Kenya + 3 more

East Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 2 February

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UGANDA: Displeasure over implementation of Nairobi accord
The Ugandan authorities are not satisfied with the implementation of Nairobi peace agreement, signed last year by President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Bashir. "The matter is simple, we support the agreement, but we are not satisfied with the implementation, especially the release of all Ugandans held in Sudan against their will," Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Ugandan minister in charge of the presidency told IRIN on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, President Museveni told a news conference he doubted Sudan's commitment to the Nairobi accord. He called on Sudan to fulfill its agreement by releasing all those abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), based in Sudan. A first group of 21 freed abductees was flown to Uganda on 28 January. Uganda maintains that 30 girls abducted from a missionary college in 1996, whose fate helped bring international attention to LRA abductions, are still in captivity.

Sudan, meanwhile, played down Uganda's comments. "We are not worried about the statement attributed to the Ugandan president," Al-Mansor Balad, a Sudanese embassy spokesman in Nairobi told IRIN on Wednesday. "For our part, we are determined to implement all the stipulations in the agreement. We have already facilitated the repatriation of some abductees and ultimately if the accord is implemented all Ugandans, including the refugees, will be repatriated."

ZANZIBAR: Amnesty levels accusations of rights violations

The London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International last week said the charges of treason being brought by Zanzibari government against 18 members of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party illustrates the "disturbing absence" of human rights protection in the country. "The treason charges against the members of the CUF are politically motivated," Amnesty International said. "There is no substance to the allegations of a violent conspiracy by the defendants to overthrow the Zanzibar government." It said the 18 individuals "are prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned solely on account of their non-violent opinions and peaceful political activities". "The Zanzibar government must set them free and withdraw the charges against them." The CUF members and supporters were initially charged with sedition, but after a month, the charge was changed to conspiracy to commit treason, which is a non-bailable offence and carries a mandatory death sentence.

Amnesty warned that the trial could further be delayed so as to weaken opposition campaigning for the next elections in October 2000. It also expressed concern over the ill-health of a number of the defendants resulting from the prison conditions and "denial of adequate medical treatment". "The Tanzanian government should take all the necessary measures to ensure that Zanzibaris enjoy the same basic rights and freedoms as those prevailing throughout the rest of the United Republic of Tanzania," it said.

A government official in Zanzibar told IRIN the organisation's allegations were "untrue and baseless". He accused Amnesty of "applying double-standards" by "depicting the opposition as the aggrieved party while ignoring the welfare of the common man".

TANZANIA: Cholera kills 19

Nineteen people have died and over 270 others have been infected by cholera this month following an outbreak in Mtwara, southeast Tanzania. Tanzanian radio quoted the provincial health officer, Dr Jamal Mbagah, as saying that cholera was seriously threatening the lives of the region's residents, more so than last year. He said medical personnel had been dispatched to all the affected areas with drugs.

KENYA: British High Commission denies press reports

The British High Commission in Nairobi on Tuesday denied reports by a local newspaper which said an official told pastoralists in Laikipia, central Kenya, to "mind their own business" after they allegedly complained of dangerous explosives, left behind in land designated as a military training zone. "Yes we train there, but we do not use live ammunition," British High Commission Press Officer Rufus Drabble told IRIN. "We recognise and respect the rights of the pastoralists and we conduct our training in a way that upholds this respect and enables them to enjoy their rights."

The 'Daily Nation' reported on Sunday that a British High Commission defence advisor told local residents that "they had no business intruding into those areas". Drabble denied reports that British soldiers training in Laikipia had contaminated grazing pastures in Mukogodo division by abandoning explosives which were killing and injuring Maasai herdsmen. He reiterated that the soldiers used blank ammunition, and stressed that Britain had permission from the Kenyan government to use the area. He added that other military organisations, including the Kenyan army, used the same training zone.

KENYA: Four arrested in Laikipia violence

Meanwhile, police arrested four people in Laikipia district in connection with a recent spate of violence in the area. The area's District Commissioner William Kurumei told journalists last week he was confident that all suspects involved in two months of killings "will be brought to book". The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that the government had reinforced security measures and transferred officers who had been blamed for "laxity".

CJPC Programme Officer Simon Wanjohi said the situation had calmed down and there were no reports of recent killings. "We have had reports of people with arms but we have not verified these," he said. "We are still monitoring the situation." Reasons for the violence are unclear. It was apparently sparked by a highway robbery in which the assailants ambushed a passenger vehicle and killed several people. "But these killings moved from the highway to the interior and some victims were very poor people," he said. Last week, the government ordered nomadic tribesmen from Samburu and Isiolo who had moved into Laikipia district to return with their cattle to their places of origin as they were "creating tension".

KENYA: Security personnel deployed in northwest

The Kenyan government has beefed up security in the northwest to thwart possible incursions by cattle rustlers from neighbouring Uganda. An official from the Office of the President told IRIN on Tuesday that a "large number" of security personnel were in the area since last week. "The situation in the area is calm, there is no problem," he said. The deployment followed the recent killings of 14 Kenyan Pokots by Ugandan Matheniko warriors. The Pokots had crossed into Uganda in search of food for themselves and water and pasture for their cattle. The official also denied press reports that nearly 5,000 Pokots could still be stranded in Uganda after the attack. "We don't have this kind of report nor evidence," he said. "Moreover, it is very hard to verify who is from the neighbouring country or from Kenya because these tribes keep moving from one side to the other."

KENYA: Hectares of crops destroyed, three killed by frost

Three people have died and hectares of crops have been extensively damaged by frost in the Nandi district of Rift Valley province and Nyamira district in Nyanza province, news organisations reported. The frost has ravaged several hectares of tea estates, maize, bananas, sugarcane and other crops. The 'East African Standard' said leaders from Nandi district on Tuesday expressed fear over major economic implications. Two women and a young man have so far died, and a child suffered burns on the face and hands "when cold water dropped on him as he was running to school in the morning".

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