IRIN-West Africa Update 154, 98.2.26

IRIN-West Africa Update 154, 98.2.26

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 154 of Events in West Africa, (Thursday) 26 February 1998

SIERRA LEONE: AFRC group surrenders

Some 200 supporters of Sierra Leone's ousted Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) have surrendered to West African ECOMOG peacekeepers in the northwest Kambia district, AFP reported on Thursday. A Guinean officer of the ECOMOG contingent, Lieutenant Yeka Camilo said a large amount of arms and ammunition had been seized. Camilo warned other AFRC personnel still at large in the region to surrender or face "house-to-house searches" by ECOMOG forces.

Although ECOMOG consolidated its control of the capital Freetown to the point where on Thursday it relaxed the nightlong curfew from midnight to dawn, further fighting was reported by news organisations in the countryside.

AFP said that the AFRC and its allies, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), had continued a "campaign of terror" in the northern Tonkolili district. It quoted a Methodist pastor saying fighters had attacked Mathoi, near the town of Makeni, 140 km northeast of Freetown in recent days, and "indiscriminately" set homes on fire. The fighters looted the main hospital in Masanga, a village close to Mathoi, and threatened doctors and nurses. A nurse said that about "50 leprosy and tuberculosis patients had fled into the bush".

In other skirmishes, AFP also reported that militiamen loyal to elected President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, had burnt down the former RUF stronghold at Camp Lion in the Moyamba district in eastern Sierra Leone.

Fighters leave Bo in ruins

As ECOMOG also consolidated its capture of Bo, Sierra Leone's second city, news organisations on Thursday reported widespread destruction by retreating AFRC and RUF soldiers. A Roman Catholic priest said that the destruction in Bo was "massive" and that up to 100 people had been killed. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) buried them in mass graves.

Meanwhile, the ECOMOG Chief of Staff, Brigadier-General Abdul One-Mohammed quoted by Reuters said he planned to deploy troops before the end of the month to gain better control of the hinterland. He expected all roads in the Bo area to be reopened "soon".

ICRC visits detainees

The ICRC said on Thursday it had started visiting detainees held by ECOMOG during the capture of Freetown earlier in the month. It said an ICRC medical team was checking inmates in the Freetown Central prison, where several hundred combatants, mainly from the AFRC and the RUF, were held.

LIBERIA: Liberia sends troops to Sierra Leone border

Liberia has sent troops to its border with Sierra Leone following reports that supporters of the ousted AFRC in Freetown were crossing the frontier, media reports said on Thursday. A Liberian defence ministry spokesman, Philphert Browne, said the measure was a precaution because there was no confirmation of fighters crossing into the country.

Murder trial opens

The trial of two former Liberian security officers charged with murdering the opposition politician Samuel Dokie late last year opened on Wednesday in the city of Gbarnga, 160 km northeast of the capital Monrovia, news organisations reported on Wednesday. The two pleaded not guilty.

Independent Star Radio said one of the first witnesses called to give evidence, police Colonel Lemuel Reeves, told the court that Dokie, his wife Janet and two others had been detained in the Gbarnga district by officers of the Special Security Service (SSS). They were not seen again until the discovery of their mutilated bodies, he said.

He also was quoted as telling the court that five men, all of them former SSS personnel, could be held "reasonably" responsible for the murders. On Thursday, however, Star Radio said the justice ministry had ordered the discharge of three of the men to serve as state witnesses.

NIGER: Army mutiny spreads to Zinder

A Niger army mutiny over pay which started in the eastern provincial town of Diffa at the weekend and spread to Agadez in the north, also gripped Niger's second city, Zinder, on Thursday, media reports said. According to AFP, gunfire was heard in the city. Soldiers also reportedly stormed Zinder radio station and forced staff to broadcast pay demands and messages of support for colleagues in Diffa and Agadez.

In Diffa meanwhile, AFP said soldiers were angered by remarks attributed to defence minister, Yahaya Tounkara, that the soldiers had only made demands for back-pay and better conditions. The soldiers also wanted two senior officers removed from the Diffa command.

Although details of the mutiny in Niger were scant, a local source in the capital, Niamey, told IRIN on Thursday that the mutiny mainly concerned material demands. "There is no apparent political agenda," the source said.

AFP said a senior Nigerien officer, Colonel Moussa Moumouni Djermakoye, had been in Agadez since Wednesday trying to restore order. Djermakoye, who is reportedly popular among rank-and-file soldiers, was expected also to travel to Diffa and the eastern garrison town of Nguigmi in coming days, the report said.

However, signs of insecurity had spread as well to the capital, Niamey, in the past month following four shooting incidents near the official residence of President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, Reuters reported. It said an armed off-duty presidential guard had been shot and killed last Saturday in front of the residence in circumstances which remained unclear.

NIGERIA: Lawyer to stand for presidency

A Nigerian lawyer, Tunji Braithwaite, said on Wednesday he would stand as an opposition candidate in presidential elections next August, Reuters reported. Braithwaite said he was worried about the growing campaign to nominate the current Head of State, General Sani Abacha as a consensus candidate.

"I did not see anyone challenging Abacha so I decided to throw my hat in the ring," Braithwaite was quoted as saying. According to Nigerian media reports, Abacha has not yet decided to stand in the elections, which are part of his pledged transition to civilian rule.

So far, Braithwaite is one of only two candidates to bid for the presidency. According to Reuters the other candidate, Mohammed Dikko Yusuf, has sought to allay suspicion that Abacha encouraged him to stand to give impression of a contest.

A Nigeria analyst told IRIN on Thursday, however, it was unlikely Braithwaite would be seen as a strong contender by the Nigerian electorate.

GHANA: Electricity shortfall

The Ghanaian Mines and Energy Minister, Fred Ohene-Kena, said on Wednesday the demand for electricity was expected to exceed generating capacity by about fifty percent this year, news organisations reported on Thursday. He appealed to consumers to conserve energy so as to prevent a "total collapse" of the supplies.

Abidjan, 26 February 20:00 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: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 20:13:47 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 154, 98.2.26 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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