DRC and Uganda update
The reports released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty catalogue devastating evidence of the plight of Congo’s children. Abused, accused of being witch children, raped and coerced into militia gangs, children in the DRC surely have the worst fortunes in the world. Urgent action is needed prior to the delayed election to stop these grave abuses and a long-term strategy, supported by the international community must be a key priority of the elected Government. The UN appear to be investing heavily in the DRC and the extra troops promised this week by Kofi Annan are much needed. Furthermore, trouble in the East continues to force thousands from their homes and MSF reports of severe malnutrition cause grave concern, which must be translated into action if anything is to be done.
Notwithstanding the unacceptable conduct of President Musevenni in the Presidential Elections, including indicting his opponent, Besigye, on various charges, the close decision (4-3) of the Supreme Court to dismiss an appeal to nullify the result was probably the correct decision based on the grounds of the appeal application. The opportunity to have a free and fair election has eluded the people of Uganda, yet again. Worsening relations between Uganda and Rwanda are cause for concern as diplomacy breaks down amidst charges of the Rwandan ambassador. All this takes place at at time when the movements of the LRA are unclear.
DRC ELECTIONS PUSHED BACK
Electoral Commission spokesperson Marie-Rose Kambere said the DRC needs more time to process candidate applications after granting a 10-day extension for such presidential and parliamentary filings on Thursday. Only about 400 people had paid the $250 fee to contest the 500-seat Parliament by then, according to Electoral Commission officials. About 30 presidential hopefuls have registered. "The 10-day delay for the deposit of presidential dossiers will impact the electoral calendar and delay the elections from the current date of June 18," Kambere said.UN WARNS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN DRC RISKS PEACE
A senior U.N. official says governments are not living up to promises of help for the Democratic Republic of Congo's humanitarian crisis. He warns the stability of any government that emerges from upcoming elections in the DRC will depend on sustained international support.
The United Nations says the daily deaths, the daily rapes, the daily tragedies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are worse than anywhere else on earth. But U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain says this daily suffering does not occur in front of the cameras. It occurs in the bush and so it is overlooked.
"I am living in a country which has, on the average, 1,200 people a day who die from every known disease, including the bubonic plague, sleeping sickness, ebola, hemorrhagic fever, malaria," he said. "And I just wish there was at least a proportion of the attention that is being given to the concern for avian flu is given to the people who are dying of these less trendy diseases."
More info at: http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-03-29-voa48.cfm
THOUSANDS DISPLACED BY FIGHTING ARRIVE AT LAKE ALBERT, NORTH-EASTERN CONGO
Thousands of Congolese
civilians in the northeastern district of Ituri arrived on Thursday
at the port town of Kasenyi on Lake Albert, on the border with
Uganda, after they fled fighting between the national army and
militia groups, a local official said. However, many of the
displaced who had arrived at Kasenyi have already left and returned
home, the chief of Bahema Sud Collective, Deogratias Rusoke, said.
The civilians were displaced following fighting near their homes in
Tchomia, in the south of Ituri. Tchomia is 7 km north of Kasenyi and
62 km east of Bunia, the main town in the district. "There were
6,000 [people] here yesterday who came from Tchomia," Rusoke said.
"Almost 5,000 have already returned to Tchomia as it is again calm
The local Catholic Church wants the United Nations to set up an International Criminal Court for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The request, signed by Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo of Kisangani, president of the country's Catholic bishops' conference, was presented to the UN secretary general Kofi Annan when he visited Kinshasa March 21-23. The Congolese Catholic news agency DIA reports that the church wants the special court to try perpetrators of DR Congo's just-ended civil war. Archbishop Monsengwo said every person must respond to the law for his or her actions, commending the establishment of the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200603310349.html
UN TO SHIFT MORE TROOPS TO CONGO BEFORE ELECTION
Hundreds of U.N.peacekeepers will be moved from Burundi to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help ensure stability as Congo prepares for its first democratic election in more than 40 years, the United Nations announced on Friday. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a letter to the Security Council he would transfer a full infantry battalion, a military hospital and as many as 50 military observers to Congo for the remainder of this year.
A battalion typically has about 600 to 800 soldiers.
More info at: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N31279724.htm
US EVANGELIST ACCUSED OF TERRORISM IS DEPORTED
Uganda deported an American evangelist who was charged with terrorism after detectives found assault rifles hidden in his bedroom just days before last month's election, the country's police chief said on Tuesday. Uganda's Inspector-General of Police, Major-General Kale Kayihura, said the government had dropped the charges against Peter Waldron, 59, who had claimed close links to President Yoweri Museveni's family. "We are not saying the merits of the case were not there. They were. There was no dispute that he was found with guns," Kayihura told Reuters by telephone. The US Embassy declined to comment.
More info at: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L28461202.htm
STOP PARTISAN REMARKS, BISHOP TELLS MUSEVENI
The Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, has decried President Yoweri Museveni's statement that he would reward only people who voted the NRM during last month's elections. Nzerebende said such a statement can cause political unrest in the country. "Most of the wars in this country emerge after elections. Now that I hear statements from well placed people which don't promise equity, I am worried of what is likely to happen," he said.
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200603271172.html
US $2BN POOLED TO BOOST PEACE IN GREAT LAKES REGION
Great Lakes Region (GLR) member states, including Uganda, are to spend about US$2b for five years on projects intended to bring harmony and a new zone of peace and prosperity. Budget experts from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, DRC, the Republic of Congo, Zambia and representatives from the United Nations and African Union are meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kampala, to aggregate budgets of various projects and programmes to be implemented.
More info at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/489724
ELECTORAL COMMISSION CONCEDES ERRORS IN FINAL VOTE COUNTING
The Electoral Commission yesterday admitted to making some errors in tallying the final results of the February 23 presidential elections. The electoral body acknowledged it erroneously omitted some 962 votes cast in favour of Dr Kizza Besigye in the election. EC however said the omitted votes, representing 0.013% of the total vote, could not change the winning candidate. An affidavit sworn by Mr Joshua Wamala, the head of electoral management at the EC says, "There were in fact some errors in data entry at the time of tallying the sum total of which amounted to a loss of 962 votes of the petitioner which is 0.013% of the total valid votes cast."
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200603290782.html
MAKERERE STUDENT TORTURED OVER 'SPYING' FOR RWANDA
Mr. Ronald Kasekende, a
student of Urban Planning at Makerere University, has been under
military detention since last October. His detention follows his
arrest on allegations of selling intelligence information to
Rwanda. Sources told Daily Monitor that Kasekende, who was arrested
on October 3rd by the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), has been
under constant torture, mainly through beatings.
AID AGENCIES DEMAND U.N.
ACTION ON UGANDA WAR
The U.N. Security Council must act to end suffering brought by two decades of war in northern Uganda, a coalition of local and foreign aid agencies said on Thursday as U.N. aid chief Jan Egeland flew into the country. Egeland will hold talks with government officials before visiting camps in the north that are home to more than 1.6 million people sheltering from fighting between troops and rebels from the cult-like Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
He has called the war one of the world's most neglected humanitarian disasters. Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) demanded the Security Council add its voice to their call for peace talks to end the violence.
More info at: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29267922.htm
EGELAND CALLS FOR LRA TALKS
THE UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, has said the military approach alone cannot end the war that has ravaged northern Uganda for the last 20 years. "The LRA rebels have been weakened but even the small groups can cause enormous damage. I believe the military approach alone cannot work. We need to find ways of reaching these people and arrive at an agreement for them to surrender," he said.
Egeland has been in northern Uganda for an on-spot assessment of the humanitarian situation in the displaced persons camps. Egeland, who is also the emergency relief coordinator, met government officials and President Yoweri Museveni.
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200604031194.html
KIGALI PROTESTS DIPLOMAT'S ARREST
Rwanda has written to Uganda protesting bitterly against the arrest of its diplomat Mr John Ngarambe.
Ngarambe, Kigali's First Secretary to Kampala, was arrested Saturday evening together with his companion Ms Joyce Rugunda in Lake Victoria Windsor Hotel, Entebbe. His captors accused him of having a love affair with Joyce, a married lady. In the protest note (Note Verbale) sent to Uganda's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Rwanda says the arrest is "totally unacceptable." Rwanda's ambassador in Kampala Mr Ignatius Kamali Karegesa told Daily Monitor yesterday that the incident was a "frame up (meant) to scandalize both him and the Rwandan government."
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200604030987.html
SUPREME COURT REJECTS POLL PROTEST
Uganda's Supreme Court has narrowly rejected a challenge to presidential election results brought by opposition leader Kizza Besigye. The court ruled by a four-three majority that there was no evidence that the results had been substantially affected by irregularities. The judges found there had been problems but not enough to challenge President Yoweri Museveni's victory. On Tuesday, Dr Besigye denied treason charges at the start of his trial. He says the charges were political and designed to distract him from February's elections. Last month, he was cleared of a rape charge.
3. REPORTS BY NGOs
DRCAMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “Alarming resurgence in recruitment of children in North-Kivu”
Amnesty International today revealed that large numbers of children, some at least as young as twelve, are once again being recruited to serve as fighters in the conflict province of North-Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following a human rights mission to that country. "For several weeks, anti-government forces loyal to dissident general Laurent Nkunda have been recruiting children, often by force, in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories of North-Kivu," said Véronique Aubert, an Amnesty International researcher who has just returned from the region. The AI delegation was in the DRC for the month of March.
ALARMING RATE OF MALNUTRITION AMONG DISPLACED IN KATANGA SAY MSF
In the past week, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has conducted nutritional surveys in three camps for displaced Congolese around the town of Dubie, near Lake Mweru, in Katanga province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The results are staggering, with the prevalence of global malnutrition at 19.2 percent and of severe acute malnutrition at 5 percent. Global malnutrition rates of 10-15 percent indicate a food security crisis.
HRW: “What Future? Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo”
The 72-page report, “What Future? Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” documents how security officials and other adults routinely abuse the country’s street children. In the past 10 years, armed conflict, HIV/AIDS, prohibitive education fees, and even accusations of sorcery have led to a doubling of the number of street children. With no secure access to shelter, food or other basic needs, these children live in insecurity and fear. Instead of providing street children with protection, police and soldiers routinely use physical violence and threats of arrest to steal from these children. Street children also face physical and sexual abuse at the hands of adults and older youth, who take advantage of their vulnerable status. Rape of both girls and boys is pervasive. “As a first step, the Congolese government must protect street children during the election period. U.N. agencies in Congo should redouble their efforts to prevent abuse,” said Tony Tate, Africa children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Congolese authorities should use this opportunity to start addressing the abuses committed against children.”