DR Congo + 3 more

IRIN Update 858 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: Britain tightens controls on arms' exports

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday announced a tightening of arms' export controls to countries involved in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Reuters quoted Blair as saying that a number of key changes had been introduced to strengthen export controls which would take effect "immediately". He reportedly said that Britain would not grant export licences for new military dual-use equipment "where there is a clear risk that it would be used in DRC". Dual-use equipment means equipment which may also have civilian uses.

"We will remove intervening countries from the coverage of open licences for any equipment that might be deployed in the DRC and will not issue new open individual export licences for such equipment to any of these countries," he said.

The new directive will affect DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Previous British arms deals with Zimbabwe attracted criticism from human rights groups and the opposition.

For its part, Burundi countered that it would be affected "positively" by Blair's directive. "The rebels in our country get their arms from Zimbabwe and also the DRC, so this will mean they don't get the arms," Burundi Army Spokesman Colonel Longin Minani told IRIN on Thursday. "Otherwise we will not be affected because we are not involved in the DRC," he said.

UGANDA-DRC: Uganda says it has captured 11 airstrips in DRC

The Ugandan army has told IRIN it has taken control of 11 airstrips in eastern DRC to try and cut its foes' supply lines. "We have taken over some small airstrips in eastern Congo in order to stop our enemies from using them to bring in supplies, this is in addition to the big ones like Beni, Bunia, Butembo and Kisangani. It is line with our broader strategic objective of denying our enemies' supply lines," Captain Shaban Bantariza, the Ugandan army spokesman in western Uganda, said.

Uganda is fighting rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on its western border and accuses both the Sudanese and Congolese governments of giving logistical support to the ADF. Uganda, itself, has sent troops into eastern DRC to support rebels fighting Kabila's government.

RWANDA: Amnesty commends ICTR for arrest of genocide suspects

The London-based human rights organisation Amnesty International has commended the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for pursuing the arrest of Rwandans suspected to have taken part in the 1994 genocide.

In a statement, Amnesty welcomed the arrest of Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, a former Rwandan army commander, in London on 5 February and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, the former Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie, on 31 January in Belgium.

"These arrests reaffirm the principles of international justice and the importance of providing financial, political and moral support to the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)," the statement said.

On Wednesday, a French court upheld an earlier decision to deport Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda a former Minister for Education and Culture to the tribunal in Arusha, northern Tanzania. He was the first genocide suspect arrested in France.

RWANDA: Rwandan officials meet Carla del Ponte

Meanhile, Rwandan government officials have for the first time met Carla Del Ponte, the ICTR's Chief Prosecutor, in Kigali and admitted that the tribunal is making progress. "She is around meeting government officials and she will also meet our Vice-President (Paul Kagame). We are aware of the shortcomings of the tribunal, but they cannot be blamed on the Chief Prosecutor. She is certainly making progress," Gerald Gahima, the Rwandan Prosecutor-General, told IRIN on Thursday.

Ponte was denied an audience by government officials when she travelled to Rwanda last year following the acquittal on a technicality of Jean Bosco Baryagwiza, a genocide suspect.

BURUNDI: Rebels attack suburb, residents

Hutu rebels attacked Kibenga, a suburb south of Bujumbura, killing two civilians and wounding one other on Wednesday night, according to residents and media reports.

"A small band of rebels attacked the southern end of the city killing two civilians, we repulsed them and killed one. But this is an isolated incident. Security in Bujumbura Rurale has improved. That is why we decided to close regroupment camps," Login Minani, the Burundi army spokesman, said.

More camps will be dismantled only if security is assured for the inhabitants, Minani added. He said there were stil some people in Maramvya camp, north of Bujumbura, which was dismantled on Monday. "The dismantling of the camps depends on the assessment of the security situation in the places the inhabitants are to go to," he said. "If they feel that if they go home they will be in danger then we cannot force them, but will allow them to stay in the protection sites and protect them."

The Burundi government agreed to start closing the camps following intense international criticism.

Nairobi, 10 February 2000, 15:00 gmt


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