War and Peace
BurundiThe Burundian government held is due to hold two days of talks beginning June 16 with the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Force pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) rebel faction led by Pierre Nkurunziza, a Burundian radio station reported.
Bonesha FM radio reported that the talks would be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where Nkurunziza lives. It quoted Communications Minister Albert Mbonerane as saying that the government had already received an invitation to attend the talks.
The Burundian news agency ABP reported on June 11 that the government was ready to resume ceasefire talks with Nkurunziza's faction. ABP quoted the president's principal adviser on missions, Ambroise Niyonsaba, as saying that the talks would be held under the aegis of the Regional Initiative on Burundi.
A ceasefire agreement was signed on December 3, 2002 between Nkurunziza's faction and the government but CNDD-FDD rebels groups have continued attacks against government forces. (Source: IRIN)
Central AfricaThe Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has repatriated 1,108 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the neighbouring Republic of the Congo since June 9, an official of the Central African Republic said on June 11.
A reporter of a national committee in charge of receiving the returnees, Jean-Claude Beleka, said the UN agency began the repatriation of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on June 9. The repatriation of those in the Republic of the Congo (ROC) began on June 10, when the first 52 refugees were flown to Bangui, the CAR capital.
The first 200 of some 3,500 Central African Republic refugees who had been living in the DRC since June 2001 arrived on June 9. About 2,000 had been living in Brazzaville, the ROC capital, and in the northern towns of Impfondo and Betou. (Source: IRIN)
Cote d IvoireA first contingent of about 60 paramilitary gendarmes arrived in Cote d'Ivoire on June 12 to beef up the West African peacekeeping force in the country, where rebels occupying the north are shortly due to begin a process of disarmament.
Commander Nestor Djido, the head of ground forces of the five-nation peace-keeping force, said the gendarmes from Senegal, Ghana and Benin were the vanguard of a force of 300, that would reinforce the existing multi-national force of 1,300 soldiers.
Djido, who is from Benin, said the gendarmes were flown into Abidjan aboard a French military transport plane. The rest would arrive over the next few days or weeks as and when an aircraft was available to go and collect them, he added.
The West African peacekeepers from Benin, Togo, Niger, Senegal and Ghana, are working alongside 4,000 French troops to maintain a two-month-old ceasefire between rebel and government forces. This followed the signature of a peace accord in January and the formation a government of national reconciliation in April.
Cote d'Ivoire, the most prosperous country in West Africa, erupted into civil war last September following a failed coup. The United Nations estimates that 750,000 people were displaced internally by the fighting and about 500,000 fled to neighbouring countries, particularly Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. (Source: IRIN)
DRCThe EU Council adopted on June 11 a decision to deploy troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to form part of the 1,500-strong multinational force requested by the UN Security Council.
In a statement issued from Brussels, the EU said it had launched the military operation in the DRC, codenamed "Artemis", in accordance with the mandate set out in the UN Security Council Resolution 1484.
The UN resolution, adopted on May30, authorised the deployment of an interim emergency multinational force in Bunia, eastern DRC, until September. France offered to lead the force and is contributing 750 troops. The remainder were to come from other EU countries. So far, Belgium, Britain, Portugal and Sweden have indicated that they would contribute to the EU component of the force.
The force is mandated to secure the town of Bunia, which has been rocked by fighting since May 7, when the Ugandan army withdrew. The multinational force is also mandatedto protect Bunia airport, UN staff, humanitarian workers and internally displaced people in camps in the town. (Source: IRIN)
DRC-RwandaThe Rwandan army has denied taking part in fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo between two local rival militia groups, the Rwandan News Agency reported on June 11. In the three days of fighting that began on June 6 in North Kivu Province, the Rassemblement Congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) captured three localities from its rival RCD-Kissangani-Mouvement de liberation, or RCD-K-ML, led by Mbusa Nyamwisi.
Rwandan army spokesman Maj Jill Rutaremara said Nyamwisi's forces had often accused the Rwanda army of fighting alongside the RCD-Goma. "Rwanda has not had any troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo since last year," Rutaremara said.
However, one of Nyamwisi's bodyguards, "Commander" Jacque Hagi, said that the Rwandans used helicopters and tanks to support seven RCD-Goma battalions take the localities of Kanyabayonga, Mbingi and Alibongo. "We are trying to fight off the helicopters and tanks," he said. (Source: IRIN)
GhanaPolice have questioned former president Jerry Rawlings over his recent allegations that some ministers in Ghana's current government were involved in the serial killing of women that gripped the West African country between 1994 and 2001.
Rawlings said he had information that 15 Ministers in President John Kufuor's cabinet had a direct hand in the murders of 34 women over a seven-year period.while he himself was head of state. Rawlings made the allegations at a public forum to commemorate the 24th anniversary of a coup that brought him to power for the first time on June 4, 1979.
Police questioned Rawlings about his claims at his residence in Accra on June 11, but the former head of state refused to give any specific names.
A spokesman for Rawlings said afterwards: "Mr. Rawlings said he will only reveal the names of those Ministers if the government will invite an independent investigator to conduct a lie-detector test on him and those implicated in order to minimize the telling of lies in the case. If these conditions are accepted, he is ready to reveal the names today."
Ghana's Inspector General of Police, Nana Owusu-Nsiah, said he was "profoundly disappointed with the utterances and conduct of the former president."
Rawlings made the allegations against leading members of Kufuor's ruling New Patriotic Party at a time when he is widely expected to be called to give evidence before Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission about the alleged torture and murder of political activists during his own period of nearly 20 years in power. (Source: IRIN)
LiberiaThe Liberian capital Monrovia remained quiet on June 12 for the second day running, but relief workers said nearly 50,000 people displaced by a rebel push into the city's western suburbs were living in extremely difficult conditions at a sports stadium and several schools
"In all locations, the priority needs are water and sanitation, food,shelter, medical services and protection," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said following an inter-agency assessment. "Reports of diarrhea and measles continue, leading to concern over possible outbreaks of epidemics if the security situation in Monrovia does not improve."
The assessment team reported on June 12 that at least 30,000 people were living in extremely difficult conditions in the Samuel Doe sports stadium, where the government had ordered displaced people to gather. A further 19,000 were concentrated in four school compounds, it added.
The executive director of the government Liberian Refugees, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), Sam Brown, said at the stadium that some 20,000 of the displaced had been registered by June 12. But their needs were overwhelming, he added.
Other empty spaces and buildings in Monrovia also teemed with people. But as government and rebel representatives prepared to sit down for a resumption of stalled peace talks in Ghana, the city of one million people was calm and there were no reports of fighting. (Source: IRIN)