DR Congo + 1 more

IRIN Update 877 for the Great Lakes

News and Press Release
Originally published
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila criticised at Kinshasa conference

Delegates attending the national consultation meeting in Kinshasa have criticised President Laurent-Desire Kabila, saying he is no different to his predecessor Mobutu Sese Seko. According to Reuters news agency, representatives of some political parties and human rights groups called for an "immediate halt to the amateurism and adventurism at the head of state". "In place of the old dictatorship, a new one has made itself at home and the longed-for change has turned out to be pure fabrication, illusions, utopia," human rights groups were quoted as saying.

The press attache at the DRC embassy in Nairobi, Mubima Maneniang Milang, on Wednesday dismissed the remarks. "They were just talking," he told IRIN. "President Kabila has a vision for the country. His resolve to work with those who were in the Mobutu regime is where the problem started." Milang claimed that those who were criticising Kabila were followers of opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi "out to prolong" what Mobutu had started, "thus a new Mobutuism". "He [Kabila] managed to do what they could not, drive out Mobutu," Milang added.

The anti-Kabila remarks apparently "proved too much" for state television, whose live broadcast of Saturday's proceedings went off air shortly afterwards, Reuters said.

DRC: UN to move "quickly but cautiously" on deployment

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday said the UN was "anxious to move as quickly as possible, but also as practically and as cautiously [as possible]" in deploying extra UN military personnel to the DRC. Annan told a New York press conference he would have a better idea of the situation after this week's visit to DRC by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet. "At the same time, we are appealing to governments for troops and for observers," he said. "We have had some offers, but we do not have the entire force put together yet. But we are making progress."

DRC: Government still has "reservations"

However, the DRC government still has "reservations" over the deployment of UN peacekeepers "within its territory", the Nairobi embassy press attache Mubima Maneniang Milang told IRIN. "We think they should be deployed along the borders," he said. "Why should they be in Kisangani which is far from Uganda and Rwanda?" He maintained the "aggressors" were responsible for the war and they "must go first". "Congolese rebels do not have any arms," he said. "They are naked physically and morally, these people cannot fight without the help from their allies."

DRC: Lendu reportedly surrendering arms to Ugandan army

Lendu fighters who have been engaged in a bloody conflict with their Hema neigbours in the Ituri district of northeastern DRC have surrendered their arms to the Ugandan army, the army spokesman told IRIN on Wednesday. "The Lendu have been surrendering their arms, mainly bows, arrows, spears and a few rifles to our units in the area," the spokesman, Captain Shaban Bantariza, said. He said the move followed negotiations to "convince them that killing each other is not a solution". "We shall use the same method to disarm other groups in eastern DRC," he added.

Bantariza also confirmed that the Ugandan army had appointed Colonel Peter Kerim as the liaison officer to oversee reconciliation between the Lendu and the Hema. "Yes, Colonel Peter Kerim is in charge of our unit at Phaida on the border with DRC to make sure the conflict in Ituri does not spill over into Uganda." Last month, the Associated Press quoted an aid agency active in the area, Christian Blind Mission (CMB), which alleged Kerim was training and arming Lendus with profits he had made from sale of coffee.

DRC: Epidemics reported in two provinces

Humanitarian sources report an outbreak of various epidemics, such as cholera, measles and meningitis in Province Orientale and parts of Equateur. Towns such as Kisangani, Isangi, Bumba, Banalia, Likati and Bunia were all said to be affected. The sources said medicines were urgently needed to combat the diseases, and that a stock should be permanently available in Kisangani.

RWANDA: Illegal weapons to be turned in

The Rwandan defence ministry has ordered people illegally owning guns to hand them over to the nearest police station, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Tuesday. It cited a ministry press release as saying those who had not handed in their weapons by the 12 March deadline would be "severely punished". RNA noted that the directive follows recent high-profile killings in the capital Kigali, notably presidential adviser Aciel Kabera who was shot dead outside his home on Sunday.

The National Human Rights Commission has called for a thorough investigation into the murder of Kabera along with other recent killings, including Samuel Sargbah, a Liberian volunteer working for WFP. Its call was echoed by the Coalition of Human Rights Leagues and Associations (CLADHO) in Rwanda. RNA said that according to government media, over 10 people had been shot dead by unknown gunmen since January. Interior ministry sources claimed Kabera's death was related to the current "cycle of murders".

RWANDA: France transfers suspect to ICTR

France has transferred a genocide suspect, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, the Hirondelle news agency reported on Wednesday. Kamuhanda, a former minister of higher education under the interim administration of 1994, was arrested in Bourges, France last November. He is accused of ordering attacks against Tutsis in Gikomero prefecture, Kigali rural, during the 1994 genocide. On Monday, the French Court of Appeal ordered the extradition of another genocide suspect, Francois Xavier Nzuwonemeye, to the ICTR.

RWANDA : Agreement on fuel prices

After a week of negotiations between the Rwandan government and oil importers, both sides agreed on Tuesday that the price of a litre of petrol should be fixed at 310 Rwandan francs and diesel at 305 francs. The deal was announced by Marc Rugenera, the minister for commerce and industries, after a meeting with fuel dealers. "We did not adhere to the prices announced by the finance minister earlier because we had not reached a deal," Egide Gakuba, the representative of fuel dealers, told IRIN on Wednesday.

Nairobi, 8 March 2000, 14:00 gmt


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