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DRC: Ikela situation "coming to a head"
A special mission of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) that ended on 27 December secured agreement from the combatants to visit Ikela and Bokungu "for verification on the ground with a view to disengaging their troops," a JMC statement received by IRIN has stated. The Zambian interim chairman of the special mission, Brigadier General Timothy Kazembe, has been reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) as saying a deal was secured under which the UN and OAU would airlift supplies to allied troops, including Zimbabwean and Namibian soldiers, besieged by rebel forces at Ikela. The withdrawal of pro-government forces from Bokungu as a 'quid pro quo' has also been mooted. A military source in DRC told IRIN on Tuesday that operations at Ikela seemed to be "coming to a head", and that the government allies insisted there would be an outcome in Ikela "one way or another" in days rather than weeks.
The JMC special mission, comprising the neutral members of the Joint Military Commission, namely the OAU, UN and Zambia, was also expected to meet shortly with the Mouvement de liberation du congo (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba, and with the authorities of the Central African Republic and Republic of Congo, for consultations on the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire accord, according to the JMC press statement
DRC: Increased prospect of MONUC access to government areas
The UN Observer Mission to the DRC (MONUC) has been given some hope of progress on its wish to deploy military liaison officers (MLOs) in particular government-held areas, according to IRIN sources on Tuesday. While junior defence minister Dieudonne Kayembe last week dismissed as "tendentious and full of lies" a UN briefing paper to the UN Security Council, and blamed MONUC for adopting as their own statements made by the Ugandan- and Rwandan-backed rebel movements, that reaction may have been aimed at sparking a more proactive approach to the conflict by the UN, sources in the DRC told IRIN. Perhaps in acknowledgement that MONUC elicited more reports from rebel-held areas where it had MLO teams than government-held areas where it had not been allowed to deploy, Kinshasa was thinking of allowing MONUC access to the government-held towns of Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi, they added.
DRC: Alleged Ikondere killer seized
Lima Oskari, reported to have been the leader of the Mayi-Mayi militia group that killed Ugandan army Lt-Col Reuben Ikondere in Beni on 14 November, was arrested on Friday in Butembo by a joint group of intelligence officers from the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie - Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML), community elders and the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), the semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper reported late last week, citing RCD-ML official Mbusa Nyamwisi. Oskari had been taken under heavy escort to the UPDF barracks at Rwenda airport, three km east of Butembo, and was due to be moved to an undisclosed location in Uganda, the report added.
DRC: Wamba says partition precluded by Kabale deal
RCD-ML leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba said in a New Year's Eve statement that one of the most important aspects of the 'common front' of Congolese rebel movements established in Kabale, Uganda, on 21 December was that it dispelled any notion of the partition of the DRC. The common approach formally reaffirmed the rebels' attachment and loyalty to "a lasting peace, national unity, reconciliation and democratisation", and should scatter "retrograde deviations like that of even promoting the dream of partition ... which is in total contradiction with the defence of national [territorial] integrity," Wamba said on rebel-controlled Bunia radio. While remaining political differences and a degree of mutual distrust precluded a merger between the three rebel groups, the leaders' forum and rotating membership of two joint commissions on political/diplomatic and military issues were an example of the "collective leadership" the DRC could expect in terms of a political future, he added. DRC: Failed talks between MLC, Kinshasa reported
Jean-Pierre Bemba has said a meeting between his MLC movement and the Kinshasa government on Thursday to explore possibilities of a settlement was unsuccessful, and alleged renewed clashes on Friday in its wake, Associated Press (AP) reported. Bemba had sent MLC secretary-general Oliver Kamitatu to a meeting with DRC Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, in the first such contact since the war started in August 1998, but the talks had yielded no result, AP reported on Friday. Kakudji had been accompanied to the talks by Bemba's father, DRC minister for the economy Bemba Saolona, the agency said. Bemba claimed to have repulsed a government advance on Libanda and killed up to 80 soldiers on Friday, but there was no independent confirmation of the claims, AP added.
RWANDA: 20-year economic plan sets ambitious targets
The ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) has released a 20-year development plan aimed at increasing per capita income from US $250 to US $5,000 by the year 2020, RNA reported on Friday. It is also aimed to reduce the number of people below the poverty line from 50 percent to below 20 percent, push for the elimination of famine, increase agricultural productivity and diversification, and increase specialisation on high-value crop and animal production. The plan, the first half of which was to be achieved by 2008, maintained that Rwanda's "external dependency" would be dramatically reversed, bringing down the rate of formal unemployment from 80 to 10 per cent, RNA added.
RWANDA: Remand period for genocide suspects extended
Parliament last week approved a law increasing the remand period for those currently in custody on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda between 1 October 1990 and 31 December 1994, Radio Rwanda reported. The temporary amendment provided for an 18-month extension of the remand period, it added.
BURUNDI: Three reported killed in Gisuru
Rebel raids have continued in various parts of Burundi, with three people killed and 30 homes burned in an attack in Nyabitare, Gisuru commune, in the east of the country, Burundi news agency Azania reported on Monday. Military sources cited by Azania linked the attacks to rebels transiting through the area from Kinyinya and Nyabitsinda to Musongati in Rutana Province, southeastern Burundi. Some 200 rebels have been stationed in Nyabitsinda, where clashes were expected "because of the continued influx of rebels," according to the Azania report.
Nairobi, 4 January 2000, 3:15 gmt
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