IRIN Emergency Update No. 232 on the Great Lakes

News and Press Release
Originally published
Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No. 232 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 20 August 1997)

- A leader of one of the suspected gangs terrorising the Indian Ocean city of Mombasa was killed in a gunbattle with Kenyan police Monday night, the 'Daily Nation' reported today. The slain man was identified as Husseini Ali Makuti, a close ally of Emmanuel Maitha, a local leader of the ruling KANU party who was arrested Monday over his alleged involvement in the week-long violence on the coast that has claimed 37 lives. Another KANU activist, Omar Masumbuko, was detained Tuesday night. Opposition party leaders were due to meet the police command in the city today to demand the arrest of a nominated KANU MP, Rashid Sajjad, whom they accuse of bankrolling the disturbances, AFP said. Sajjad has denied the allegation. The 'Daily Nation' reported that 30 ex-servicemen are among the 189 people that have been arrested over the raids which yesterday spread to the tourist destination of Malindi, 120 kms north of Mombasa. The ex-servicemen allegedly took part in the initial 13 August attack on the Likoni suburb of Mombasa which was marked by a degree of organisation and military skill absent from the later incidents.

The opposition and government have traded accusations over who is behind the violence. The Mombasa region voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in the 1992 elections and political tension has risen ahead of elections due before February next year. In the last few days leaflets have been left at the site of attacks telling upcountry migrants - who are perceived to be generally sympathetic to the opposition - to go back home. According to AFP, Kenyans are concerned over history repeating itself. In 1992, some 2,000 people died and 250,000 people were displaced in ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley prior to multi-party polls. International human rights groups accused the government of directing the violence. President Daniel arap Moi yesterday blamed the opposition for manipulating ethnic sentiment on the Coast. However, according to Deputy Provincial Commissioner, Hassan Haji, the events in Mombasa "are not ethnic clashes and there will be no escalation of violence as long as politicians stay out of this thing." He also announced a ban on vigilante groups set up by local residents on the grounds that the security forces had the situation under control, Kenyan TV said yesterday.

- Kenyan constitutional reform talks scheduled to start today under the mediation of a committee of religious leaders have been postponed indefinitely, the 'East African Standard' reported. There have been internal wrangles within the opposition political parties over representation on the umbrella National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) team that would also participate in the talks. Furthermore, a KANU Parliamentary Group meeting yesterday reiterated that the government would not negotiate with the NCEC whose "avowed objective" it said was to "subvert the constitutional order."

- A UN human rights team is due in Kinshasa at the weekend at the start of its mission to probe alleged refugee massacres in DRC. The team is made up of Atsu-Koffi Amega from Togo, Reed Brody from the USA and Andrew Chigovera of Zimbabwe. AFP quoted Amega as saying he had received "multiple expressions of cooperation" from the DRC authorities.

- The DRC authorities yesterday accused France of adopting a "colonial attitude" by rejecting President Kabila's offer to mediate in the Congo-Brazzaville conflict. Information Minister Raphael Ghenda told AFP that Africans were "adult enough" to resolve their own problems. "France has adopted a colonial attitude that demonstrates the archaic nature of relations between France and Africa," he said. According to AFP, France on Monday expressed a preference for the mediation efforts of Gabonese President Omar Bongo.

- UNHCR has reported that the initial result of a registration exercise for refugees in Tanzania's Kigoma region shows an overall reduction of 34 per cent in population figures. As of mid-July, 204,773 people were registered in Kigoma of whom 130,744 are Burundian and 74,029 Congolese compared with an earlier total figure of 311,092. UNHCR attributes the discrepancy to problems with the initial registration process in November last year and spontaneous repatriations. The agency puts the total refugee population in Ngara at 88,195.

- Namibia is prepared to hand over a genocide suspect working in the country on a formal request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to news agency reports. Andre Rwamakuba, Rwanda's education minister during the genocide, is currently employed by Namibia's ministry of health. Namibia has no extradition treaty with Rwanda. Meanwhile, the detention of Hassan Ngeze by the ICTR sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, was extended for a further 30 days yesterday to enable the prosecution to finish its investigations. Ngeze was the former editor-in-chief of the 'Kangura' newspaper.

- At least one person was killed and 16 children abducted in an attack by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern Uganda on Sunday. The privately-owned 'Crusader' newspaper said the LRA overran an army detachment killing one person and wounding three others before attacking a village at Owolo, 26 kms from Gulu, where the children were abducted. AFP reported that the attack follows the redeployment of soldiers from the north to northwestern West Nile region to stamp out an insurgency by rebels of the Uganda National Rescue Front. According to humanitarian sources there is a general belief that the rebels have been defeated in West Nile. Meanwhile, two people were injured on Monday in a landmine blast in southern Mbarara district at the home of a Rwandan national working with the UN in Rwanda, the 'New Vision' said yesterday.

- WFP reports that the "working caseload" of drought affected persons in Karamoja, eastern Uganda, is 29,925. According to humanitarian sources the Moroto-Mbale road has become insecure and trucks delivering food in parts of Karamoja require armed escorts. Last Friday a private truck was ambushed in the region and two people were killed.

- South African President Nelson Mandela plans to "soon" host direct peace talks between Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir and John Garang, the head of the main rebel group the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni would also be present, SAPA said yesterday. Meanwhile, according to the umbrella opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the SPLA is "inching closer" to the southern capital of Juba bringing the airport under threat, NDA radio claimed Tuesday.

Nairobi, 20 August 1997, 17:45 gmt


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