IRIN-West Africa Update 131, 98.1.26

IRIN-West Africa Update 131, 98.1.26

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

Tel: +225 21-73-54 Fax: +225 21-63-35 e-mail:

IRIN-WA Update 131 of Events in West Africa, (Saturday-Monday) 24-26 January 1998

LIBERIA: Liberians say farewell to ECOMOG

Liberians on Saturday held a parade in the capital Monrovia to bid farewell to ECOMOG peacekeepers scheduled to leave the country on 2 February, news organisations reported. Residents lined the route as more than 10,000 students, many waving banners with slogans like, "ECOMOG, we love you", "ECOMOG we are proud of you" marked the end of a seven-year west African peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

ECOMOG chief-of-staff, Brigadier General Abdul-One Mohammed, standing in for Commander Major General Timothy Shelpidi, called on Liberians to "put hands together and consolidate the peace we have put together". Shelpidi told IRIN on Monday that some ECOMOG contingents would remain in Liberia after 2 February for logistical reasons.

Malu speaks about rift with Taylor

Meanwhile, Shelpidi's predecessor in Liberia, General Victor Malu on Sunday said Liberian President Charles Taylor had wanted to use ECOMOG to settle scores, according to news reports. In an interview with the Nigerian daily, 'The Vanguard', Malu was quoted as saying Taylor "wanted me to place the ECOMOG troops at his beck and call so that he could use us to settle old scores with his rivals". Malu said he had refused to comply because he did not want to "dabble" in Liberian politics. Malu, appointed in 1996, was replaced this month by Shelpidi.

Newspaper editor flogged

A Liberian daily 'The National' on Friday said in a statement its managing editor Hassan Bility had been severely flogged by the police, PANA reported. Bility had allegedly been summoned by the police director Joe Tate to answer questions about an article last week on the "strained" relationship between ECOMOG and Liberian security forces. Tate denied the flogging. Local sources told IRIN that the severity of incident had possibly been exaggerated.

Liberian refugees leave Cote d'Ivoire

The UNHCR said on Monday that some 725 Liberian refugees had left the Ivorian city of Danane, near the Liberian border and returned to their home county of Monteserrado. In a statement, UNHCR said the refugees were each given a month's supply of WFP food rations. UNHCR provided kitchen utensils, plastic sheeting and blankets to the refugees who returned under a voluntary repatriation programme. It said an estimated 210,000 Liberian refugees still remain in Cote d'Ivoire.

First Ambassador presents his credentials in post-civil war

The new Egyptian Ambassador, Farouk Ghoneim on Thursday became the first foreign envoy to formally present his credentials since Taylor victory in the presidential election last July, AFP reported. Ghoneim said his government was committed to assisting the rehabilitation process in Liberia.

SIERRA LEONE: AFRC Chairman repeats Kamajor amnesty

Major Johnny Paul Koroma, chairman of Sierra Leone's ruling Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), reiterated an amnesty offer on Sunday to Kamajor militias if they lay down their weapons, AFP reported. "Any Kamajor who gives up their arms will not be harmed and will be amnestied," Koroma said. Fighting between Kamajors, who are loyal to ousted civilian president Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and AFRC troops in south and east Sierra Leone has intensified in recent weeks. Sierra Leone's second city Bo, the diamond-mining town of Tongo, and Zimmi on the border with Liberia have been particularly badly affected.

AFP reported on Monday that fighting had continued over the weekend on the main road between Bo and Moyamba district in south Sierra Leone. According to AFRC officials in Freetown, some 35 people had been killed in three hours of fighting on Sunday. AFP said authorities in local villages claimed Kamajors had ambushed a convoy of civilian vehicles escorted by the military.

Sources in Kenema confirmed to IRIN on Monday that the road between Bo and Freetown was difficult in parts. "There are often bodies on the road," the source said. Meanwhile, following a recent influx of villagers to Kenema, the situation in the town was returning to normal. "People are starting to go home, but there are still problems around Tongo," the source said. Last week aid agencies said civilians fleeing the fighting were unaccounted for and likely to be surviving in the bush.

Parliament will sit in Lungi

Some forty Sierra Leonean parliamentarians exiled in neighbouring countries said on Monday they would return to Sierra Leone and convene the national assembly for the first time since the May coup, media sources reported. The mps said parliament would be set up in the ECOMOG-controlled Lungi area in view of the security situation in the country.

Ousted civilian president Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has given his full backing to the mps, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, AFRC spokesman Allieu Kamara told AFP on Monday the move was "cosmetic".

NIGERIA: Political party mergers not allowed

The Nigerian government on Friday banned any mergers between political parties during the transition to civilian rule, Reuters reported. It quoted the chairman of the Transition Implementation Council, Mamman Nasir, as saying the government had registered five parties to participate in the elections. Thus, he said, it should remain "a five party transition programme until the end". Some politicians have warned that if the parties did not unite against the country's biggest party, the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), the country would be in danger of becoming a one-party state.

Papal visit scheduled for March

The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) on Friday announced that Pope John Paul II would make a two-day pilgrimage to Nigeria on 21 March, AFP reported. His itinerary will include a meeting with Abacha, and the beatification of a Nigerian priest. He will also meet with the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, the leader of Nigeria's Moslems. Christians and Moslems in Nigeria each account for around 45 percent of the population.

Ubani released on bail

The prominent Nigerian human rights activist, Chima Ubani, on Monday was released on bail by a Lagos court, news organsiations reported. Ubani, Secretary General of the Democratic Alternatives (DA) movement had been charged with "incitement against the person" of Abacha and the distribution of seditious audio tapes and conspiracy. He was committed to trial on March 11.

Crude oil found in Lagos

Crude oil which started leaking from a damaged Mobil Oil pipeline off the Nigerian coast has reached beaches near the Lagos at the weekend, according to news reports. Mobil, quoted by AFP, said that the "light accumulation" of crude oil had formed a sheen on beaches, 8 km west of Lagos, Nigeria's economic capital. Managing Director Paul Caldwell said the company would ensure minimium disruption for any clean-up operations. Last week the company offered compensation and apologised for the spill which mainly affected the coast near the Pennington River estuary.


Amnesty International said on Monday the government of Equatorial Guinea had rounded up at least a dozen people following an armed attack last week by separatists in the island of Bioko. "They are feared to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment, which are routine in Equatorial Guinea," an Amnesty statement said. "All the detainees are Bubi, the ethnic group native to Bioko Island."

It said those held included a Catholic priest, Father Eduardo Losoa, a teacher Victor Buyaban and his wife, a member of parliament, Marcelo Lohoso, and Cristino Meda Sericha, who until recently was director of the prime minister's office.

The arrests followed attacks on military barracks in Luba, Moka and Baho Grande in the early hours of 21 January in which eight soldiers and a civilian were reported killed. The government accused the Movimiento para la Autodeterminacion de la Isla de Bioko (MAIB), a Bubi politicial party seeking self-determination for Bioko. The incident marked the first armed action in Bioko. Amnesty said since Equatorial Guinea's independence from Spain in 1968 "many Bubi people had been killed or arrested for expressing their desire to be independent."

BURKINA FASO: President announces AIDS fund

President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso at the weekend said the government was establishing a special fund with World Bank backing to help AIDS victims, AFP reported. Launching a new anti-AIDS drive, Compaore said that FFr 15 million had already been allocated to start the fund and he appealed for further financing from the private sector. Over the next six months, he said, the government will promote an AIDS awareness campaign aimed mainly at young people aged 15 to 25.

TOGO: Prime minister warns striking students

With no immediate end in sight to a strike by students at Togo's University of Benin on Monday, Prime Minister Kwassi Klutse has warned students they could lose the academic year, Reuters reported. The strike started last Wednesday to protest the way riot police broke up a demonstration over academic grants.

GHANA: Former president dies

Ghana's former president 1979 to 1981, Hilla Limann, died on Friday, Ghanaian radio reported over the weekend. Limann was overthrown by Ghana's current Head of State Flight Lieutenant Gerry Rawlings in a military coup. Limann had been suffering from heart problems for several months.

Abidjan, 26 January 1998 19:30 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: 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: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to . Mailing list: irin-wa-updates]

Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 19:35:29 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 131, 98.1.26 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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