War and Peace
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was calm on 4 June following an attempted coup by a section of the presidential guard, a UN official told IRIN. "However, it is difficult to assess the security situation for the general population and the humanitarian community in the city," said Maj Abou Thiam, the military spokesman of the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC.
Earlier, DRC President Joseph Kabila addressed the nation over state radio and television radio, urging the public to continue with their daily activities as the situation was under control.
Foreign Minister Antoine Ghonda had told IRIN at 05:15 local time (4:15 GMT) that the coup attempt had been foiled, and those responsible arrested. A group of presidential guards had announced on state radio and television at 02:40 local time that they had neutralised the institutions of the transitional government. Ghonda noted that the coup plotters did not have support from either the members of the current government or external forces.
The peacekeeping force of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) said on 3 June it remained optimistic about a breakthrough in the stalled peace process between the two countries.
"I think what UNMEE is most concerned about is finding or helping the parties to find a solution to the impasse," the UNMEE spokeswoman, Gail Bindley Taylor Sainte, said. "We have to remain optimistic because we remain here, and as long as we remain here we remain optimistic that things will move ahead."
"The real issues are between the parties and the EEBC [Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission] and that is where things remain. It has to be resolved at that level," she added. "What we can do is assist in some way once we know where we stand, but we have to first see what each side is prepared to do and where there can be compromise."
Sainte, addressing reporters at a weekly video-linked press briefing from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was "very much involved [in the peace process] with letters moving back and forth".
GREAT LAKESLeaders from Africa's Great Lakes region on 5 May directed Burundi to begin its electoral process immediately so that polls could be held by 31 October, as stipulated in the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accord of August 2000. The leaders gave the directive at end of their summit in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. They rejected a Burundian government proposal to extend the three-year political transition by one year.
During the 5 May summit, the leaders said the elections must proceed at once in a manner that "ensures expeditious implementation of the electoral process, through undertaking simultaneous implementation of activities".
Meeting under the auspices of a regional initiative to restore peace in Burundi, presided over by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the regional leaders also imposed immediate "restrictions" on the Forces nationales de liberation. This is a dissident Hutu movement led by Agathon Rwasa that is the only group yet to sign a ceasefire agreement with the government. Three other former dissident groups have signed ceasefire agreements and are participating in the transitional government.
NIGERIAA dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on Wednesday on the town of Numan in Nigeria’s eastern Adamawa State. Police were given orders to shoot troublemakers on sight after two days of deadly clashes between Christians and Muslims leaving 10 dead.
Fighting broke out on Tuesday over a dispute about the construction of a new mosque next to the house of a Christian tribal chief in the mainly Christian town on the banks of the Benue River. The clashes continued on Wednesday before police reinforcements brought the situation under control.
The fighting in Numan is the latest episode of religious violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, wedged between the predominantly-Islamic north and largely-Christian south.
Last month, the Nigerian Red Cross quoted residents of Yelwa in Plateau State as saying more than 600 Muslims were killed there when militiamen from the mainly Christian Tarok ethnic group launched an attack on the small town. The Yelwa massacre provoked the reprisal killing of Christians in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria. President Olusegun Obasanjo subsequently declared a state of emergency in Plateau State to clamp down on the religious violence.
Nigerian labour unions called off a three-day-old general strike on 4 June, citing “substantial compliance” by the government with a court order to cancel the fuel price increases which had triggered the stoppage.
The Nigeria Labour Congress began the strike on 5 June in response to a 20 percent hike in petrol, diesel and kerosene prices that took effect on 29 May. The NLC was giving the government seven days to ensure that fuel dealers across this oil-rich country of 126 million people reverted to the old prices. Union leaders had defied a high court order, issued late on Tuesday, which instructed them to shelve the strike while at the same time directing the government to reverse the price rises.
SUDANAnnan has called for the deployment of an "advance team" in Sudan to pave the way for a future UN peacekeeping mission once a comprehensive peace agreement has ended the 21-year civil war.
"I am convinced that the deployment of an advance team... would show the commitment of the international community to assist the parties," said Annan in a report presented to the UN Security Council on 3 June. "The international community faces a truly daunting task in helping the government of Sudan and the [rebel] SPLM/A [Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army] to overcome their differences during peace implementations," he added.
Annan said the sheer size of Sudan, which is as large as Western Europe, and a total lack of infrastructure meant that it was important to send staff there as early as possible so that they could handle the inevitably daunting logistical challenges. He warned that the advance team would need the full cooperation of both the government and the SPLM/A at all times, and would need to be granted complete and unrestricted freedom of movement throughout Sudan, as well as exemption from passport and visa regulations, and the right to import and export all necessary property, supplies and equipment.
UGANDALRA rebels launched a fourth raid within a month on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda on 11 June, killing at least 19 people and burning over 200 huts, the Ugandan army and witnesses said.
The army spokesman in the area, Lt Paddy Ankunda, told IRIN from Gulu town, 360 km north of the capital, Kampala, that the LRA had attacked the camp located 50 km southeast of the town, at sunset and ignited several huts. "They [rebels] killed 19 civilians, the majority of whom were burnt inside their huts," Ankunda said on 9 June. "Other people were killed during crossfire as they tried to scamper for their lives, and 10 injured people have been admitted in Ngai hospital."
Tommy Ayieko, a teacher in the area, told IRIN that over 100 rebels raided the camp. He said in an exchange of fire with the army, many grass-thatched huts caught fire, burning some of the victims inside.