UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN-WA Update 121 of Events in West Africa, (Saturday-Monday) 10-12 January 1998
[As a supplement to its weekly round-ups of main events in West Africa, IRIN-WA will produce a daily synopsis of reports on the region. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original source.]
SIERRA LEONE: Conakry peace accords in balance
Press statements from Sierra Leone's ruling Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) at the weekend intensified the debate in Sierra Leone over whether the Conakry peace accords would be implemented, sources in Freetown told IRIN on Monday. The Sierra Leone peace deal, which calls for a return to civilian rule in April 1998, was signed by all parties to the conflict last October. Since then, however, all major benchmarks for implementing the peace plan have been missed. These include the resumption of humanitarian assistance in mid-November and demobilisation at the beginning of December.
"The accords are in the balance," a humanitarian source said. "I think there will be a lot of brinkmanship in the run-up to April."
Last week, AFRC Chairman Major Johnny Paul Koroma said he doubted the Conakry timetable could be implemented on time. But on Friday, AFRC Secretary-General Colonel Abdul Karim Sesay told reporters the AFRC was still committed to implementing the peace plan "within the stipulated time-frame". Sesay, however, called for additional measures to put the peace process back on track. These were a restructuring of the AFRC's army rather than its disarmament, an immediate cessation of hostilities with Kamajor militia loyal to ousted president Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and the relocation of the UN Special Representative to Sierra Leone from Conakry to Freetown.
Sesay also called for an immediate summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss the crisis. This summit should consider the release of Foday Sankoh, leader of the former rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), now allied to the AFRC. He also requested it review the dominant role of Nigeria in ECOMOG.
United Kingdom appoints special representative on Sierra Leone
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook appointed John Flynn as his Special Representative on Sierra Leone on Friday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told IRIN. A statement released by Cook said this appointment demonstrated British determination to see the restoration of the legitimate government of President Kabbah.
NIGER: Former premier rejects charges of militia creation
Niger's former premier, Hama Amadou, at the weekend rejected government charges that he had formed a paramilitary organisation, according to Gabon radio. Amadou, who was detained 2 January and released on bail last week, described his arrest as a form of "harassment" because he belonged to the opposition Mouvement National pour la Societe de Developpement (MNSD). The government was also seeking to divert the public from "real" issues, he added.
Addressing an opposition rally in the capital, Niamey, on Sunday, Amadou demanded fresh elections, Reuters reported. He cited the "illegitimacy" of the government of President Ibrahim Mainassara Bare, who seized power in a military coup in January 1996 and won presidential elections six months later. The rally, held to mark the anniversary of a demonstration broken up by police a year ago, was attended by about 4,000 people.
Toubou and Tuareg rebels free six hostages
Nigerien defence minister Yahaya Tunkara on Sunday announced the release of three policemen and three republican guards held by Toubou and Tuareg rebels since October, AFP reported. Their release followed a new peace accord last November between the authorities and the rebel groups in November. The six hostages were held by the Union des Forces Armees du Sahara (FARS) and the Union des Forces de la Resistance Armee (UFRA). Until Sunday, the Niger government had denied the kidnappings.
LIBERIA: Cabinet reshuffle
President Charles Taylor of Liberia at the weekend announced the first cabinet reshuffle since the country's post-war elections last July, news organisations reported on Monday. Among key changes were the appointment of Amelia Ward to replace his sister-in-law, Sandra Howard, as minister of planning and economic affairs. Howard was named chairwoman of the Economic Commission.
Larmin Kawai, a leading member of the opposition Liberian People's Party (LPP), replaced Raleigh Seekie as transport minister. Seekie was transferred to the Office of General Auditing.
In addition, Taylor named Luseni Kaba minister of commerce to replace Bangalee Fofana, who died two weeks ago of heart failure. Charles Sirleaf, a career banker with Citibank in London, was offered the post of president of the National Housing and Savings Bank. Sirleaf is the son of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, whose Unity Party came a distant second to Taylor's National Patriotic Party (NPP) in the elections.
NIGERIA: Government to probe foreign collusion in coup plot
Nigerian foreign minister Chief Tom Ikimi has reiterated to Western diplomats that the authorities are investigating claims of foreign involvement in last month's alleged plot to overthrow the government of General Sani Abacha, news reports said Monday.
Following a briefing to African diplomats, Nigerian radio said he had told Western diplomats the government was looking into the "collusion of some diplomatic missions in Nigeria". He said, however, further details would only be disclosed once the investigation was completed.
The envoys were also shown video footage of alleged coup plotters "confessing and begging" Abacha's forgiveness. "The plot was hatched several months back and different dates were proposed for its execution but had to be put off for several reasons before 21st December was set as a final date to strike," the radio quoted Ikimi as saying. "If indeed the wicked plans of the coup plotters had succeeded, the nation would have suffered an unprecedented spectacle of bloodshed and widespread chaos."
GUINEA: Dual nationality candidates barred
The Guinean government announced at the weekend that politicians holding dual nationality will be barred from contesting in elections, AFP reported. In a dispatch quoting the government newspaper, 'Horoya', it said the Supreme Court had upheld a parliamentary motion last November which fobids anyone holding dual nationality running for electoral office.
It described the move as controversial because many opposition politicians, especially those who had spent long years in exile, are also citizens of France or neighbouring West African nations. With presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled towards the end of the year, Mamadou Ba, leader of the Union pour la Nouvelle Republique (UNR) and president of the Coordination de l'Opposition Democratique (CODEM), told AFP he viewed the move as "another step towards civil war".
SENEGAL: Suspected rebels kill five villagers
Suspected separatists of the Mouvement des Forces Democratiques de Casamance (MFDC) killed five villagers and wounded seven others in a raid last Thursday, news organisations reported. The gunmen struck in Saillote, a village 50 km southeast of the Casamance capital, Ziguinchor. Meanwhile, AFP reported that two separatists were killed on Friday by the Senegalese army as they attempted to attack another town in the province which has been troubled since the MFDC took up arms in 1982.
Abidjan, 12 January 1998, 19:45 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com . Mailing list: irin-wa-updates]
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 19:50:24 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 121, 98.1.12 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980112194741.14202Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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