IRIN Update No. 497 for Central and Eastern Africa

Report
from IRIN
Published on 08 Sep 1998
UNITED NATIONS
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: Ceasefire accord rejected by rebels

The Victoria Falls summit bringing together all sides in the DRC conflict appeared to end in disarray today (Tuesday) with the rebel delegation stating they would not be bound by a ceasefire agreement. News reports said the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) delegation, including foreign affairs representative Bizima Karaha and deputy president Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, refused to abide by a ceasefire "until [President Laurent-Desire] Kabila negotiates with us directly". AFP quoted Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana as saying the ceasefire would come into effect this evening.

Reuters said the rebels were kept out of the discussions between seven African leaders and talks' chairman, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, negotiated with them separately. The seven presidents - from DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda - reportedly agreed to sign a ceasefire accord, but Ngoma described it as "null and void" because the RCD was prevented from directly participating. "We are going back home now to do one thing only, to intensify our campaign against Kabila," he said. According to Ugandan radio today, the rebels were "very annoyed" that they had been kept in a separate wing of the hotel, in a room without a telephone.

In an interview with the Rwanda News Agency before leaving for Zimbabwe, Karaha said the rebels would fight "until the whole country is liberated". He said Kabila had no legitimacy and therefore there was no question of power-sharing. "The issue is discussing political problems between Congolese people," he told RNA.

25 said killed in Kalemie bombing

As the talks were being held in Zimbabwe, rebel soldiers claimed 25 people were killed yesterday (Monday) in Kalemie after an Angolan warplane bombed the town for the second day running. They said another 40 people were wounded. The rebels also announced they were advancing on the eastern town of Kindu, AFP reported. DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi on Thursday told Gabonese radio there was fighting around rebel-held Kalemie.

Food situation worsening in Kinshasa

The food situation in Kinshasa is growing more worrying as supply lines to the city remain severely disrupted for more than a month, news agencies and UN sources report. Some five million citizens face shortages in basic foodstuffs in the coming days on account of the interruption in the shipment of supplies. Flour has become scarce and the price of bread has tripled, according to reports. To help alleviate the situation, WFP is planning to distribute 700 mt of rice in Kinshasa, according to AFP.

More Congolese refugees flee fighting

UNHCR today reported that 734 Congolese arrived by boat in Kigoma over the weekend, bringing to 3,628 the total number of Congolese refugees who have arrived in western Tanzania since the start of the war in early August. Some 2,700 refugees have already been transferred to Nyarugusu camp, in Kasulu district - a camp established in 1996 to accommodate 45,000 Congolese refugees who fled the 1996/97 war. UNHCR noted that among the 734 new arrivals, 397 were children, 25 of them unaccompanied minors.

RWANDA: Kambanda appeals against life sentence

Former prime minister Jean Kambanda yesterday filed an appeal against the life sentence handed down by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) last week. According to the independent Hirondelle news agency, Kambanda's defence lawyer Michael Ingliss described the sentence as "excessive" given that his client had pleaded guilty to charges of genocide. Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Muna has admitted Kambanda's sentence may dissuade more defendants from pleading guilty, Hirondelle added.

REMINDER: Information exchange meeting

OCHA will hold another DRC information exchange meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am at OCHA premises opposite Gigiri complex.

Nairobi, 8 September 1998, 14:30 gmt

[ENDS]

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