Congo Watch: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Spotlight on Darfur 1 and The Darfur Collection

Last May, Catez Stevens at Allthings2all in New Zealand kindly put together The Darfur Collection.

Now, Catez is initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1 starting September 1. It will feature posts on the current Darfur situation from various bloggers. If you are a blogger and would like to send in a post for inclusion in the Spotlight on Darfur please email Catez for details.

Eugene Oregon at Coalition for Darfur helpfully writes Reminder: Spotlight on Darfur 1.

Note, Catez is planning a regular series of Spotlight on Darfur. If you have missed Darfur 1, there is still plenty of time to prepare a post for Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3 or 4 ...

Monday, August 29, 2005

DR Congo rebel threatens invasion

Renegade Congolese rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda has threatened to re-invade eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to bring "peace" to the area.

He accuses President Kabila of being dictatorial.

In a 17-page letter, seen by the BBC, Gen Nkunda said the transitional administration of President Joseph Kabila was corrupt and intent on promoting instability in the east.

He said the decision to stop more than 200,000 Congolese refugees living in neighbouring countries from returning home to Kivu to participate in the elections showed President Kabila's unwillingness to foster peace.

Elections were due before the end of June under the terms of the 2002 peace deal, but MPs have backed a six-month delay.

According to the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa, the United Nations refugee agency has said it is not logistically feasible to organise the return of the refugees before the completion of the electoral registration process.

Full story at BBC Aug 29, 2005.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda to be repatriated

Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda are to be repatriated, says report at ReliefWeb Aug 26.

Note, currently, there are over 188,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda. The Sudanese refugees take the biggest percentage of the 230,000 refugees in Uganda. Other refugees in the east African country are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and others.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Ex-rebel becomes Burundi leader after a 12-year war leaving 300,000 dead

Report from the BBC today:

Former Burundi rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn in as president, marking the end of 12 years of war which has left 300,000 dead.

He becomes the first leader chosen through democratic means since 1993.

It marks the end of a five-year peace process designed to end the conflict between Hutu rebels and an army led by the Tutsi minority.

Power will be shared under the peace deal with Tutsis guaranteed a share of power and government jobs.

"I pledge to fight all ideology and acts of genocide and exclusion, to promote and defend the individual and collective rights and freedoms of persons and of the citizen," he said in the Kirundi language in a ceremony attended by several African heads of state.

Outgoing President Domitien Ndayizeye said this was "the most important day in Burundi's history."

His Frodebu party was defeated in local and parliamentary elections earlier this year by Mr Nkurunziza's Forces for the Defence of Democracy, before MPs elected the ex-rebel as president last week.

Pierre Nkurunziza

"We have won the battle," said Mr Ndayizeye (pictured above).

The BBC's Rob Walker in the capital, Bujumbura, says Mr Nkurunziza's journey to power has been an extraordinary one - from school teacher to rebel leader and now finally, to president.

He has said his first task will be to try and engage the last remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL) in peace talks.

"I hope he will bring back peace quickly and help us overcome poverty," said Fatuma Siniremera, a 56-year-old Nkurunziza supporter during a rally on Thursday.

But some Tutsis remain fearful of Hutu rule.

"I am very pessimistic about whether he will change anything," Dieudonne Hakizimana said.

The power-sharing deal agreed and now finally implemented is seen as a crucial success for the continent and one which could have wider benefits for the volatile Great Lakes region.

Our correspondent says Mr Nkurunziza takes control of a country which is virtually destroyed but which has huge expectations of his ruling party.

He says the new leader will need all the support he can get from the international community if he is now to deliver on the much-needed dividends of peace.

But the challenge ahead is not just physical.

Deep divisions from the civil war remain and many believe those will only be healed if the new government deals with the issue of justice for crimes committed by all sides.

On the eve of his inauguration, six mainly Tutsi parties said Mr Nkurunziza should be brought to justice for crimes they say he committed as a guerrilla leader during the civil war.

A Burundian court passed the death sentence on Mr Nkurunziza in 1998, but he was granted an amnesty in the peace accords.

No elected government has ever served out its term in Burundi.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Save the Children (UK) Report: Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in armed conflict

Save the Children's report at:

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/temp/scuk/cache/cmsattach/2698_GAAF%20report.pdf

[With thanks to Congo Girl's post DRC: 12,500 Girls members of armed groups, NGO report says]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

European cloth with African appeal

007 in Africa writes about Cloth and posts an image of fabric purchased from Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Congo (but made in Cote d'Ivoire or European countries) - and notes a little known fact:
Most African cloth is actually fabricated in Scandinavian countries with designs created by African stylists. So the cloth I bought on the market is most probably made in Europe rather than in Africa. European cloth with African appeal.
Congo Girl posts more textiles.

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Uganda to expel DR Congo rebels

Uganda has announced it will expel six rebels from Democratic Republic of Congo after the UN voiced its concern over their presence in the county.

Uganda's internal affairs minister said the men had been declared persona non grata and must leave by Thursday.

The six are part of a group the UN says planned to use Uganda to launch a rebel movement to seize power in DR Congo.

UN Security Council resolutions oblige Uganda to prevent its territory from being used by regional armed groups.

[Why is there not such a resolution for Sudan?]

Full story at BBC Aug 24, 2005.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Police probe Australian miner over alleged role in quelling Congo revolt - Forbes.com

Report at Forbes.com via Eric at Sudan: Passion of the Present, with thanks:

08.19.2005 SYDNEY (AFX) - Federal police are investigating claims an Australian mining company helped government forces put down an uprising in the Democratic Republic of Congo during which troops killed up to 100 people, officials said.

Human rights groups have alleged that Anvil Mining provided vehicles and other assistance to troops sent in last October to quell a rebellion in the village of Kilwa, 50 kilometers from one of the company's mines.

Armed rebels took over the southeastern town, leading the Perth-based Anvil to suspend operations at its copper and silver mine and evacuate staff.

The government flew in troops who took back control of Kilwa, apparently using vehicles from Anvil.

According to a UN report, up to 100 people died in the fighting.

Anvil has denied playing any role in the killing and said the vehicles used by the troops were commandeered by the military.

The Australian Federal Police told the national news agency AAP that it had opened an investigation into the case.

The company issued a statement Friday saying it had not yet been contacted by police but 'has no concerns should any investigation be undertaken'.

A Melbourne law firm representing several human rights groups who have accused Anvil of breaching international human right laws over the incident welcomed the police decision to investigate. (dm/br/dk)
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From Eric: these stories relate to the recent allegations against Anvil Mining; it looks like there%u2019s now an official investigation...

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1441149.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1441337.htm (program transcript)

http://finance.news.com.au/story/0,10166,16313902-31037,00.html, http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=52039, and http://seven.com.au/news/topstories/101281 (AAP story)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1441929.htm (Anvil 'has no concerns' about police investigation)

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/anvil-denies-link-to-congo-massacre/2005/08/19/1123958227561.html?oneclick=true (Anvil denies link to Congo massacre)

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Why Africa won't condemn Zimbabwe blitz

Excerpt from BBC report today:

Foreign ministers from the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.

Yet many of those other African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.

The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at all unusual.

From one end of Africa to the other, governments have set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them afterwards.

Genocide suspect Michel Bagaragaza flown to Hague, Netherlands

BBC reports today that a Rwandan accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 genocide has been transferred to the Netherlands. Full Story.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

DR Congo News Round-up from IRIN

DR Congo news round-up by Congo Girl - with thanks.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sudanese VP Dr John Garang DeMabior, 13 Others Die in Plane Crash

More news on the tragic death of Dr Garang at Sudan Watch: Sudan's first VP and former rebel leader killed.

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