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Africa
Reports on Ethnic Relations  /  Rapports sur les relations éthniques    

The following section is mainly consisted of part, full or summaries of articles taken from newspapers.
La section suivante est essentiellement constituée d'exraits, de la totalité ou de résumés d'articles issues de journaux .



AFRICA

02 / 04 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article: "AU focuses on conflicts"

The African Union summit came to an end late Monday night with several pledges by the continent's leaders to try tackle crises blighting the continent.

African heads of state pledged to tackle conflicts in at least seven states on the continent, during the summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Although the first ever AU summit was to resolve technical sticking points on the fledgling organisation's constitution, attentions soon turned to war.

Crises in Burundi, the Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Comoros and Liberia all fell under the spotlight.

The AU's conflict resolution body – which was attended by the heads of state – spent most of Monday focusing on the crises. In Madagascar, it called on the AU to recognise Marc Ravalomanana as the legitimate president of the country.

The AU reiterated that African peacekeepers would be sent into Burundi and that it would re-double efforts to ensure peace in strife-ridden Ivory Coast.

In the end, it took just 20 minutes for the AU to resolve the technical hiccups that had overshadowed the launch of the organisation in Durban in July 2002.

The 28 heads of state and six prime ministers agreed to six main amendments which included issues such as the role of women and the importance of the African Diaspora.

But, like its much-criticised predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, money again looks set to be an issue that could strangle the AU.

No-one has yet put a price on what running the AU will cost the continent' s population. Even senior officials differ starkly in their estimates.

One told IRIN that US $100 million a year would suffice to run four ‘organs' - the Assembly, the Executive Council, the Permanent Representatives' Committee and the Commission. Another claimed that the AU would need an annual budget in the region of US $500 million if it were to be taken seriously.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Foreign Minister of South Africa, told journalists on Tuesday that despite an obvious cash flow problem, the AU would push ahead.

"The organisation is functioning but of course we are putting a new structure into place, a new commission, that will have different needs and therefore we may need more resources," she said.


The Article: "Mugabe slams political interference"

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has urged African leaders to resist attempts by the international community to interfere in the continent's domestic politics.

Speaking at the opening on Monday of a two-day African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Mugabe said Africa was becoming more united and looked forward to the day of a United States of Africa.

"We want to see these countries firmly united and recreating a United States of Africa – that is what we want to see and that is what is coming," Mugabe said.

"The institutions are now evolved," he said during a break in the Heads of State meeting at the UN Conference Centre where the talks are being held.

As Mugabe spoke Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, went on trial for treason. Tsvangirai and two senior colleagues in the Movement for Democratic Change pleaded not guilty to treason charges over an alleged plot to kill Mugabe.

The Addis Ababa talks, the first extraordinary summit of the AU, was called to resolve constitutional sticking points among leaders after the birth of the organisation in Durban, South Africa, in July 2002.

Mugabe, a veteran nationalist and vocal critic of colonialism, warned that Africa must still fight for its economic freedom. "We have decolonised the continent and that political position of the sovereignty of the African states and the greatness of Africa has got to be maintained," he said.

"We have got to prevent any interference in the domestic affairs of African states," Mugabe added. "But we must work also for our economic development – that is where we are still backward."

Mugabe urged a common market for the entire continent adding that it would help lift Africa out of poverty.


The Article
: "Protect children during conflicts, UN official urges"

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu on Friday urged countries affected by armed conflicts to draw inspiration from Sierra Leone, where the conclusion of a peace agreement paved the way for a programme focusing on the demobilisation and reintegration of about 7,000 former child soldiers.

As a result of the programme, Otunnu told African leaders at the 26th summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Friday in Dakar, Senegal, a national commission on war-affected children was set up. He added that a special court established last year would pay special attention to crimes committed against children.

Otunnu said a powerful network of civil society organisations had developed throught Sierra Leone for the protection of children. In this they are assisted by 'The Voice of the Children', a radio station set up by and for children. Members of the UN Mission for Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL, also receive training in child protection and law, he added.

On the other hand, Otunnu was worried about the plight of children in the war situations in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia, despite efforts by UN agencies and NGOs to protect them.

He called for a concerted subregional policy geared toward peace so that children displaced within or outside their countries are no longer deprived of schooling and health care, and are no longer raped or mutilated.

However, Otunnu noted that ECOWAS had set up a service for the protection of children caught up in conflicts. The service was created in April 2002 after a series of visits to regional countries during which Otunnu had urged parties not to recruit child combattants and to refrain from attacking places frequented by civilians, such as schools and hospitals.

Otunnu urged African heads of state and parties to conflicts to return to traditional norms and values which used to prevent warriors from attacking children, women and the aged during ethnic conflicts. He also reminded the heads that, once war broke out it was the duty of states to protect children, rehabilitate them and reintegrate them into society.

More than 120,000 children are caught up in wars in Africa. Many of them are in West Africa.

BURUNDI

02 / 04 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article: "Government, rebel faction meet to discuss ceasefire implementation"

Representatives from the transitional government of Burundi and Jean-Pierre Nkurunziza's faction of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces nationales de liberation (CNDD-FDD) are meeting in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, with a view to reaching an agreement on the implementation of the Arusha ceasefire accord signed in December 2002.

The meetings, which began on 30 January, between the political and the defence and security technical commissions from the two sides are scheduled to last a week. They would focus on ways of implementing the ceasefire that, so far, has been largely ignored, sources close to the talks told IRIN on Tuesday.

"The South African facilitators spent the morning consulting both delegations separately, and in the afternoon, the technical commissions began their work," Rajabu Hussein, the CNDD-FDD secretary-general, told IRIN. "We will negotiate each and every point, but it is normal that there should be some things that the two delegations don't agree on."

Hussein said that on 9 February there would be a meeting in South Africa between Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and Nkurunziza. This meeting would centre on issues unresolved at the ongoing talks this week.

South African diplomats in Tanzania confirmed this, saying that the two groups would be reporting on progress made so far to the chief facilitator of the ceasefire talks, South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Although the two groups are said to be "committed", observers citing the recent escalation of the conflict in Burundi say there is much yet to be agreed on if the 3 December 2002 ceasefire is to be fully implemented on the ground.


The Article
: "President Buyoya calls for African peacekeeping force"

Burundi President Pierre Buyoya called on Monday for an African peacekeeping force to help resolve the bitter civil war in the tiny Central Africa state.

He told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, that he welcomed the African Union's (AU) decision in January to deploy a military mission to oversee ceasefires signed by the Burundi government and rebel groups. Troops from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa are expected to be sent until a UN peacekeeping force replaces them. Buyoya was in Addis Ababa for the first AU summit that ended Monday, a day ahead of schedule.

While welcoming such a peacekeeping mission, he said Africa was not yet ready for a continental army - a suggestion that has been floated for decades. "The single army in Africa is an objective for the future," he said.

Burundi's civil war broke out in 1993 after soldiers from the minority Tutsi-dominated army killed the first democratically Hutu president. Hutu rebels continue to reject a ceasefire and have intensified their attacks since the new government was installed in November 2001.

The move to send in peacekeepers came after South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma visited the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in January. He is the facilitator of the Burundi ceasefire process, and has described the situation as "very urgent".

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, with the support of the international community, brokered a deal under which the Tutsi and Hutu communities would share power so as to end the war.

ETHIOPIA

02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article
: "New camp identified for frightened Sudanese refugees"

The Ethiopian government has identified a new camp for Sudanese refugees in the country after over 100 Sudanese were killed in violent ethnic attacks over the last five months.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the new site at Odier in western Ethiopia can accommodate 24,500 refugees.

"[It] was chosen based on its accessibility, proximity to administrative and security establishments, and the tribal composition of local residents," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said. "Most important, the site was chosen with the consent of the refugees themselves, who want to move from the sprawling, insecure Fugnido camp."

The attacks at the existing Fugnido refugee camp in Ethiopia's Gambella region were sparked by increased tensions between Nuers and Dinkas on the one hand, and Anuaks on the other.

The Ethiopian government has reportedly rounded up those accused of the killings and brought them to court.

Fugnido camp, which was established in 1991, accommodates more than 28,700 refugees and is the largest of five refugee settlements in the Gambella region, where a total of 85,000 Sudanese are sheltered.

UNHCR said the government had promised that adequate security would be provided at the new site. "At present the road leading to the site is a 'no-go' area for UN staff due to clan tensions in the region," Redmond said.

If the Odier site is declared safe, UNHCR estimates it will cost about US $1.8 million to turn it into a camp for 23,000 Nuers and Dinkas.

"There has been a long history of antagonisms between Anuaks and Nuers, both inside the camp and within the Ethiopian host community," UNHCR said in a report. "Given that the history of revenge killings dates back to 1995, all the tribes involved agreed that relocation of the Nuers and Dinkas was the only feasible solution."

Mahmood Syed Hussain, who heads the UNHCR office in Gambella, said terrified Nuer and Dinka refugees have already returned to Sudan, fearing further attacks by the Anuaks.

"They have returned to Pochalla, a border town in southern Sudan, where they will wait to return to Ethiopia once the new camp is established in Odier," he said.

In the worst attack, last November, 42 people were killed when the Anuaks clashed with the Nuers and the Dinkas in Fugnido camp.

LIBERIA

02 / 26 / 2003

IRIN 

L'article:
"Une association des droits de l'homme critique l'introduction du visa de sortie"

La Commission Justice et Paix du Liberia a critiqué la réintroduction par les autorités libériennes du visa obligatoire de sortie pour quiconque (les citoyens du pays et les étrangers) désirant sortir du pays.

Le gouvernement a introduit le visa le 18 février. D'après le Bureau de l'Immigration et de la Naturalisation, la décision a pour but d' "avoir une base de données complète des personnes vivant au Liberia". La Commission a déclaré mardi qu'elle constitue une violation du droit à la liberté de circulation. La mesure "contrevient à l'Article 13(b) de la Constitution libérienne qui garantit aux citoyens le droit de sortir et d'entrer au Liberia à n'importe quel moment, sans conditions préalables", a-t-elle rappelé.

La JPC a invité le gouvernement à reconsidérer sa décision.

Une figure de proue de l'opposition, Charles W. Brumskine, a indiqué qu'on lui avait refusé le visa de sortie lorsqu'il l'a demandé le 21 février. M. Brumskine et d'autres responsables du Parti de l'Unification du Liberia (LUP) devaient effectuer une tournée dans cinq nations d'Afrique de l'Ouest pour solliciter un appui au processus électoral libérien.

C'est la troisième fois que le visa de sortie est imposé sous l'administration du président Taylor. Introduit en 1997, il a été supprimé puis réinstitué en 2002, avant d'être à nouveau aboli après avoir été largement condamné par les organisations locales des droits de l'homme.

02 / 25 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Taylor accuses Guinea to Security Council for aiding LURD"

Liberia has filed a nine-count complaint at the UN Security Council against neighbouring Guinea for "supporting a terrorist organisation" namely the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) to destabilise it.

In a letter addressed to the President of the UN Council dated February 18, President Charles Taylor said "the government of Guinea facilitated the establishment of LURD by permitting the recruitment, training and arming of Liberian refugees living in refugee camps in the territory of Guinea"

Taylor further said: "LURD combatants have been permitted to freely move in and out of Guinean territory carrying arms, ammunition and other supplies into Liberia, and to retreat into Guinea for refuge and medical care. The support to the LURD has been facilitated by a close working relationship between the Guinean Army and LURD officers and contacts at the highest level of the Guinean Government."

According to the Liberian government, Guinea's support to the LURD had "significantly contributed to the displacement of over a third of the Liberian population, which resulted into a major humanitarian crisis in Liberia". The LURD, it added, "committed atrocities resultinginto the killing, maiming, rape abuse and abduction of countless Liberians".

President Taylor's letter cited instances of LURD presence in Guinea as indicated in a report of the UN Panel of Experts of 11 April, 2002; the report of the ECOWAS Security Assessment Team of 14 June, 2002; the Human Rights Watch report Vol. 14 no.4(a) of May 2002; the International Crisis Africa report No. 43 of 24 April, 2002 as well as news reports.

The Liberian government said Guinea was in violation of several regional treaties and international resolution including Security Council resolutions 1343(2001) and 1408(2002), the Mano River Union Non-Aggression and Security Cooperation Treaty signed between Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in 1986, the ECOWAS Protocol on Non-Aggression, the African Union and the UN charters.

Liberia requested "the Security Council to take necessary urgent measures to end this destabilisation and destruction of Liberia in keping with its responsibility for international peace and security".

Guinean Foreign Minister, Francois Lonseny Fall, in an interview with Radio France Internationale on Wednesday however denied that his country supports LURD rebels.

Fall was quoted as saying "We are not backing the LURD at all. The LURD's headquarters is in Voinjama, in Liberian territory. The LURD is not the only group that is against President Taylor...85 per cent of Liberian politicians are in exile. We wish all Liberian politicians return home so that political life returns to normal."


02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Fighting threatens planned talks, warns civil society"

The Civil Society Movement of Liberia has warned that renewed armed hostilities between rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and government troops in the west of the country threatens to mar planned peace talks.

Peace talks on Liberia are scheduled for Bamako, Mali next month under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Saar Philip Joe, the Civil Society Movement president told reporters onFriday that the movement would like both the government and the rebels to halt the fighting as a demonstration of their sincerity towards the restoration of peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.

The movement has 48 member organizations including the Teachers Association, the Press Union of Liberia and the Liberian Federation of Trade and Labour Unions.

"All that Liberians desire now is total peace during this crucial time when the country prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections on October 14, 2003," Joe said.

In January, a delegation of ECOWAS parliamentarians met with representatives of the LURD in Freetown, Sierra Leone and convinced the rebels to accept dialogue with the government of President Charles Taylor. The LURD reportedly accepted to hold talks and also dropped their earlier demand for Taylor's resignation.

The ECOWAS team later met Taylor, who also announced he had agreed to talks with the rebels, but ruled out any power-sharing agreement.

The LURD who have fought to topple Taylor since 1999, stepped up their attacks at the start of February against government troops and took control of strategic western towns including the provincial headquarters of Tubmanburg, about 60 km west of Monrovia and Bo-Water side, along the Liberia-Sierra Leonean border.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, causing a fresh major influx into existing internally displaced persons' camps and stretching the capacity of the humanitarian community. Recently the government said it was seeking more land to set up temporary camps for the newly displaced.


The Article:
"Protect Liberian refugees, government urges Cote d'Ivoire"

The Liberian government on Friday again expressed its concern about a reportedly increasing wave of brutalities and inhumane treatment against Liberian refugees in Cote d'Ivoire.

A foreign ministry statement said Liberia was protesting the illegal acts of some Ivorian security personnel and mobs "for maltreating,harassing, intimidating, beating which in some instances resulted into deaths and raping Liberian refugees".

The Liberian government, the statement said, urges its Ivorian counterpart "to ensure the protection and safety of Liberian refugees". It added that about 40,000 Liberian refugees were caught up in the Ivorian conflict.

Late last month, Liberia's Justice Minister, Lavela Koboi Johnson, had protested what he said were credible and reliable reports that Liberians were being attacked and killed by Ivorian security personnel and mobs.

The minister said the reports were "disturbing", adding that under international agreements, the Ivorian government had an obligation to protect Liberian refugees both during periods of peace and in times of conflict.


02 / 04 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Civilians flee renewed fighting in Kley district"

Hundreds of civilians, mainly women and children, fled fighting on Tuesday in Kley District, 37 km west of Liberia's capital, Monrovia, between Liberian government forces and members of the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).

The fighting occurred three days after President Charles Taylor reported that LURD had attacked government troops in the northwestern provincial town of Bopolu, about 100 km from Monrovia.

Civilians who fled to Monrovia with their belongings on their heads told IRIN on Tuesday that they had heard the sound of sporadic gunfire and bombardments coming from the direction of Kley. They said that on Monday, they had heard heavy gunfire from Tubmanburg which, like Kley, is in Bomi County.

There was a heavy buildup of government troops on Tuesday at the Po-River bridge, about 15 km west of Monrovia. Police ambulances could be seen transporting wounded government soldiers to Monrovia. There was, however, no official comment from the government.

Monrovia, remained calm. The National Human Rights Center, whose membership includes nine local human rights organizations, said in a statement on Monday that the humanitarian situation resulting from the renewed fighting was "disturbing". It called on the LURD to cease hostilities, saying that fighting did not augur well for democracy in Liberia.

On Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reported that the rebels had fought a fierce battle with government troops at Cheesmanburg, 18 km north of the capital, and had advanced within striking distance of Monrovia.

Kley and Tubmanburg were captured by LURD in February 2002 but were retaken by government soldiers after two months of fighting. Bopolu, once a stronghold of LURD rebels, was recaptured by government troops in September 2002.

The rebels have been fighting since 1999 to overthrow Taylor.


02 / 03 / 2003

IRIN 

L'article:
"L'Envoyée humanitaire visite des centres de transit"

L'Envoyée humanitaire pour la crise en Côte d'Ivoire, Carolyn McAskie, a conclu ce lundi une visite de trois jours au Liberia, durant laquelle elle a visité de nouveaux centres de transit établis pour les milliers de personnes ayant fui les combats dans le pays voisin, la Côte d'Ivoire.

Mme McAskie, accompagnée des chefs des agences onusiennes au Liberia, a visité le centre de transit Saclepea, que le HCR projette de transformer sous peu en un camp de réfugiés. Situé à Saclepea, une localité libérienne de l'Est, le centre héberge actuellement quelque 200 réfugiés ivoiriens. Le HCR et ses partenaires – incluant Médecins sans frontières et le Programme alimentaire mondial – ont indiqué que le site pourrait accueillir jusqu' à 3 000 déplacés. En tant que camp de réfugiés, il pourrait héberger environ 10 000 personnes.

Mme McAskie, qui a visité des abris, des installations sanitaires et des centres d'alimentation thérapeutique, a interrogé les réfugiés sur leurs conditions de vie, sur les difficultés auxquelles ils ont à faire face, et sur ce que l'ONU et la communauté internationale pourraient faire pour leur venir en aide. Les représentants des réfugiés ont lancé un appel pour qu'ils puissent retourner en Côte d'Ivoire de sorte que, comme l'a exprimé une jeune femme, ils puissent être "avec leurs familles" là-bas. Ils ont également évoqué leurs besoins en matière alimentaire et non alimentaire.

Mme McAskie leur a déclaré qu'elle s'est rendue auprès d'eux pour écouter leurs histoires et pour " amener leurs souffrances aux yeux du monde". Elle s'est engagée à intervenir auprès de l'ONU et d'autres instances au nom des réfugiés ivoiriens, des rapatriés libériens et des ressortissants de pays tiers affectés par la crise.

Au 21 janvier, 69 370 réfugiés et rapatriés avaient été enregistrés et "leurs nombres continuent d'augmenter", a signalé le HCR. Le chiffre inclut 39 204 rapatriés libériens, 25 081 réfugiés ivoiriens, et 5 445 ressortissants de pays tiers, dont la grande majorité est issue du Burkina Faso.

"Les nombres réels des rapatriés et des réfugiés pourraient être bien plus élevés car il est impossible de contrôler tous les points d'entrée", a rapporté dans une note d'information le Bureau de Coordination des affaires humanitaires de l'ONU (BCAH/OCHA).

Traversant des villages le long de routes accidentées et poussiéreuses, la mission s'est rendue à Karnplay, à 76 km au nord de Saclepea, où vivent des Libériens, des Ivoiriens, des Burkinabè et des Sierra Léonais ayant récemment fui l'ouest de la Côte d'Ivoire. Karnplay est l'un des quatre centres de transit ouverts par le HCR depuis le déclenchement du conflit ivoirien.

Des représentants de chaque communauté ont raconté à l'Envoyée de l'ONU l' attaque du 28 novembre à l'ouest de la Côte d'Ivoire, qui les a forcés à fuir. Ils ont sollicité des vivres et d'autres produits, notamment des médicaments pour les femmes enceintes et celles qui allaitent, et ont déclaré qu'en définitive, ils voudraient retourner dans leurs pays d' origine.

Mme McAskie, qui était accompagnée du président de la Commission libérienne pour le rapatriement et la réinstallation des réfugiés, a assuré les déplacés que les agences onusiennes au Liberia feront tout ce qu'elles peuvent pour les aider, et qu'elle lancera un appel pour leur venir en aide.

L'Envoyée de l'ONU a également eu des entretiens avec de hauts responsables publics, des ONG et des délégations étrangères, comme l' ambassade des Etats-Unis dans la capitale, Monrovia.

Dès son arrivée samedi, à l' issue d'une visite de 24 heures au Burkina Faso, Mme McAskie a rencontré l'Equipe de l'ONU dans le pays [les représentants de plusieurs agences onusiennes travaillant dans le pays], qui ont exprimé leur inquiétude pour le Liberia, et ont insisté sur la nécessité pour la communauté internationale de rester centrée sur le pays, où de nouveaux problèmes pourraient surgir avec les élections présidentielles et générales prévues en octobre prochain.

Le représentant du HCR, Moses Okello, a déclaré que la crise ivoirienne avait créé "l'existence de la tentation d'oublier le Liberia" qui, avec 80 pour cent de sa population vivant en-deça du seuil de pauvreté et un nombre de chômeurs encore plus élevé, reste un acteur déterminant pour la paix et la sécurité de l'Afrique de l'Ouest. "Le Conseil de sécurité doit recentrer ses efforts sur le Liberia d'une manière soutenue", a insisté le directeur par intérim du Bureau de l' ONU de construction de la paix au Liberia.

Vendredi, Mme McAskie a discuté avec l'Equipe de pays de l'ONU au Burkina Faso de l'impact de la crise ivoirienne sur ce pays. Elle a rencontré le président Blaise Compaoré qui lui a fait plusieurs recommandations, qu'il faudrait notamment que l'ONU appuie l'accord que les parties ivoiriennes ont signé à Paris à la fin janvier.

Mme McAskie, qui voyage avec Besida Tonwe, directeur du Bureau d'OCHA d' appui régional, sis à Abidjan, est attendue lundi en Guinée.

 

REPUBLIQUE CENTRAFRICAINE

02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

L'article:
"Des déplacés rentrent chez eux malgré le manque de sécurité"

Des personnes déplacées à l'intérieur de leur pays, originaires de Bozoum (à 384 km au nord-ouest de la capitale, Bangui) ont commencé à rentrer chez elles après que le gouvernement, soutenu par les forces alliées, ait repris cette ville le 13 février, a rapporté, le 22 février, la station officielle Radio Centrafrique.

« A l'heure où nous parlons, un calme précaire règne à Bozoum, » a déclaré à la station Jean-Pierre Sacko, sous-préfet de Bozoum.

20 000 habitants de Bozoum ont fui leur domicile pour se cacher dans le maquis depuis le 19 décembre 2002, lorsque les rebelles fidèles à François Bozizé, ancien chef d'état-major de l'armée régulière, ont occupé la ville.

Depuis lors, le manque d'accès à cette population déplacée a rendu impossible l'apport de toute aide humanitaire.

M. Sacko a, par ailleurs, ajouté que ces personnes déplacées sont rentrées chez elles alors que la sécurité n'est pas encore rétablie dans la ville. Il a demandé au gouvernement de dépêcher des forces de police et de gendarmerie pour garantir l'ordre public et la sécurité. Il a précisé que quelques rebelles, qui ne connaissent pas la région, continuent de se cacher dans des habitations abandonnées ou encore dans les montagnes environnantes. M. Sacko a indiqué que ses services, des organisations de jeunesse ainsi que la Croix-Rouge locale réfléchissent aux moyens d'enterrer les corps qui jonchent les rues de la ville afin d'éviter la propagation d'épidémies.

Interrogé sur le massacre présumé de Tchadiens et de musulmans par les forces gouvernementales et leurs alliés du Mouvement de libération du Congo, faction de la République démocratique du Congo, M. Sacko, qui s'est rendu à Bozoum le lendemain de sa libération, a affirmé n'avoir constaté aucune trace de ces présumés massacres.

Néanmoins, il a confirmé l'existence de tensions entre les Tchadiens et les habitants indigènes de Bozoum. Il en a attribué la cause aux rebelles qui, lors de leur occupation, ont protégé les Tchadiens mais maltraité les indigènes. Il a indiqué que des rencontres avec la population sont actuellement organisées en vue de dissiper les tensions.

02 / 21 / 2003

IRIN 

L'article:
"Le gouvernement rejette les allégations liées aux violations de droits humains"

Le porte-parole du gouvernement de la République centrafricaine (RCA), Gabriel Jean Edouard Koyambounou, a rejeté ce jeudi les allégations selon lesquelles les troupes loyalistes et leurs alliés congolais ont perpétré des violations des droits de l'homme en reprenant aux mains des rebelles des villes du nord du pays.

Dans un communiqué lu sur les ondes d'une station de radio officielle, M. Koyambounou a déclaré qu'il fallait faire une distinction entre les personnes déplacées à l'intérieur de leur pays, citoyens innocents, et les jeunes drogués recrutés par les rebelles fidèles à François Bozizé, l'ancien chef d'état-major de l'armée centrafricaine. Dans une déclaration antérieure, M. Koyambounou avait précisé que les victimes étaient des complices rebelles.

Les troupes du gouvernement ont lancé, le 13 février, une contre-offensive contre les rebelles, reprenant les villes de Bozoum (à 384 km au nord-ouest de la capitale, Bangui), Sibut, Kaga Bandoro et Grimari (respectivement à 184 km, 342 km, et 305 km au nord-est de Bangui), et Bossangoa (à 305 km au nord de Bangui). Bossangoa, le lieu de naissance de Bozizé, était le fief des rebelles avant d'être repris mercredi par l'armée régulière.

Depuis la reconquête de ces villes, le gouvernement et les forces alliées auraient commencé à faire la chasse aux Tchadiens, aux Musulmans et à tout citoyen centrafricain soupçonné de complicité avec la rébellion, selon grand nombre d'informations. Des milliers d'habitants auraient fui les combats en direction du sud du Tchad.

M. Koyambounou a affirmé que ces opérations ne visent « aucune ethnie, moins encore une communauté étrangère vivant sur notre territoire ».

Le gouvernement a réfuté ces accusations quelques jours après qu'une association française de défense des droits de l'homme, la Fédération internationale des droits de l'homme, a porté plainte auprès du Tribunal pénal international contre le président de la RCA, Ange-Félix Patassé, Jean-Pierre Bemba (le chef du Mouvement de libération du Congo, un mouvement rebelle de la République démocratique du Congo combattant aux côtés du gouvernement de la RCA) et Abdoulaye Miskine (ancien chef rebelle tchadien présumé, aujourd'hui partisan de Patassé), les accusant de crimes de guerre et de crimes contre l'humanité.

Au micro de Radio Centrafrique, le ministre des affaires intérieures, Jacquesson Mazette, s'est efforcé jeudi de rassurer les communautés tchadienne et musulmane vivant en RCA, leur garantissant une totale protection de la part du gouvernement. Il a, ensuite, enjoint à l'ensemble des autorités administratives dont les zones ont été libérées, de réintégrer immédiatement leurs fonctions.


02 / 25 / 2003

IRIN 

L'article:
"Les troupes loyalistes reprennent une ville au nord-ouest"

Le gouvernement et les forces alliées étrangères ont repris le fief rebelle de Bossangoa, à environ 300 km au nord-ouest de la capitale de la République centrafricaine (RCA), Bangui, a annoncé le président Ange-Félix Patassé au micro de Radio France Internationale.

« En fait, Bossangoa est sous notre contrôle depuis ce matin, » a précisé le chef de l'Etat lors d'une conférence de presse qui se tenait mercredi à Paris, à la veille de l'ouverture sommet franco-africain, à laquelle participera M. Patassé.

La reprise de Bossangoa par les forces du gouvernement et ses alliés du Mouvement de libération du Congo, une faction de la République démocratique du Congo voisine, est une victoire hautement symbolique car c'est précisément dans cette localité qu'est né François Bozizé, l'ancien chef de l'état-major militaire, aujourd'hui à la tête de la rébellion. Il s'agit également de la dernière ville importante avant la frontière tchadienne qui se trouve à environ 150 km plus au nord.

Cette nouvelle survient quelques jours après la reconquête par l'armée de Sibut (à 184 km au nord-est de Bangui), de Bozoum (à 384 km au nord-ouest de Bangui) et de Kaga Bandoro (à 342 km au nord de Bangui). Le porte-parole du gouvernement, le ministre Gabriel Jean Edouard Koyambounou, avait annoncé le 14 février que toutes les provinces devaient être libérées avant l'ouverture d'un dialogue national provisoirement prévu en mars.

Depuis lundi, la presse locale dénonce les violations de l'armée régulière et de ses alliés congolais envers les Musulmans des villes qu'ils ont reprises. Parmi les victimes, figurent des Tchadiens mais aussi des ressortissants centrafricains, soupçonnés de complicité avec les rebelles. Face à ces contre-offensives gouvernementales, les habitants locaux fuient vers le nord en direction du Tchad.

SOMALIA

02 / 25 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"International committee to monitor ceasefire accord"

An international committee is being set up to monitor a shaky ceasefire accord signed by Somali faction leaders, Kenya's special envoy for Somalia Bethwel Kiplagat said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at a plenary session to relaunch the Somali peace talks at their new venue in Mbagathi, near Nairobi. The conference was moved from the western Kenyan town of Eldoret for financial reasons.

The Mogadishu-based Transitional National Government (TNG) boycotted the plenary to protest against the new conference facilities, while a number of factions were also absent.

"We have already contacted the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union and all are now committed to be members of the committee which will be monitoring the ceasefire in that declaration [of 27 October 2002]," Kiplagat told the conference.

"IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] of course is a member of that committee and also the United States of America," he said. "And I will be calling the committee this week to discuss what action we need to take for those who violate what they have signed."

Referring to the departure of the Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) from the talks, Kiplagat said those who wanted to leave could do so.

"Even if there are only two of us to work for Somali peace, we shall remain only two of us," he stated.

Kiplagat, who chairs the IGAD technical committee which is organising the conference, stressed it was time to get back to work. The six technical committees deliberating core issues of the conference should resume and would not need more than two or three works to complete their work, he said.

TNG BOYCOTT

The TNG information minister Abdirahman Adan Ibrahim "Ibbi" said the transitional authorities were boycotting the meeting because the conference organisers had not given sufficient consideration to the "importance" of the TNG, and the new premises were "not suitable".

Speaking by phone from a Nairobi hotel, he nevertheless said the TNG would return to the conference if given suitable accommodation.

Conference organisers are threatening to stop paying the TNG's bills at their central Nairobi hotel.

A number of faction leaders were also absent from the plenary. At a press conference, they said they had written to Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka listing their grievances.

These included a demand that Kenya should be allowed to run the conference alone, without "interference" from Ethiopia and Djibouti. These three "frontline" countries make up the IGAD technical committee which is steering the talks.


02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Faction leaders want Kenya to run peace talks alone"

Faction leaders attending the Somali peace talks in Kenya have condemned the slow pace of the conference and accused Somalia's neighbours - the so-called frontline states - of working for their own interests.

A statement, signed by 11 faction leaders, blamed "continuous contradictions, differences and misunderstandings" between the three frontline states - Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia - for the "very slow progress of the process".

The frontline states, the statement said, were "contesting for their own interests in Somalia, as well as [for] the existing political differences of those countries".

"Such an attitude shows that there is a deliberate attempt to fulfill a hidden unknown political agenda with the objective to wreck the reconciliation process and consequently blame the Somalis," it claimed.

To this end, the leaders said that Kenya, as the host nation, should have sole responsibility for conducting the process "without any interference of the Ethiopian and Djibouti governments".

The statement also said that the allocation of delegates' seats was still mired by "doubt and confusion" and called for the immediate formation of an "Arbitration Committee" among the Somali clans.

The statement further condemned moving the venue of the talks from the western town of Eldoret to the Nairobi suburb of Mbagathi. The new venue, it said, lacked essential facilities and was not suitable for hosting important events.

Signatories of the statement include Abdirizak Isak Bihi, Barre Aden Shire, Jama Ali Jama, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Aden Abdullahi Nur, Osman Hassan Ali (Atto), Musse Sudi Yalahow, Omar Mohamoud Mohamed, Mowlid Ma'ane Mohamoud, Ahmed Omar Jess and Abdullahi Ga'al Abdi.

The statement came as one delegation - the Kismayo-based Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) - walked out of the talks on Sunday reportedly because "Ethiopia's involvement is too much", according to a JVA spokesman, quoted by the Associated Press.


02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"No government of 'warring faction leaders', rights activists say"

Somali human rights activists have stressed that the outcome of the ongoing Somali peace conference in Kenya should not be a "government of warring faction leaders".

In a declaration, issued by the London-based Amnesty International organisation, activists from 23 organisations who met in Hargeysa earlier this month, said they would increase their struggle against human rights abuses in Somalia.

These, according to the declaration, include arbitrary killings, torture, arbitrary detention and kidnapping. The declaration asserted that they would also work for the equal rights of all, with full protection for vulnerable groups such as women and minorities.

The statement urged the Somali political authorities to "publicly recognise the legitimate role of human rights defenders in the protection and promotion of human rights".

"The outcome of the peace talks should not be a government of warring faction-leaders giving themselves total impunity for their gross violations of human rights," the statement said. "Somali political leaders who believe in peace and human rights must unite now to stop the cease-fire violations, arbitrary killings, rape, kidnapping and financial extortion."

"The regional and international sponsors of the peace talks must strive harder to secure this commitment and see it in action as a basic pre-requisite for any new transitional government," the declaration added.

Participants in the Hargeysa meeting included the Peace and Human Rights Network, Coalition of Grassroots Women's' Organisations, Dr Ismail Jumale Human Rights Organisation from Mogadishu; Dulmidiid Centre for Human Rights from Puntland; Isha Human Rights Organisation from Baidoa; Kisima Peace and Human Rights Organisation from Kismayo; and Nagaad Women's Coalition, Hornwatch and several others from Somaliland.


02 / 04 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Factions face sanctions for ceasefire violations"

Somali factions attending peace talks underway in Eldoret, Kenya, face expulsion or other sanctions if they continue to violate the ceasefire agreement, Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka warned on Monday.

Speaking on behalf of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee, which is steering the talks, he expressed concern that since the deal was signed on 27 October, factions and warring parties had continually violated the agreement. He was speaking at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. The technical committee is made up of the so-called frontline states - Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Somali groups meeting in Eldoret agreed to suspend all hostilities for the duration of the conference.

However, since then, there have been continued violations, with fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, the towns of Las Anod in the northeast and Baidoa in the southwest, and in the Bari, Bay, Bakol, Gedo and Lower Shabelle regions. At least six schoolchildren were killed in an attack on a school bus in Mogadishu in December.

Musyoka said the frontline states had agreed to set up a committee to monitor implementation of the ceasefire which would be empowered to take action. IGAD has played a key role in bringing Somali faction leaders and the Transitional National Government (TNG), headed by President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, to the negotiating table.

"These violations are causing great suffering and loss of life to the people of Somalia as well as jeopardising the peace process and undermining humanitarian assistance," Musyoka told reporters in the Ethiopian capital.

"We are looking at everything, including perhaps making sure that the violators are not allowed to travel to various parts of the world," he added. "We have been able to identify, almost with certainty, that the violators are linked to the delegates who are now meeting in Eldoret."

Musyoka also called on the international community to apply pressure on faction leaders and not to bankroll groups still involved in fighting and breaching October's ceasefire. "What we are telling the international community is not to give comfort to any of the possible factions who come knocking at their doors in an effort to try and derail the peace process currently under way," he stressed.

Somali delegates on Tuesday welcomed the formation of a monitoring mechanism. "It is long overdue. This should have been in place from the beginning," prominent civil society member Prof Muhammad Abdi 'Gandhi' told IRIN.

He said IGAD should impose a strict sanctions regime against "any group or individual" who violates the agreement. "They [faction leaders] must know that there will be a price to pay for any violations. It is the only language they understand," he said.

Meanwhile, Musyoka announced that the peace talks would move from Eldoret to Mbagathi in Nairobi within two weeks, as part of a cost saving initiative.

But some delegates expressed reservations over the move. "There are too many distractions in Nairobi," one Somali delegate told IRIN. "Also it will next be impossible to stop the large Somali community in Nairobi from coming to the venue of the talks."

02 / 03 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Peace talks stalled"

The Somali peace conference underway in the Kenyan town of Eldoret is said to have stalled for lack of a quorum by the regional technical committee which is piloting the proceedings, a source close to the talks told IRIN on Monday.

"Nothing is happening here [Eldoret] today, and nothing has been happening in the last few days," he said.

Of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee members "only the Djibouti delegation is in Eldoret", said the source.

The newly appointed Kenyan special envoy, former Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat, who is the chairman of the talks, is reported to be away, and the Ethiopian envoy to the talks, Abdulaziz Ahmad, is said to be in Ethiopia. The IGAD technical committee comprises Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti.

"Everybody is waiting for the technical committee to reconvene and restart negotiations," a Somali delegate told IRIN. Some prominent faction leaders are also absent from Eldoret. They include Mogadishu-based faction leaders Muse Sudi Yalahow, Usman Hasan Ali Ato, Husayn Aydid, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah and Gen Muhammad Sa'id Hirsi Morgan of the Somali Patriotic Movement.

"The IGAD needs to get its act together before the talks lose momentum", a regional analyst told IRIN. "If the talks do not pick up momentum soon, then the best outcome may be to declare them on hold," he warned. The absent leaders, some of whom are in Nairobi, while others are in Somalia, must be brought back to talks, he added.

The talks, which opened on 15 October last year under the auspices of the IGAD, have been fraught with difficulties, notably over the allocation of seats to delegates.

Meanwhile, the court case of faction leader Mawlid Ma'ane was mentioned on Monday. Mawlid Ma'ane and two of his supporters are facing charges related to an attack on a prominent member of civil society, Prof Muhammad Abdi Gandhi, last week.

SUDAN

02 / 25 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"US stresses commitment to peace"

The US government has emphasised its commitment to a peaceful end to Sudan's long running conflict.

In a new report, Walter Kansteiner, the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, said that bringing peace to Sudan was a key priority of President George Bush's administration.

The report, entitled "Peace, Conflict and Mediation In Africa: An Historic Opportunity in Sudan", said bringing peace to Sudan was also in the national security interest of the US government.

"I am pleased to be able to say that we have an historic opportunity to achieve peace. President Bush and Secretary [of State Colin] Powell are deeply committed to this effort," Kansteiner said.

He said a just settlement of the Sudanese conflict would contribute to regional stability in the strategic Horn of Africa, and help in the US global war against terrorism.

The Khartoum government is on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. "We have made clear to the Sudanese government that we expect it to cooperate fully against terrorism," Kansteiner said.

"Bringing about a peace settlement with a bill of rights which protects the fundamental freedoms of all Sudanese will contribute to the evolution of a more moderate Sudanese Government, and complement efforts to obtain cooperation against terrorism," he added.

Sudan's civil war, fought largely in the south between the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Islamic government in Khartoum, is one of the longest-running conflicts in the world, in which an estimated two million people have been killed and four million displaced. The two sides are currently holding peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"I am convinced that a peaceful, unified Sudan can have a prosperous future and become a lynchpin for stability in the Horn of Africa," Kansteiner said. "The prospect of peace remains a big if, but is now clearly within the grasp of Sudanese leaders on both sides if they can muster the necessary political will."

"We must all be hopeful that they will demonstrate the vision to seize this historic opportunity," he stressed. "If they do not, the world and we will have no choice but to walk away. That is not in our interest or theirs. Let us remember that millions of lives are at stake. They need our engagement and our prayers."


02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The article:
"Amnesty urges probe on security situation in Darfur"

The United Kingdom-based human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) has expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where armed bandits have in the past few months intensified attacks on civilians.

AI has urged the Sudanese government to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the situation in the region, with a view to preventing its possible escalation into another civil war similar to that fought between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south of the country.

According to AI, hundreds of civilians, mostly from sedentary agricultural groups like the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawah, have been killed or wounded, their homes destroyed and herds looted by nomadic groups over the past few years. Sometimes dozens of civilians had been killed in a single raid, AI noted.

Recently, bandits attacked government forces and the manager of the Jabal Marrah Development Project based in the region. "The situation must not be allowed to deteriorate further into another Sudanese war. Those who commit crimes, must be brought to justice, but international human rights standards of fair trial must be respected," AI.

According to the rights body, which in January sent a team of experts to Sudan to investigate human rights abuses in Darfur, the sedentary groups have complained that government forces have failed to protect them, and suggested that the attacks were an attempt to drive them from their lands. "Government responses to armed clashes have been ineffective and have resulted in human rights abuses," the AI statement said.

"We met leaders of the Fur who had been arbitrarily thrown into prison without charge or trial, and denied communication with the outside world for up to seven months. Leaders of nomad groups have been similarly treated. Special courts set up in 2001 have sentenced people to death without even the presence of a lawyer. Such abuses of human rights will only cause more bitterness," it added.

However, according to a Sudanese senior diplomat in Uganda, the government already set up a special commission to investigate insecurity in Darfur two years ago and is currently working on strategies to address the problems of insecurity in the region, which were found to be largely associated with poverty and underdevelopment.

Siraj al-Din Hamid, the Sudanese ambassador to Uganda, told IRIN that the government in Khartoum had allocated a budget to address the basic needs of the population in the region.

"This is a remote area. There is underdevelopment. All development in Sudan has been centred in the middle of Sudan and Khartoum," Hamid said. "But the country is so vast and resources are scarce. The suspension of external aid to the country for the last 13 years has aggravated the [problem]."


02 / 04 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article: "
Government, rebels sign new MOU on cessation of hostilities"

The government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday to reaffirm their commitment to the total cessation of hostilities, spokespersons from both sides told IRIN.

The spokesman at the Sudanese embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Muhammad Dirdiery, said the MOU provided, for the first time, for a verification mechanism to monitor all ceasefire violations. "In case of any violations, the party will have to surrender the area taken," he added.

The monitoring team would consist of representatives from the government, the SPLM/A, the US, the UK, Italy and Norway, and they would start "immediately", said Dirdiery. The existing US-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team monitoring team would be incorporated into the new team, he added.

"This means that the war which has continued for 19 years has been brought to an end," said Dirdiery, adding that the ceasefire would cover the entire country.

A spokesperson from the SPLM/A was not immediately available for further comment.

On 31 January a pro-government militia group in Sudan, the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A), had captured the town of Akobo in Upper Nile State, Dirdiery told IRIN.

The town had been under the control of the SSLM/A until 19 October, he added, when the SPLM/A retook it in breach of the previous MOU on the cessation of hostilities, signed by both sides to the conflict on 17 October. George Garang, an SPLA spokesman, confirmed to IRIN that the town had been taken by about 1,700 soldiers, who were assisted by helicopter gunships.

UGANDA

02 / 24 / 2003

IRIN 

The Article:
"Military protocol with Sudan extended"

The Sudanese and Ugandan governments have extended the duration of the validity of a military protocol they signed in March last year, thereby allowing the Ugandan army to continue pursuing the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in southern Sudan.

Sudan, however, only agreed to extend the protocol on condition that Uganda would reciprocate by ending its support for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), a rebel group fighting the Khartoum government in southern Sudan, according to media and diplomatic sources.

Under the new terms of the protocol, signed after military talks on 21 February, Ugandan forces are allowed to pursue the LRA - which is has been fighting to overthrow president Yoweri Museveni's government since the mid 1980s - on Sudanese territory until 31 May 2003.

The talks had been jointly chaired by Bakri Hasan Salih, the Sudanese minister of national defence, and Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi, Sudanese TV reported.

The protocol accordingly also included a provision ending Ugandan support for SPLM/A in the form of military supplies or training, according to a senior Sudanese diplomat.

Siraj al-Din Hamid, the Sudanese ambassador to Uganda, told IRIN on Monday that military officers from Sudan would be deployed along the borders to monitor the movement of supplies into Sudan. He said the Ugandan side was so far cooperating on its obligations under the terms of the protocol.

"Cooperation from Uganda is forthcoming. I believe an understanding was reached on the issue of illicit transfer of arms to the SPLA," Hamid said. "What we wanted was not to allow illicit transfer of arms, or supplies other than humanitarian supplies. And this is a very good step forward."

He said the agreement had opened the door to improved bilateral diplomatic ties and future cooperation. A joint ministerial commission is expected to meet between 27 and 29 April to chart the way for future areas of bilateral economic cooperation, according to Hamid.

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