DR Congo + 2 more

IRIN Update 850 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Uganda denies training Lendu people

The Ugandan authorities have denied training Lendu tribesmen, who are involved in a bloody ethnic war with their Hema rivals in northeast DRC. On 15 January, the Associated Press quoted the Christian Blind Mission (CMB), an aid agency active in the area, alleging that Colonel Peter Kerim, a senior Ugandan military officer had trained and armed 1,000 Lendu tribesmen with profits he had made from the sale of coffee. "The army officer they are talking about, Colonel Peter Kerim, is not in active service and lives in his village of Alur, and in any case all training camps for the Congolese are inside Congo not Uganda," Lt. Colonel Noble Mayombo, the deputy chief of military intelligence in the Ugandan army told IRIN on Monday.

Uganda backs the RCD-Mouvement de Liberation (RCD-ML) of Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, which controls the Bunia area affected by the tribal clashes. The rebel movement has already denied involvement in the clashes.

CMB has produced graphic video tapes of the bloody clashes and estimated some 5,000 Hema people had been killed since the majority Lendu erected roadblocks around Bunia town. Tension in the area was heightened when Adele Mugisa Lotsove was appointed by Wamba dia Wamba as the governor of Ituri, a new province created from parts of North Kivu and Province Orientale. She was later sacked and has since defected to Jean-Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC).

DRC: Goma volcano erupts

The Nyamuragira volcano, north of Goma in eastern DRC, made intermittent eruptions over the weekend, according to local residents. "The volcano made a lot of noise. Because of the war going on in this country many people thought the place was under attack," Leonard Kababe, a resident of Goma told IRIN on Monday. Some reports spoke of people running in fear. The Nyamuragira volcano is within the Virunga range bordering both Uganda and Rwanda. The area has a long history of volcanic activity that has led to loss of life and property.

DRC: France pledges more support

The French government at the weekend reiterated its readiness to offer logistical support for an eventual peacekeeping operation in DRC. "Therefore, France's commitment is very strong," Radio France Internationale quoted French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine as saying during a meeting with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila in Paris on Saturday. "France's commitment to a solution is very clear," Vedrine said. "Notably through the French proposal, which is already old, I mean a big conference to resolve all problems of the region." "Of course, this conference will be held at the appropriate time, but pending this conference, there is the need to actually implement the Lusaka accords," he added. He said his country's bilateral relations with DRC had also "started improving again in quite good conditions".

President Kabila, for his part, expressed gratitude to France for the "courageous" position it adopted at last week's UN Security Council meeting on the DRC, RFI reported. "The statement made by French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin was an outstanding and solemn one, and for the first time we, from the DRC, were very happy that things were said as clearly as they were," he said. "In other words, there is an aggressor, and the aggressors must leave the territory that they are occupying." He said DRC's relations with France must improve, "initially in the bilateral cooperation sector". "Also, there is need for France and other big powers to make their voices heard in order to enforce the UN Charter," he added.

DRC: Lusaka accord to be observed "in two weeks" - Kabila

Meanwhile, Algerian television on Saturday quoted Kabila as saying he believed the Lusaka accord "will be put into practice in the next two weeks". Addressing the press during a stopover in Algeria on his return from France, he said "all measures" had been taken so that the agreement could be observed. Last week's Security Council meeting had called on all signatories to the accord to implement it "without violation", he recalled.

DRC: Mediator requests over US $2 million

The newly-appointed mediator for the inter-Congolese national dialogue, former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire, has asked for a preliminary budget of about US $2.7 million for his mission as facilitator. According to Botswanan radio, he told a donors' meeting that the funds would facilitate a new political dispensation in the country. He said the amount would be used for a first round of negotiations, consultations with parties, the facilitation team and for travel. It would also go towards a daily subsistence allowance for delegates, their travel expenses and servicing of the mission. Masire added that the negotiations are expected to last one month, comprising 150 representatives from all parties.

DRC: RCD military leader seeking resources for army

RCD military leader and first vice-president Jean Pierre Ondekane said he went to Europe recently to mobilise resources and establish contacts. In an interview with rebel-held Goma radio on Sunday, upon his return, he said the trip was necessary to help set up a national army. "We cannot buy uniforms with tax collections...not even arms, and yet we have to set up a national army," he said. "I am working on reorganising the army, on finding foodstuffs, uniforms and arms. I am working on how to bring in engineers to build roads as our army is faced with difficulties on some of the warfronts because of a lack of roads." Ondekane added that prior to leaving for Europe, he went to Bukavu in South Kivu where RCD officials "cleansed the financial department". He said there was a thorough cutback in the number of civil servants, some of whom were "confusing the business community and stealing money".

RWANDA: Drinking during working hours banned

The Rwandan cabinet has banned drinking alcohol during working hours. "This is to sensitise all Rwandans to work eight hours per day by avoiding alcohol that may disrupt work," Rwandan radio said in a report of the cabinet meeting. The meeting, chaired by Vice-President Paul Kagame also approved a number of sackings and appointments, including a restructuring of the vice-president's office. Dr Theogene Rudasingwa was named director in the vice-president's office, and David Musema Kweli, Emmanuel Gasana and Annette Mukakigeri were appointed as advisers.

Eugene Kayanga Muzuka was sacked as sub-prefect of Bugumya in Cyangugu prefecture, along with Frank Mwine the mayor of Nyakabuye, also in Cyangugu, for "promoting divisionism in the area".

BURUNDI: Defence minister more optimistic on Tanzania border issue

The Burundian and Tanzanian defence ministers on Saturday held talks in Bujumbura to address the issue of rebel incursions into Burundi from Tanzanian territory, Burundi radio reported. It noted this was the third in a series of meetings to discuss the problem, and quoted Burundian Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye as saying that following the previous meetings there had been no improvement in the situation. However, he was hopeful of a more positive outcome after Saturday's meeting. "We are, today, allowed to nurture some hope," he said. "We hope the current meeting will adopt resolutions which are likely to establish a strong basis for peace and understanding between our border peoples." News organisations reported a joint communique issued by Ndayirukiye and his Tanzanian counterpart Edgar Maokoka Majogo as saying the Burundian government would create "favourable conditions for the conducive return of the refugees". The two men also acknowledged that security along the joint border had improved. The ministers said they would meet again in Tanzania in May.

Nairobi, 31 January 2000, 14:50 gmt


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