DRC and Uganda update
Welcome reports that the humanitarian situation in Kantanga is improving should encourage a greater response from the International Community; many lives still hang in the balance. If the International Community procrastinate at this stage, this humanitarian crisis could threaten the stability of the DRC and could be used for further delays of the forthcoming elections. Further encouragement comes with the news of the landmark ruling of the successful prosecutions of nine Congolese as having used rape as a crime against humanity. However, this cause of hope must be tempered with the comments made by Pierre Akele Adua, President of the Military High Court in Kinshasa, who when asked, “What is the general picture of the justice system in the DRC?”, replied “I can describe it in one word: ineffective.”
In Ugnada, President Museveni has wasted no time in using arbitary measures to consolidate power. News of the pressuring workers who oppose Museveni throught the trade unions indicates that this term of his presidency looks like a continuation of unjust policies and practices which have characterised his administration in the past.
CENTRAL KATANGA SITUATION
IMPROVES, BUT MUCH REMAINS TO BE DONE
Several months after the onset of a crisis that displaced 150,000 people in central Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the humanitarian situation is beginning to improve. The UN World Food Program has begun airdrops of food to Dubie, promising to deliver 80 tons over the next several days, with additional airdrops planned for Mitwaba and Sampwe after April 10. This should begin to reduce mortality rates which, according to Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), are at 4.3 deaths per 10,000 people per day, more than four times the emergency threshold.
DRC WAR COMPENSATION TALKS
Negotiations between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) about billions of dollars in war compensation have been stalled by politics, a senior Ugandan official said on Tuesday. Both sides had hoped to start the talks shortly after a mid-December world court ruling that found Uganda liable to pay damages to the DRC but four months on they have not advanced beyond a preparatory stage, the official said. Ugandan Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem said his country's general elections in February and upcoming polls in the DRC had left officials in the two capital preoccupied and unable to set up meetings.
INTEREST ARTICLE - BBC PROFILE: KABILA AND HIS
The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman profiles Joseph Kabila, the man most likely to become the Democratic Republic of Congo's first democratically elected leader since independence in 1960, in a piece published in the Focus on Africa magazine.
More info at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4876668.stm
JOURNALIST AILING -TWO OTHER JOURNALISTS FREED AFTER WEEKS IN PRISON
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about newspaper publisher Patrice Booto, who has been in jail in the capital, Kinshasa, since November 2, 2005. Booto recently told a representative of Journaliste en Danger (JED), a Kinshasa-based press freedom organization, that he was suffering from several health problems and had not received adequate medical care in prison. Booto suffers from gastrointestinal problems and has not been allowed to see a physician, he told JED.
More info at: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N31279724.htm
SECURED FOR RAPE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN DRC
MONUC was pleased to learn about the verdict made by the Military Garrison Court of Mbandaka located in Songo Mboyo, sentencing seven military officers of the Armed Forces of the DR Congo (FARDC) to life in prison. The officers were charged of rape as a crime against humanity. With this decision, the court validated the Statue of Rome created by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which states that rape, if committed in the framework of massive attack against the civilian population, is considered a crime against humanity, punishable to a maximum penalty of life in prison in case the extreme severity of the crime is proven.
More info at: http://www.monuc.org/News.aspx?newsID=10650
INTEREST ARTICLE - REUTERS PROFILE: INTERVIEW WITH
PIERRE AKELE ADUA, PRESIDENT OF THE CONGOLESE MILITARY HIGH COURT
Like other government institutions that were neglected during years of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the justice system is in dire need of reform. Since 2002, the country's judicial officials have produced reports on ways to reform the justice system. However, these reforms have not been implemented because the government has been focussed on efforts to move beyond the turmoil of civil conflict. This transitional period is due to end with general elections later this year. According to Pierre Akele Adua, a professor of law at the University of Kinshasa who has worked on various United Nations-supported judicial-reform proposals, the country's transition to democracy can only work once the justice system is functioning in a fair and transparent way. Akele is also a judge and was appointed president of the DRC's highest military court in 2002. He spoke with IRIN on 12 April while in Nairobi attending a seminar. Here are excerpts:
AGAINST HUTU REBELS IN EASTERN DRC
Government troops and United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have launched an offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels. The operation in North Kivu province follows reports of increased looting in the area, and involves 750 Congolese soldiers and 100 from the UN force.
More info at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4905806.stm
VOTERS NOT ALLOWED TO COME BACK TO ZAMBIA
The refugees of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are returning to their country to vote in the forthcoming general elections will not be allowed to come back to Zambia, the Sunday Mail newspaper reported. Permanent Secretary of Home Ministry Peter Mumba was quoted as saying that under the law, the refugees who leave for their respective countries voluntarily before formal repatriation is sanctioned by the concerned parties can not be readmitted back as refugees. If some refugees from the DRC have made official requests to bepermitted to register as voters in their country, they will be given the permission on condition that they will not return with the same status of refugee, he said.
SCRAMBLE FOR DR CONGO'S MINERAL WEALTH
A scramble for minerals has brought foreign money into the Democratic Republic of Congo province of Katanga - but not everyone is benefiting, reports the BBC's Michael Buchanan from Lubumbashi. Lubumbashi has attracted the bulk of the foreign investment in DR Congo since a peace deal was signed in 2002 and it looks far better off than the capital, Kinshasa. The UN says there was almost $1bn of inward investment in 2004, the last year for which figures are available: an almost six-fold increase on the previous year. Much of the money has come to mineral-rich Katanga, and specifically to Lubumbashi.
More info at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4900734.stm
Monday said there was a plot by the State to purge workers who did not support President Yoweri Museveni in the just concluded elections. Party leaders told journalists at the DP head office in Kabusu that some government and private employees had told them that their jobs were in danger. The party Deputy Secretary General, Dr Lulume Bayiga, said State agents were reportedly identifying the 'wrong' workers pending dismissal. Lulume identified the ministry of Public service, security organs and the Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association among the organisations, which had started persecuting workers.
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200604120752.html
ESCORTING AID WORKERS IN THE NORTH
The Ugandan army has stopped providing military escorts to convoys delivering non-food aid to war-ravaged northern Uganda but relief workers say the decision is premature because the security situation in the region is still fragile. "There is no longer need to give escorts to whoever travels on the roads. We are moving from a bad situation to an improved security situation," army spokesman Lt Chris Magezi said by phone from Gulu, 380 km north of the capital, Kampala. "The situation is much better as most major roads are now motorable without any threat of ambushes."
More info at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200603271172.html
CAPTURES DRC REBELS IN KAMPALA
Several Congolese who were accused of illegal entry will be charged in Uganda, following their arrests in Kampala, an official has said. Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs Ruhakana Rugunda was quoted by the state-owned Sunday Vision as saying, "Uganda welcomes all neighbors, but if any of these neighbors is not law-abiding, the laws of Uganda will deal with him." Bwambale Kakolele, being declared persona non grata last August,was among the detained, who sneaked back into the country. The majority of the estimated 10 arrested rebel leaders were members of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC) rebels who were based in Ituri, a town near the Congo-Uganda border. Asked if they would be deported to Kinshasa, Rugunda said that deportation depends on "individual cases" as Uganda has no extradition treaty with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
DOWNPLAYS ROW OVER RWANDAN DIPLOMAT
Uganda has sought to defuse a diplomatic row with Rwanda, saying the arrest of a senior diplomat in Kampala was a personal matter that would not affect Rwanda's application to join the East African Community or relations between the two countries. A spokesman for Uganda President Yoweri Museveni told The EastAfrican that the arrest of John Ngarambe, the First Secretary at Rwanda's embassy in Kampala two weeks ago for alleged adultery, would not affect the "excellent" relations between the two countries. "The position of the president is that relations with Rwanda are excellent and this issue of the diplomat is a personal issue, about an individual, and not about the two countries," President Museveni's press secretary, Onapito Ekomoloit told The EastAfrican on Thursday. But Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Charles Murigande said relations were far from excellent. He said Mr Ngarambe "had definitely been framed" and accused Uganda of violating the envoy's diplomatic immunity.
3. REPORTS BY NGOs
INTERNATIONAL: Lent Campaign 2006: 40 Euro for Bukavu: Relief for
raped women is more than a drop in the ocean
For the last six weeks, Malteser International’s project manager Ursula Mesmer has reported on a weekly basis about her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo – for Malteser International’s Lent Campaign 2006 „40 Euro for Bukavu“. In view of the tremendous number of brutal attacks against girls and women, Malteser International provides medical and psychosocial assistance for the victims of violence in more than 300 health care centers. Ursula Mesmer’s latest report summarizes her experiences and personal impressions of the last weeks.
4. IN PARLIAMENT
PARLIAMENT IS CURRENTLY IN RECESS
5. LOOKING AHEAD
FIRST ROUND OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONSDate: expected to be 26th June – 2nd July