Kenya + 3 more

East Africa: IRIN News Briefs, Friday 10 March

UGANDA: Rebels kill 12 in the north
Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have this week killed 12 people and wounded over 30 at Padibe, some 24 km from Uganda's northern town of Kitgum. The semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported that several houses were torched and the raiders also looted the nearby Catholic mission. It quoted Father Carlos Rodriguez, who visited the scene after the incident, as saying that eight of the victims were killed at a displaced people's camp in the town. "The local authorities in charge of security in Kitgum were alerted the day before, but at the time of the attack there were few soldiers stationed at the camp," Father Rodriguez added. The army commander and the acting fourth division commander were reportedly in "a day-long meeting" with President Yoweri Museveni who was on a working visit to the nearby town of Gulu. According to the BBC, two abducted Italian missionaries were later freed by the LRA to "tell the world" the rebels rejected the government's amnesty offer and "wanted to continue with the war".

UGANDA: Museveni urges rebels to accept amnesty

President Museveni at the weekend reiterated that rebels who responded to the amnesty "within the given time frame" would be forgiven. According to Ugandan radio, he assured people in the north that the army was weakening the "bandits" and they would eventually be defeated.

He also told a women's workshop in Gulu district on Tuesday that the suffering of the local Acholi people was "not because of Sudan". LRA leader Joseph Kony was "the real curse on the area", the independent 'Monitor' newspaper quoted him as saying. "People say we talk to Sudan but there was no Sudan in 1966. The problem is not Sudan but ourselves," Museveni said. "This is a chance to chase and finish them [the rebels] because the grass is burnt and the ground is hard."

UGANDA: Minister vows continued support for SPLA

Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya has said the country cannot abandon its "moral support" for the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) because its cause is "genuine". "To be seen to abandon them because we want peace with [Sudanese] President Bashir is not correct," the semi-official 'New Vision' quoted him as saying. "Our moral support for the SPLA is known and Sudan knows that," he said. "We are not ashamed about it." "It is not a question of allowing people to be suppressed," he added. "If the southern Sudanese question is not solved, there can be no peace in the region - there will be false peace."

UGANDA: Ministers urge review of peace deal with Sudan

A meeting between Ugandan and Sudanese ministers in Nairobi last week called for a review of the peace agreement signed last December by President Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir. "In reviewing the agreement, we acknowledge that many of its elements have not yet been implemented," a joint press release said, according to the independent 'Monitor'. "We, therefore, agreed to request our presidents to review the time frame required for the implementation," it added. The paper also quoted Uganda's minister in charge of the presidency, Ruhakana Rugunda, as saying the agreement was supposed to have been implemented by the end of February this year. "But since then, implementation has been slower than was expected, so we found that there is need for more time to
implement all the provisions," Rugunda said.

UGANDA: Referendum to be held in June, July

The referendum to determine the political system in Uganda will be held in June or July, the chairman of the electoral commission (EC), Haji Aziz Kasujja, has announced. According to Ugandan radio, he denied the commission was at fault for any delay, blaming parliament instead. Meanwhile, the opposition Multiparty National Referendum Committee (MNRC) last week protested over literature being distributed by the commission, saying it was "biased in favour of the movement [ruling NRM]", the 'New Vision' reported. "We are not going to allow material that is partial to be distributed by the EC," the paper quoted MNRC chairman Nelson Ocheger as saying.

ZANZIBAR: President advises citizens to "ignore speculation"

Zanzibari President Salmin Amour has advised citizens to "ignore speculation" about possible presidential candidates. Amour warned that certain people were out to create divisions and rifts. A media source explained to IRIN on Thursday that some politicians were moving around "trying to campaign for themselves or others", claiming to be presidential candidates for the October general elections. "It is only the party's Central Committee and National Executive Committee (NEC) who can propose names of candidates," he told a ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) rally recently. The CCM last month blocked a bid by some officials to have the party's constitution changed to allow President Amour to contest a third term.

ZANZIBAR: EU says no aid resumption yet

The European Union (EU) has said it is not ready to resume aid to Zanzibar, citing lack of "significant" change in the political sphere, an EU official told IRIN on Thursday. "The situation has more or less remained the same," he said. "The issue of the 18 opposition detainees [held for over two years without trial] and the fact that certain recommendations agreed on by an an inter-party meeting have not been fulfilled, are some of the reasons," he added. The EU suspended aid to protest over the 1995 elections which the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) claimed had been rigged.

TANZANIA: EU grants US $42 million for projects

Meanwhile, the EU has signed an agreement granting Tanzania US $42 million to fund the country's southern transport programme and tax administration projects, an official from EU in Tanzania confirmed to IRIN on Thursday. The work on the road network in the country's southern Mwanza region will start in the middle of the year.

KENYA: UNHCR puts out fire at Kakuma camp

UNHCR staff have put out a "large fire" at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, the agency's spokesman Kris Janowski told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday. Saturday's blaze, the fourth suspected arson attack in the camp since January, caused no injuries but destroyed the whole block in the Somali portion of the camp "before volunteers were able to bring it under control", he said. More than 700 family shelters have been destroyed and 4,000 people displaced by the fires. He noted that Kenyan police blamed residents of the camp, which houses some 84,000 refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, for the fires which all occurred in the Somali section. UNHCR has put vehicles at the service of additional police units deployed to stop the arsonists, and more water equipment has been put in place for fire fighting. Police have so far made six arrests among the Somali refugee community.


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