- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003


U.N. experts to start probe of Ituri massacre

KINSHASA A team of experts from the United Nations began a weeklong investigation yesterday into a massacre in Congo's Ituri region, where up to a thousand civilians were initially reported to have been killed.

Last week, the U.N. mission here said a massacre had taken place in the northeastern region on April 3, and between 150 and 300 ethnic Hema people in 15 villages were killed in a three-hour bloodletting by their enemies, the Lendu.

The 15-member U.N. team left Kinshasa for Bunia, the main town in Ituri, near the border with Uganda, shortly after noon yesterday. It was made up of members of the U.N. mission in the Congo and the U.N. refugee agency's Kinshasa office, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva.


Lack of funds delays work for October vote

MONROVIA The national election commission postponed this week voter registration for presidential and legislative elections in October, citing insufficient funds, lack of election materials and logistical problems.

Voter registration was to have begun Tuesday, but Paul Guah, head of the election commission, was quoted in newspapers as telling representatives of political parties he had so far disbursed only $590,000 of the $8.3 million budgeted for the Oct. 14 presidential election.

President Charles Taylor has insisted the elections will go ahead as planned "despite continuing fighting around the country" by rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).


Lawmakers want to ban main Hutu political party

KIGALI Parliament called this week for the country's main Hutu political party to be disbanded, accusing it of fomenting ethnic divisions, national radio reported on Tuesday.

It is up to the government whether to act on parliament's recommendation. Rwanda is scheduled to hold presidential and legislative elections in the second half of this year, the first major balloting since the genocide of 1994.

Weekly notes …

Uganda asked a key U.N. refugee official to leave the country after he opposed a government plan to relocate thousands of Sudanese refugees, fearing it would put them in danger, U.N. officials say. Saidy Saihou, country representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, objected to moving over 16,000 Sudanese to camps near where the rebel Lord's Resistance Army is fighting government forces. UNHCR spokeswoman Bushra Malik said the government asked Mr. Saihou to leave the country for opposing its position. … Congo President Joseph Kabila this week pardoned rebels who started a war in the country more than four years ago, and must now share power under a peace deal. But Information Minister Kikaya Bin Karubi told Reuters that the amnesty does not cover war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

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