War and Peace
BurundiSouth Africa and Belgium have reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process in Burundi "to guarantee the well-being of a population that has suffered from civil strife for too long," a joint communiqué said on April 10.
The communiqué was issued in Brussels following a meeting between the facilitator of the peace process, South African Vice-President Jacob Zuma, and the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Louis Michel, to discuss the implementation of ceasefire agreements and the deployment of an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Burundi.
According to the communiqué, Zuma briefed Michel on the ceasefire agreements between the armed groups and the transitional government in Burundi and the expected May 1 handing over of power by President Pierre Buyoya to his deputy, Domitien Ndayizeye, in line with the requirements of the three-year transitional period. (Source: IRIN)
CongoImpunity lies at the heart of violence and armed insurrection in the Republic of Congo (ROC), the London-based human rights group Amnesty International (AI) said in a report on April 9. The report, entitled "Republic of Congo: A past that haunts the future", highlighted the ongoing deliberate targeting of civilians by both government forces and "Ninja" armed rebels.
"From March 2002, dozens of unarmed civilians were killed, tens of thousands displaced, and tens of thousands denied humanitarian assistance in the context of armed clashes between government forces and 'Ninja' combatants," the report said. AI said it was "gravely concerned" that the ROC government had failed to take adequate measures to bring to justice those responsible for the violations.
Testimonies gathered by AI in 2002 confirmed that several hundred Congolese who fled Brazzaville in 1998 "disappeared" at the hands of the security forces when they returned in mid-1999. "Up to 353 refugees returning to Brazzaville from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in May 1999 were extra judicially executed and their bodies disposed of," AI said. (Source: IRIN)
DRCUgandan troops clashed on April 10 with armed tribesmen raiding the abattoir in Bunia, the principal town of Ituri district in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), news agencies reported. The reports said hundreds of Ngiti tribesmen attempting to steal cattle were intercepted in the town by Ugandan troops, who used mortars and armoured personnel carriers to fight off the raiders. Hundreds of local residents, the reports said, fled the town.
Radio Candip in Bunia on April 11 said shooting in the Blue Mount Hill area disturbed local activities throughout April 10. The radio quoted Gen Kale Kayihura, the commander of the Ugandan forces controlling the area, as saying his men were pursuing livestock looters, and asking people to "go on with their normal lives".
The Ituri district is the scene of major fighting between the Hema and Lendu communities. Hostilities date back years, but have escalated over the past four years, resulting in thousands of deaths. The UN mission in the DRC, MONUC, is investigating a massacre on April 3 of up to 1,000 Hema civilians by Lendu attackers in Drodro, 80 km north of Bunia.
The Ituri Pacification Commission, involving all parties to the conflict in the area, opened in Bunia on April 4 to try to end the hostilities. (Source: IRIN)
EritreaTop party officials have been touring European countries to warn Eritreans to "be prepared for any eventuality" ahead of border demarcation. According to Shaebia, the website of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the party's secretary-general Al-amin Mohammed Seid told a recent meeting of Eritreans in Rotterdam, Holland that Ethiopia "is trying to disrupt the peace process and seems to be heading for war". "Accordingly, every Eritrean should be ready for any eventuality," he said.
The independent Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) recently stated that the disputed and symbolic village of Badme - where the two countries' border war flared up in 1998 - was in Eritrean territory. Demarcation of the new border is due to begin in July.
Ethiopia has expressed unhappiness over the pronouncement and indicated it may not accept the ruling. It accused the EEBC of being "unfair" and of "misinterpreting" the Algiers peace accord of December 2000 which officially ended the war. Officials in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, which borders Eritrea, have warned of local clashes if Badme goes to Eritrea. (Source: IRIN)