisation of the underdeveloped south.


There will be no IRIN update tomorrow, New Year's Day. The next update will be issued on Friday 2 January 1998.

Nairobi, 31 December 1997, 10:45 gmt


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