IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 29-97, 8/14/97

IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 29-97, 8/14/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for West Africa

Tel: +225 21-63-35

Fax: +225 21-63-35


IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 29-97 of Events in West Africa, 14 August 1997

[As a supplement to its weekly roundups of main events in West Africa, IRIN-WA will produce a daily synopsis of international media 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 - Bombardment by ECOMOG troops

According to the director of information for the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Ministry of Defence, Commander Andrew Milton, "several" citizens were killed on Wednesday evening in an "intense bombardment" of Lungi village by members of the Nigerian-led ECOWAS peacekeeping force (ECOMOG) stationed at Lungi International airport, 15 kms from Freetown. The heavy shelling which pitted ECOMOG troops against the People's Army (PA), an amalgamation of AFRC soldiers and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, started at 22:00 local time ending an hour later. The incident caused panic amongst the local population. Calm was eventually restored by mid-morning today (Thursday). Milton accused the Nigerians of "unnecessary shelling" of villages near the airport. He said, PA troop positions had already been withdrawn to Port Loko. The clandestine radio station 98.1 FM, which supports the return of ousted President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, accused the PA of provoking the attack. In an official statement ECOMOG said that the PA had initiated the attack, breaking the ceasefire agreement.

More than 120 people died in June when Nigerian ships off the coast of Sierra Leone bombarded the capital, Freetown, causing mass panic amongst civilians. Source: AFP.

SIERRA LEONE - AFRC reclaims village

In the interior, the AFRC claims to have retaken the village of Tongo in Kenema District some 240 kms east of Freetown. Tongo had been occupied by the Kamajor since October 1996 when the Sierra Leonean army pulled out. Since then, the Kamajor have been in charge of security for the local inhabitants and the diamond mine operations. The battle which began on Monday ended Wednesday. Ten Kamajor were reportedly captured and some PA soldiers received "minor injuries", said an AFRC spokesperson. Source: AFP.

SIERRA LEONE - Food crisis worsens

The food situation in Sierra Leone is deteriorating rapidly and could develop into a famine, according to a report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today (Thursday). The report says that Sierra Leone now tops the list of the worst affected African nations, beating drought and famine prone Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. According to the report, the price of rice has tripled in the capital, Freetown, and the supply of food and water is deteriorating. Only one fifth of the shops and markets are open.

Prior to the 25 May coup, prospects for a bumper harvest had looked good. In late 1996 an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Sierra Leone estimated paddy rice production at about 391,000 tonnes, about ten per cent higher than the previous year. Root crop production was expected to increase by seven per cent. Since last month official sanctions have been placed on Sierra Leone by ECOWAS. However, several ships carrying rice and fuel have managed to reach Freetown despite the embargo. The latest to arrive berthed Monday and is reported to be off-loading 15,000 tonnes of rice. Source: IPS.

SIERRA Leone - Guinean foreign minister continues rounds

Guinean Foreign Minister Lamine Kamara left Cote d'Ivoire arriving in Nigeria on Wednesday where he met with ECOWAS Chair Nigerian military ruler General Sani Abacha. A meeting of the Committee or Four, which includes the foreign ministers from Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, opened today (Thursday) in Accra, Ghana. The Committee was mandated by the 16-nation bloc of the Economic Community of West African States'(ECOWAS) to resolve the crisis in Sierra Leone. Source: AFP.

SIERRA LEONE - Students to defy police

The leader of the National Students' Union, Egerton M'Carthy, said his organisation will proceed with their scheduled "March for Democracy" on Monday in defiance of a police order to halt the march. Several religious and women's groups have been invited to participate in the march. The police have forbidden it because of the "general security situation in the country". Source: AFP.

LIBERIA - Nigeria to pay Sierra Leone peacekeepers

The Nigerian government says it will pay welfare allowances to Sierra Leonean soldiers serving in the West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG in Liberia. On Monday part of the Sierra Leonean contingent in Monrovia fired into the air to protest their unpaid allowances. ECOMOG commanders sent tanks and troops to quell the disturbance and arrested the responsible soldiers. Nigeria says that it will pay backdated allowances beginning June 1997 to the 360 Sierra Leonean soldiers in Liberia. The soldiers say that they have not received their allowances since last year. Source: AFP.

SENEGAL - New electoral organisation welcomed

A spokesperson for the 19-member collective of opposition parties, Iba Der Thiam, said on Wednesday that the decision to create a National Elections Observer (Observatoire Nationale des Elections - ONEL) agency was a "victory to celebrate" for the opposition, which has been pushing for the creation of a National Elections Commission. The creation of the ONEL was announced by President Abdou Diouf on Monday following a deadlock in the National Dialogue (Concertation Nationale) meetings on 11 May. Thiam said that some 80% of their propositions had been accepted while none of those made by the ruling Socialist Party (Partie Socialiste PS) were retained. There are still some issues which needed to be addressed for which the collective will issue a statement on 15 August, he said.

The PS said that it was satisfied with the decision, notably the retention of the ONEL functions within the government administration structure, the fact that the judiciary retains the sole right to announce election results and that the appeals court would continue to oversee the sincerity of the elections process.

President Diouf's decision is considered to be an important step in a country where election results and transparency have been habitually contested by the opposition. If ratified by the government, the ONEL will be composed of nine members nominated by the head of state following consultations with organisations representing magistrates, lawyers, universities, communication professionals and human rights agencies. The president further announced that an elections department would be created within the Ministry of the Interior. Source: AFP & Senegalese daily "le Soleil".

MAURITANIA - Drought threatens thousands

World Food Programme (WFP) provided some 7,000 MTs of food to 200,000 people affected by the drought which has hit eight agro-pastoral regions in the east and south of Mauritania. The drought, which has created a food deficit of 34,000 MTs, has affected the main food producing areas of Hodh El Chargui, Hodh el Gharbi, Assaba, Tagant, Brakna, Gorgol, Guidimagha and Trarza. Last year's rainfall was 40 to 60% less than normal and has affected the production of maize, sorghum and millet. Some 30 to 40% of the population in the regions are estimated to have been affected by the drought conditions. A mission led by the WFP comprised of representatives from the government, the US Government Aid Agency USAID and NGOs visited the region at the beginning of August. The mission found numerous cases of malnutrition, notably among women and children.

WFP has committed to providing food aid covering half of the 34,000 MTs deficit. The European Union will provide 3,000 MTs and the government 4,000 MTs. Food aid will be targeted to the most vulnerable members of the population and distributed through local villages committees. The operation is expected to continue into next October. WFP is worried that the situation may worsen as the crops for the first planting season were burnt in the fields by the sun, leaving farmers with even smaller quantities of seed stocks for the next planting season.

Mauritania is affected by a minor drought every five to six years and a severe drought every 13 to 15 years. The last drought was in 1992; however, observers remarked that the cycle had shortened. Source: WFP press release.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Treason trial begins

The trial of nine men accused of treason and attempting to assassinate Equatorial Guinea's head of state began in absentia this week, Radio Malabo reported. The accused, who include an Italian, two Russians and a Spaniard, face the death sentence if found guilty. All nine are believed to be in Spain, Equatorial Guinea's former colonial power. Chief amongst the accused is Severo Moto, leader of the country's opposition. He was arrested in Angola in May with four fellow countrymen and the crew of a Russian fishing vessel. The men were expelled by Angola to Spain where Moto holds political refugee status. Moto was found guilty of a previous charge of treason but received a pardon for his 28-year prison sentence in 1995. Sources: Radio Malabo, World News Service/FBIS & AFP.

Abidjan, 14 August 1997


[Via the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa (IRIN-WA) Reports mailing list. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the UN or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should be attributed to the original sources where appropriate. For further information: e-mail, Tel: +225 217367 Fax: +225 216335.]

---- Message-Id: <> Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 18:54:10 +0100 From: UN DHA IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 29-97, 14 August 1997 97.8.14

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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