IRIN Weekly Roundup 14-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region,

News and Press Release
Originally published
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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]

IRIN Weekly Roundup 14-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region,
covering the period 22 - 27 July 1997

[Please note today's daily update is incorporated in this report]

KENYA - KANU to present review on reforms

Kenya's ruling political party, KANU, has announced that it will present a detailed blueprint of its proposals for a review on constitutional reforms to the country's Attorney-General this week, but says that the review can only be undertaken after the General Election. Pro-reform activitists are insisting that reforms be implemented before the polls and that the talks should be mediated by a neutral person. The announcement follows Saturday's opposition rally in Mombasa which, despite a brief stone-throwing clash with young KANU supporters, was largely peaceful. Fears that the event would turn into a running battle with riot police were calmed after Mombasa's district commissioner, Paul Olando, granted an 11th hour permit for the rally to Islamic preacher Khalid Balala. Balala, who recently returned to Kenya after three years in exile, warned Wednesday that there would be a popular uprising if political reforms were not effected before the elections.

Twenty-two ambassadors in Kenya wrote to Kenya's President, Daniel arap Moi, this week urging him to continue talking to pro-reform groups. This followed a statement by KANU on Wednesday that it would not enter into discussions with the pro-reform lobby, the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC). Leaders of the NCEC said that it appeared KANU was inviting further confrontation.

KENYA - Government urged to stop KANU violence

Opposition leaders and activists have called on the government to stop the violence which they say is perpetrated by KANU youth and the group that calls itself Jeshi la Mzee. They cited Thursday's beating of people outside parliament by the Jeshi la Mzee and the attempt by the KANU youth wing to disrupt Saturday's Mombasa rally. A report by African Rights, released Friday, says that the recent events in Kenya underline the breakdown of law and order in the country, as well as the crisis within the security forces.

KENYA - Government says no to torture hearings

The Kenyan government has rejected a request for an Italian Commission to hold hearings in Nairobi into the torture of Somali civilians during the 1992-1995 peacekeeping mission. AFP reports that at least a dozen Somalis were expected to arrive in Nairobi on Wedesday for the hearings. The Commission is investigating allegations that Italian troops serving with the United Nations in Somalia tortured civilians in 1993 and 1994. An official at the Italian foreign ministry said that neighbouring countries are now being contacted to see if they will host the hearings.

KENYA - Arrests continue

Refugee sources say that arrests of Rwandans in Kenya which began last weekend are continuing in Nairobi and in Mombasa. Over 80 Rwandans were arrested, along with other nationalities, in police sweeps of Nairobi suburbs. President Daniel arap Moi said on Monday that "foreign spies and criminals" were masquerading as refugees in Kenya. The arrests, although unconnected, follow a recent raid by police and officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which captured seven people suspected of being involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Four more were captured in Mombasa, including Belgian national, Georges Ruggiu, a former announcer with Rwandan "hate radio" Mille Collines. ICTR Prosecutor, Judge Louise Arbour, praised the work of Tribunal officials in netting the suspects and thanked the Kenyan Government for its assistance. Twenty-two people are currently held by the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania - the seat of the Tribunal.

BURUNDI - New talks scheduled

The Burundian government and rebels who attended March peace talks in Rome will take part in new negotiations in Arusha under the auspices of Tanzania's former president, Julius Nyerere. The "East African" newspaper says that a spokesman for Burundi's largest rebel movement, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD), confirmed that the rebel group would attend. Burundi's leader, Pierre Buyoya said last week that all party negotiations would be held next month. In March, the CNDD signed a framework agreement for a ceasefire on the basis of negotiations with the government. Buyoya was due to leave for Ethiopia Monday to meet with President Nagasso Gidada and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ahead of international consultations on Burundi planned for Tuesday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The talks, convened by Nyerere, will be attended by special envoys from the United States, European Union, the UN, South Africa and Canada.

Kenya Airways and other airlines, meanwhile, have been authorised by the Kenyan government to fly between Nairobi and Bujumbura. The first commercial service, by African Airlines, left Nairobi last weekend. The UN has announced that it will shortly stop running humanitarian passenger flights between the two countries. Restrictions on air travel to Burundi had been included under regional sanctions imposed after Buyoya came to power one year ago last Friday in a military coup. Burundi's Foreign Minister, Luc Rukingama told the BBC this week that some countries had helped a lot during the sanctions.

DRC - Tensions continue

At least three people were killed and five injured, reported the BBC, when an anti-government demonstration was broken up by police and army on Friday. Eye-witnesses said that police fired shots when dispersing the crowd. President Laurent-Desire Kabila said Saturday that officers of the former Zairean army were involved in an anti-government plot to topple the country. Kabila accused former General Baramoto Kpama, now in South Africa, of being involved. Speaking to army officers, Kabila said that he wanted to set up a highly politicized and republican army. He invited ex-FAZ officers to bury "Mobutism".

DRC - UN Commission welcomed

DRC President, Laurent-Desire Kabila said Sunday that the UN investigation mission looking into allegations of massacres of Rwandan refugees in the DRC could come "whenever they wanted to". Sunday's Kinshasa meeting of African Heads of State welcomed the setting up of the UN Commission but condemned the "campaign of villification and the unjustified pressures exerted on the DRC". The Zairean human rights group, AZADHO, meanwhile, says it has become increasingly concerned with "summary executions" particularly of refugees in Kinshasa and in Bas-Congo region. In a statement received by AFP on Saturday, the organisation says that at least 22 people were killed by ADFL soldiers between 6 and 23 July.

DRC - Finance Minister arrested

DRC Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwana Nanga was reported by local media to be under investigation Friday into illegal money transfers. Sources close to the minister said that he will keep his post until the investigation has been completed. The Minister was recently linked to a scandal involving US $300,000 and misallocation of army funds. The DRC government has denied reports that the Minister is under house arrest.

RWANDA - Survivors say sentences are too lenient

Genocide survivors in Murambi, Rwanda have complained that some prison sentences handed down to people accused of genocide crimes are too lenient. Radio Rwanda reported that ten people were given ten year prison sentences after confessing to genocide crimes. In a recent report, the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) supported the confession procedure which is provided for in Rwanda's Genocide Law.

Thousands of victims of the 1994 genocide will be mummified and exhibited in a museum to commerate the genocide, AFP reported Friday. Rwandan forsensic experts have already begun the task of treating the remains of some of the 20,000 people who died in Gikongoro, southwest Rwanda.

RWANDA - New helicopters for counter-insurgency

Rwanda has acquired two military helicopters which are expected to be used in counter-insurgency operations in northwest Rwanda. The aircraft are two Mi-24 Russian-made combat helicopters widely used in Africa. It was not clear whether the helicopters have been bought or chartered. Rwanda does not yet have an airforce but pilots have been receiving training in South Africa. Earlier this week, South Africa announced that it had agreed to resume arms sales to Rwanda, lifting a suspension imposed unilaterally in November 1996.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE - UN team to explore peacekeeping mission

A UN technical team was scheduled to arrive in Gabon Saturday to explore the feasibility of a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo-Brazzaville. The UN team will stay in the region for about two weeks. Peace talks between representatives of Congo's rival leaders, meanwhile, resumed Saturday in Gabon as a truce held in the capital, Brazzaville. The joint UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Mohamed Sahnoun is quoted by AFP as saying that the atmosphere was positive and that there was a political will to end the crisis. Both sides had been negotiating in Libreville separately during the week. Army sources said last week that 4,000 people had already died in the conflict that began 5 June between the forces of Congolese President, Pascal Lissouba and rival Denis Sassou Nguesso. Efforts to assist 10,000 Rwandan refugees in northeastern Congo have been hampered by the fighting. UNHCR estimates that 20,000 Rwandan refugees are in Congo-Brazzaville.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - France to close base

France will close its military bases at Bangui and Boaur in Central African Republic as part of defence cut-backs, French media reported this week. A total of 1,400 French troops are said to be stationed in CAR. The month-old curfew in CAR, meanwhile, was eased this week as life began to get back to normal following the June mutiny by CAR soldiers.

UGANDA - UNICEF dismayed at non-release of adbucted girls

The Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) offered the release of 21 schoolgirls held since October 1996 in exchange for a ceasefire. The Ugandan Government rejected any conditions attached to the release. UNICEF has expressed dismay that efforts to secure the release of the girls have not borne any fruit. In a strongly worded statement UNICEF urged the LRA to release the girls and do so immediately and unconditionally. The LRA has said that the girls are in various parts of northern Uganda while the government maintains they are being held in Juba in southern Sudan.

A Ugandan military spokesman said this week that Khartoum had stopped supplying the LRA with food although they continued to supply arms.

UGANDA - More deaths in ADF attacks

A further 50 people are reported to have been killed by ADF rebels since the attack on Bundibugo on 16 June, the "New Vision" reported Wednesday. About 20,000 Ugandans are also reported to be in the Beni area of DRC, having fled fighting between the ADF and the Ugandan army.

SUDAN - Ice-breaking visit of US official

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for human rights and democracy, Gare Smith visited Sudan this week - the highest level US visit in more than four years. The visit was aimed at promoting an end to the war in southern Sudan.

ANGOLA - Fears of return to war increase

Fears that renewed hostilities between the Angolan government and the former rebel movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), may lead to a return to war deepened this week. As both parties stepped up verbal attacks and threats, diplomats said that they could not see a way out of the current crisis. In June, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi agreed to a series of UN Security Council proposals designed to salvage the 1994 Lusaka peace accords. The proposals called on Savimbi to hand over areas under his control and to provide accurate numbers of his forces. The Security Council gave Savimbi until 15 August to comply. Diplomats say that so far little has been done to meet the demands. On Wednesday the Security Council sounded a new alarm, asserting that UNITA was trying to restore its military capacities and said that it was ready to consider more sanctions against UNITA including trade and travel restrictions. Fuel and arms embargoes are already in place. The Security Council said that increasing tension in the northern part of the country was spreading rapidly to the central and southern provinces with very dangerous implications for the peace process.

Fresh outbreaks of fighting and donors' delay in paying promised funds are jeopardising the disarmament and demobilisation of UNITA rebels, says the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). IOM which is implementing the programme said that funds would run out in late August if donors failed to provide the US $4.1 million still owed. Only 61,600 of the roughly 159,000 rebels and their families have so far been demobilised. Just over 20,500 of the 61,600 are former fighters, while the rest are family members.

Nairobi, 28 July 1997, 14:25 GMT


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