Boutros-Ghali tries to muster African force for Rwanda

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The Independent Online
AS HEAVY fighting continued in the Rwandan capital of Kigali yesterday, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was trying to put together a UN force made up of African nations to reinforce the 270-strong peace-keeping mission in the central African country.

UN-brokered peace talks between the government forces and the Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the Rwanda Patriotic Front, were due to reopen yesterday, but the RPF refuses to take part until the UN withdraws its mediator, Jacques Roger Booh-Booh of Cameroon. The RPF accuses Mr Booh-Booh of bias against its members.

Such action does not bode well for the formation of an all-African intervention force. Mr Boutros-Ghali has asked all African heads of state to reply immediately if they are willing to contribute troops, and if enough states do so he will ask the UN Security Council to authorise the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to set up the force. No Western countries have offered troops.

Chapter Eight of the UN Charter calls on regional organisations, such as the OAU, to try and resolve regional disputes before they reach the Security Council.

The all-African force would be paid for by the UN in the normal way - according to a scale of assessments on the most prosperous nations, with 50 per cent of the bill being charged to the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, the five permanent members of the Security Council. There is a precedent for such a force in Liberia, where Nigeria organised a contingent of troops from West African nations.

In Kigali, UN officers reported an exchange of heavy mortar bombardments between the government and rebel forces. 'The firing is intensive and continuous,' said Abdul Kabia, executive director of Unamir, the UN assistance mission in Rwanda. The RPF was firing mortars from hills surrounding the capital, and one report suggested the rebels could take the city any time they wanted.

In Arusha, in northern Tanzania, representatives of Rwanda's interim government waited for rebel RPF delegates to arrive to resume peace talks brokered by the UN and Tanzania. Mr Booh-Booh said he had received assurances the rebels would come to the table, but the RPF said its representatives would not negotiate.