IRIN-West Africa Update 354 for 1998.12.7

IRIN-West Africa Update 354 for 1998.12.7


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

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IRIN-WA Update 354 of Events in West Africa (Monday 7 December)

NIGERIA: PDP takes lead in Nigerian poll.

Media sources in Lagos told IRIN today (Monday) that preliminary results from Saturday's local elections in Nigeria showed the People's Democratic Party (PDP) headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo taking the lead in the polls except in the southwest. The PDP secured 304 local government council seats, the All People's Party (APP) won 119 seats, and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) clinched 95 according to the provisional results. The Independent Electoral National Commission (INEC) announced it would not release final results until run-off elections had taken place in a few councils.

The BBC said the PDP had a successful campaign of alliance building between Nigeria's various ethnic groups and regions. It quoted the PDP publicity secretary, Gerry Garner, as saying that: "We are delighted Nigerians have voted for democracy and for the basic programme of the PDP." A source told IRIN the PDP was made up of opponents of General Sani Abacha, the former military leader, and had built a credible reputation before becoming a political party.

Another source told IRIN that the Yorubas, a majority in the southwest, had felt betrayed by Obasanjo who is from the same ethnic group, as he had not represented their interests in the past. This was why the PDP did not do well in the southwest.

Abubakar satisfied with the vote

Nigerian military leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar, quoted by the BBC, said after the voting that: "democracy is here to stay and it will stay. This is the first step in our democratisation programme and I'm happy to say that quite a lot of people turned out." Before the Saturday elections, Abubakar called in a national address on political parties to "believe in the principle that the end does not justify the means. Those who win should learn to be magnanimous in victory, while losers should be gallant in defeat."

Commonwealth delighted with turnout

Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku expressed satisfaction today with the conduct of the local government elections in Nigeria based on reports from its electoral team in Nigeria, a Commonwealth press release received by IRIN said. Anyaoku said he was delighted by the "turnout" which reflected the desire of the Nigerian people to achieve the transition. He also commended INEC for working closely with political parties to facilitate an inclusive and transparent electoral process.

A 17-member strong team from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum was present in Nigeria for elections. In a related development, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a Nigerian human rights group, said elections were "credible" in spite of a series of violent incidents and attempts at voter fraud, AFP reported today. The Group said the voter turnout was reasonably "impressive compared with the turnout in elections in the recent past".

Six people killed in oil-delta area

Six people were killed on Saturday in the oil-rich delta area when supporters of two political parties turned up at the same time at a polling station, news organisations reported. The clash took place at Aghalokpe, 50 km southwest of Warri. Witnesses quoted by AFP said police guarding the polling station intervened but had not been able to stop the shooting immediately. Security was beefed up in the delta area prior to the elections.

GABON: Bongo leads presidential poll

President Omar Bongo held a strong lead over two key challengers after the first-round vote in in Gabon's presidential elections on Sunday (yesterday), news agencies said. AFP reported that Bongo won in five polling centres in Libreville, ahead of Pierre Mamboundou, the leader of the Haut conseil de resistance (HCR) and Paul Mba Abessole of the Rassemblement national des bucherons (RNB).

Preliminary results from the centres in two of the capital's six districts gave about 60 percent to Bongo, 20 percent to the HCR and 10 percent to the RNB. There are eight candidates all told. Libreville accounts for almost 40 percent of the 595,000 registered voters. If Bongo does not get more than 50 percent of the first round votes a second round will be held on 30 December.

Three opposition leaders denounced what they described as organised fraud attempts in the elections. Pierre-Andre Kombila, the leader of one of the two RNB factions, said cheating was rampant, pointing to "parallel electoral lists, the distribution of false voter cards, and false passports," AFP said. PANA reported that voting started late in some polling stations due to lack of election materials.

GUINEA BISSAU: Prime minister designate accuses president of crimes

Guinea Bissau's newly appointed prime minister, Francisco Fadul, has accused President Joao Bernardo Vieira of "assassinations, beatings, slander, defamation and debasement of (political) leaders," news reports said on Monday.

News agencies quoted Fadul as saying in an interview with the weekly Portuguese newspaper 'Expresso' that Vieira was one of the richest men in the world whose personal wealth almost equalled that of the country's foreign debt. Fadul, calling Vieira a dictator, accused the president of being "the prime factor" in creating animosity among people of Guinea Bissau, AFP reported.

Fadul also called for Luis Cabral's return from exile in Portugal so he could contest the presidential elections due in the first quarter of 1999. Vieira overthrew Cabral, the former head of state, in a coup in November 1980.

The latest OCHA situation report on Guinea Bissau is now available on Reliefweb:

SIERRA LEONE: Chairman of UN sanctions committee visits Freetown

The chairman of the UN Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone was visiting Freetown to find ways of ensuring that a UN arms embargo on rebels there is effectively enforced, an OCHA official told IRIN today.

The mission, being undertaken by the Security Council, is being led by Sweden's Permanent Representative to the UN, Hans Dahlgren. The delegation will also visit Liberia during the week-long tour which began on Sunday. Dahlgren's trip comes against the backdrop of reports that the rebels have been receiving arms from neighbouring countries. The arms embargo against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the ousted military junta in Sierra Leone was imposed by the Council on 5 June.

ECOMOG beats off attack on Yilleh village

West African intervention troops have beaten off an attack by rebels on the village of Yilleh, 60 km east of Freetown, an ECOMOG officer told IRIN today. He said that when rebels attacked the village over the weekend ECOMOG troops in the nearby town of Masiaka were called in. The officer said civilians from Masiaka fled, fearing an extension of the fighting. He gave no casualty figures. AFP reported that truckloads of exhausted looking civilians continued to arrive in Freetown on Monday. Rebels also attacked the Port Loko area, 60 km northeast of Freetown, and Kambia, some 20 km farther north over the weekend, AFP reported. However, the ECOMOG officer told IRIN that the Port Loko highway was now being patrolled by the West African force.

He also confirmed news reports that an ECOMOG Alfa Jet on "a routine mission" had crashed while returning to base near Freetown's Lungi international airport. The crash appeared to be the result of a mechanical failure, he said, adding that the pilot ejected safely and had undergone a medical examination.

GUINEA: Border closed ahead of presidential elections

The government has announced it will seal all its land borders from 5 December, a week before presidential elections slated for 14 December, until 20 December, Amadou Diallo, a journalist in Conakry, told IRIN today.

He said the government had not given any reason for closing its borders, but it was worried because it was surrounded by three countries in crisis. Guinea was faced with frequent rebel incursions from Sierra Leone causing loss of life and property within its borders. He added that the Guinean Minister of Defence was visiting its troops stationed along its border with Sierra Leone in a bid to boost morale. The government was also concerned about its border with Liberia which had been a "hostile enemy" for a number of years, while it had sent troops into neighbouring Guinea Bissau to support the embattled President Joao Bernardo Vieira.

Diallo said all five presidential aspirants were currently campaigning in the rural areas to mobilise the electorate. There had been reports of polling stations not receiving the electoral material while a large number of voters had not received their registration cards. Diallo added that members of the Haut Conseil Superieur Electoral, the electoral commission, were in the interior monitoring electoral preparations.

NIGER: EU helps aid agency programmes in Niger

The European Commission has set aside two million ecus (US $2.34 million) in aid for Niger which will help 150,000 people in the north to start farms, small businesses and craft centres. The Commission said in a statement received by IRIN today that the money, which will be spread over eight months, would support projects run by several NGOs - Cooperazione per lo Sviluppo dei Paesi emergenti (COSPE), Premiere urgence, Action contre la faim-Espagne and Aide medical international. Since 1997 the Commission has provided 4.9 million ecus to help people in norhtern Niger affected by fighting between government troops and Touareg rebels.

Abidjan, 7 december 1998 17:30 GMT


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Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 17:51:51 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 354 for 1998.12.7

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,