DR Congo + 1 more

IRIN Update 859 for the Great Lakes

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: SA denies backing rebels

South Africa's foreign affairs ministry has dismissed claims that the government is arming Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebels fighting to overthrow President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

The allegation, which echoes a similar accusation levelled at South Africa by Kabila himself, was made by Bantu Holomisa, leader of South Africa's opposition United Democratic Movement. He told the South African news agency, SAPA, that he would soon submit a report detailing Pretoria's destabilisation activities in DRC to the United Nations. He called on the government to declare what class of weaponry they had sold to Rwanda and Uganda.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Khangelani Hlongwane told IRIN on Friday: "There is no truth in claims made by President Kabila or Bantu Holomisa that South Africa is arming rebels anywhere in Africa. The South African government's commitment to eradicating conflicts on our continent is well-known and has been proved by our continuous engagement in conflict resolution efforts in Africa."

Hlongwane acknowledged, however, that there are elements and individuals within South Africa who provide support to rebel movements such as UNITA in Angola and those in the DRC. "It is difficult to know everybody and every network that has been providing support to rebel movements during the apartheid-era government. But to accuse the present government of conniving with any rebel movements is ridiculous."

Rwanda has also denied importing arms from South Africa. "Since the Congo war ended, South Africa stopped selling arms to us, it is a good work of fiction for one to allege that we are getting free arms from South Africa," Major Emmanuel Ndahiro, the spokesman for the Rwanda Defence Ministry, told IRIN on Friday.

DRC: Regional heads of states to meet over Congo

A summit of regional heads of states is being planned for this month, according to Amama Mbabazi, Uganda's Minister for Foreign Affairs. Mbabazi is in charge of regional cooperation and also chairman of the Joint Political Committee (JPC) set up to oversee implementation of the Lusaka accord. "Consultations are at an advanced stage, what remains to be fixed is the exact date," he told IRIN.

The summit follows a Security Council meeting held in New York last month to discuss the Congo peace process, especially the deployment of a peacekeeping force. There have been reports of several ceasefire violations since the accord was signed last year.

DRC: Tension reported in UVIRA

Humanitarian sources say there are now believed to be some 50,000 internally displaced persons between Makobola, Luberizi, and Bwegera. They also report that tension is high again between Rwandan troops and the Congolese Banyamulenge Tutsis in the Uvira region. Some local sources say the roots of this latest tension stem from attempts by the Banyamulenge to set up a RCD-Uvira branch of the Congolese rebel movement in mid-December and the subsequent failure of the Banyamulenge to try to stop night incursions by Mayi-Mayi forces in the region. Residents also report that in recent weeks there has been a lot of fighting in the mountains of Kamivira and that the local population there is extremely nervous. They added that in Baraka uncontrolled-armed groups are attacking the local population and looting villages.

DRC: Four Belgians still detained by security authorities

Four Belgians arrested in Kinshasa on 5 and 8 February are still being detained by security authorities, a security source in Kinshasa told IRIN on Friday. "The four are still under arrest and are being interrogated by the authorities," the source said, adding: "The four are human rights workers who were on a tour of three countries in the region to assess the human rights situation."

Radio France Internationale radio reported recently that the Congolese authorities had accused the four of being in possession of subversive documents.

BURUNDI: Meeting on Burundi peace process on

Members of Burundi's national assembly and the government are currently meeting to discuss the peace process, Burundi radio reported on Thursday. The meeting, which was opened on Thursday by the country's first vice-president Frederic Bamvuginyuvira, will end on Saturday.

"The National Assembly and the government wish to reassure everybody and remind people that every peace process is a long-term project which can only be realised gradually, with perseverance and courage and by drawing on the experiences we have gained and the steps so far taken," Burundi radio quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, the office of former president Nelson Mandela said consultations were still underway to schedule a meeting with Colonel Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the Burundian rebel leader of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD). Earlier this week, Mandela, the mediator in the Burundian peace process, held talks with the Burundian premier, Pierre Buyoya.

Nairobi, 11 February 2000, 14:30 gmt


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