UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
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IRIN-WA Update 185 of Events in West Africa, (Friday) 10 April 1998
LIBERIA: Ministry to pursue Dokie case
The Justice Ministry Thursday pledged to pursue the Dokie murder case, Star Radio reported. Solicitor General Theophilus Gould said the two former bodyguards of President Charles Taylor who were acquitted of the murder of opposition politician Samuel Dokie and three family members were tried in the absence of other suspects. Five of these were wanted by the court and were being sought with the help of Ivorian security. The government was committed to ensuring the killers of Dokie and the others were brought to justice, Gould said.
Meanwhile, a consortium of local human rights NGOs claimed the Dokie murder trial was a mockery of justice, Star Radio also reported. According to the National Human Rights Centre of Liberia (NHRCL), the government was not sincere in prosecuting the case. NHRCL noted that Benjamin Yeaten, the suspended director of Special Service Security, who ordered the Dokies' arrest, remained a free man. But Gould denied Yeaten was linked to the case. NHRCL called on Taylor to encourage the Ivorian authorities to extradite the five suspects.
Johnson flies to the US for treatment
Former faction leader and minister Roosevelt Johnson Thursday left for medical treatment in the United States at the Liberian government's expense, Reuters reported, quoting witnesses. Johnson suffered a stroke recently, the report said. Taylor removed Johnson from his post as Rural Development Minister on 31 March and appointed him ambassador to India. Johnson told Reuters he would not comment on this new position until he had received treatment.
Pavarotti plans benefit concert
World-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti announced on Thursday that he would join Celine Dion, Jon Bon Jovi, the Spice Girls and other stars in a June benefit concert for a children's charity in Liberia, Reuters reported. The third annual "Pavarotti & Friends" concert will be held in Pavarotti's hometown, Modena, in Italy on 9 June.
Proceeds from the concert and subsequent album and video sales will benefit the international NGO War Child, specifically supporting the Pavarotti & Friends Children's Village in Liberia. War Child previously funded the construction of the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, Bosnia. Past Pavarotti & Friends concerts have raised over US$ seven million.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed the tenor UN Special Envoy for Peace earlier this year and has lent his support to the Liberian Children's Fund project, according to Reuters.
WEST AFRICA: CFA-euro peg beneficial, says Gabon
The Gabonese government Wednesday said France's switch to the euro would have medium-term benefits and no immediate adverse consequences for West Africa, PANA news agency reported. A report from the Gabonese Finance Ministry made the claims ahead of Friday's crucial CFA Finance Ministers' meeting in Libreville. According to the Gabonese report, the exports and external payments of the 15 member countries of the African Financial Community (CFA) stand to benefit from a fixed peg to the European currency. This is because the euro is expected to be more stable than the US dollar, the ministry added.
Amidst continued rumours of another devaluation of the CFA franc, the Gabonese report said the French Treasury would continue to guarantee the fixed rate between the CFA franc and the euro once France switches to the single European currency on 1 January 1999. For the first time ever, the CFA franc was devalued by 50 per cent in January 1994. Since December 1993, the price competitiveness of the CFA zone as a whole had improved by 33 per cent, the report noted. The Gabonese Ministry added that the countries in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the Central African Economic Community (CEAC) had been enjoying growth rates of four to five per cent these past three years, PANA said.
AFP reported that, as he opened Friday's Finance ministers' meeting in Libreville, French Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn said: "Contrary to what may have been said, there is nothing to warrant any change" in the current conversion rate between the French and the CFA francs. Earlier this week, former French Prime Minister Pierre Messmer had claimed another CFA devaluation was inevitable.
More qualify for debt relief
Mali and Guinea-Bissau are likely to benefit from a new debt relief programme and Togo, Mauritania and Chad might well be next, Reuters reported Thursday, quoting a World Bank official. Within the next two months, Mali and Guinea-Bissau could win between US$ 800 million to 850 million in debt relief between them under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The agency quoted a French Finance Ministry official as saying the two countries were "expected to qualify soon".
HIPC is jointly managed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Paris Club of official creditors. It provides for debt relief of up to, and sometimes exceeding, 80 per cent to governments committed to economic reform.
Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire were the latest beneficiaries last month. HIPC has already provided close to US$ six billion in debt relief to African and Latin American countries.
SENEGAL: Arms, drugs fund rebels, says government
Senegal's government Thursday claimed Casamance separatist rebels lived on revenue from arms trafficking, drugs and armed robberies, Reuters reported. Launching a booklet entitled "The Truth about Casamance", the communication minister and government spokesman, Serigne Diop, accused the Mouvement des Forces Democratiques de Casamance (MFDC) of terrorising civilians in the southern province of Casamance. The booklet said 281 civilians and 233 soldiers had been killed in the conflict since 1982. It gave no figures for rebel casualties.
The MFDC took up arms in 1982, demanding independence and accusing the Dakar government of neglecting the province. The booklet aims to refute MFDC arguments for independence. According to Reuters, Diop said the UN and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) charters did not support such calls for independence.
Seven civilians killed in Casamance attack
Meanwhile, seven civilians were killed and two policemen injured in an attack on Thursday night by suspected MFDC rebels in the Casamance village of Samine, AFP reported, quoting an official source. The attack on a police post in Samine, 70 km east of the regional capital, Ziguinchor, was repelled but seven civilians were killed and several houses looted, the report said.
Fighting has decreased since the government's large-scale offensive against rebel bases last year, but attacks against villages and travellers as well as the use of land mines has increased, AFP reported, adding it was not clear who was responsible.
CHAD: World Bank asked to back oil project
Chad has asked the World Bank to back plans to produce oil early in the next century, Reuters reported Thursday. Documents on the plan to produce oil in the south have been sent to the Bank, the agency quoted Oil Minister Saleh Kebzabo as saying. Chad recently joined the International Financial Corporation (IFC), a World Bank affiliate promoting private sector projects. Kebzabo added that oil production would enable Chad to cut poverty significantly. He pledged oil revenues would be managed "in the greatest transparency" and fund schools, hospitals, farming, transport and communications.
Western oil companies expect to begin commercial exploitation of an estimated 900 million barrels in southern Chad by 2001, after completion of an export pipeline to the coast of Cameroon. Rebels, some opposition politicians and environmentalists are hostile to the plan.
Abidjan, 10 April 1998, 15:50 gmt
[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN West Africa, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN-WA Tel: +225 21 73 66 Fax: +225 21 63 35 e-mail: email@example.com for more information or subscription. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this report, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the Web at: http://www.reliefweb.int/emergenc or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . Mailing list: irin-wa-updates]
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 15:52:56 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <email@example.com> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 185, 98.4.10 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980410155030.13738Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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