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IRIN-CEA Update No. 648 - Tuesday 13 April 1999

[Niger] A young girl, identified as slaves by Timidria, Niger's leading 
anti-slavery organisation, watch silently at a meeting organised to liberate 7000 slaves, on 5th March, in In Ates in far west Niger, as their masters spoke out stating slavery does IRIN/ G. Cranston
Niger, the poorest country in the world according to the UN
CONTENTS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN urges political dialogue RWANDA: Britain pledges 55 million pounds BURUNDI: Celebrations to mark end of sanction
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN urges political dialogue The UN Security Council has called for an immediate halt to the fighting in the DRC. In a resolution adopted on Friday, it urged an all-inclusive political dialogue leading to national reconciliation and free and fair elections. The resolution expressed the Council's willingness to consider active UN involvement in implementing a ceasefire agreement. Urging respect for human rights in the country, the Council also called for an international investigation into allegations of massacres in the country. It said there should be safe and unhindered access to provide humanitarian assistance where necessary. The Council recommended holding a conference on the Great Lakes region, under the auspices of the UN and OAU. A commentary on DRC state television on Sunday welcomed the resolution, saying it was "better late than never". Government unable to confirm rebel claims The DRC government on Tuesday said it had no confirmation that the Katangese towns of Kakuyu and Lubefa, some 300 km from Mbuju Mayi, were under rebel control. Filip Tambwe of the information ministry told IRIN the front had been stabilised and there was "no change" in the position of the government's allies, notably Zimbabwe and Angola. However, an AFP journalist who visited Kakuyu on Monday said the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) appeared to have set up a headquarters there. Regarding discussions between the government and rebels, Tambwe said any talks would take place during the proposed national debate. The debate would encompass all sides in the DRC, and government activity was now focused on this, he added. He could not confirm reports that President Laurent-Desire Kabila, during a recent visit to Tanzania, had sought the services of ex-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere as mediator in talks with the RCD, but added it "would not be surprising". Regional analysts on Tuesday told IRIN a "stalemate" had been reached in the DRC conflict which could pave the way to more constructive ceasefire negotiations. For full story, see IRIN-English item no.598. RWANDA: Britain pledges 55 million pounds Britain has signed an agreement to provide Rwanda with a total of 55 million pounds (about US $70 million) worth of aid. Rwandan radio said the accord was signed on Monday by visiting British Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short and Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame. According to the Rwanda News Agency, 50 million pounds will help support the country's budget over a 10 year period, and another five million goes to the Rwanda Revenue Authority. "We hope that the signing of this protocol will seal our determination to extend it to other areas of cooperation," Kagame was quoted as saying. The assistance comes after the World Bank last month approved a US $75 million loan to support Rwanda's economic reforms, RNA noted. Bizimungu to visit Burundi Burundi's First Vice-President Frederic Bavuginyunvira held talks with Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema in Kigali on Monday on ways of boosting cooperation between the two countries, Rwandan radio reported. They focused on easing travel procedures and education issues. Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu is due to visit Burundi on Thursday at the request of his counterpart there, Major Pierre Buyoya. Burundi's Net Press news agency said this was the first visit by a foreign head of state since the regional embargo was lifted in January. Bizimungu's visit was aimed at "renormalising" relations between the two countries, it added, noting that Rwanda had helped Burundi during the sanctions regime. BURUNDI: Celebrations to mark end of sanction A week of festivities has been launched in Bujumbura to celebrate the ending of sanctions against Burundi, the BBC reported on Tuesday. Burundian entertainers and athletes living abroad have been invited to the celebrations. The festivities come amid renewed peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania. ANNOUNCEMENT: OCHA MEETING You are cordially invited to attend the Weekly Great Lakes Information Exchange Forum. The meeting, to be held 14 April, will be attended by representatives of each of the OCHA Field Offices throughout the region (Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Angola), as well as members of OCHA HQ in New York and Geneva. This meeting will provide a rare opportunity for the Nairobi humanitarian community to meet with and discuss issues of common concern with OCHA field and HQ representatives. The meeting will commence at 10am and will be held at the OCHA Gigiri compound.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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