IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 44-97, 9/10/97

IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 44-97, 9/10/97


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 44-97 of Events in West Africa, 10 September 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: AFRC denies Nigerians killed

Sierra Leone's Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) on Wednesday denied Nigerian press reports that its soldiers had murdered two Nigerian shopkeepers in the capital, Freetown. AFRC Chief-of-Staff, Colonel Samuel Williams, told AFP that the event "exists in the imagination" of a Nigerian businessman quoted by Nigerian papers. The businessman claimed to have witnessed the execution of two Nigerians dragged out of their shops by AFRC soldiers. According to the Lagos press, there have been "man-hunts" against Nigerian residents in the city by AFRC supporters and allied former rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). They reported that some 5,000 Nigerians have fled their homes to take refuge in churches.

The allegations follow last week's bombardment of the port area by Nigerian troops of the West African peacekeeping force (ECOMOG) in which 50 Sierra Leoneans died. At a ceremony held to mourn the deaths on 5 September, a senior AFRC official called on an angry crowd not to take revenge on Nigerians living in the capital. The commander of the Nigerian-led ECOMOG, General Victor Malu, last Wednesday warned Nigerians and other foreign nationals to leave the country. He said ECOMOG planned to tighten an embargo decreed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to force the AFRC to hand power back to ousted President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Source: AFP.

SIERRA LEONE: UNICEF concerned over malnutrition rates

The health situation of children in Sierra Leone is "extremely serious and rapidly deteriorating", a spokesman for UNICEF said in Geneva on Monday. Nutritional surveys have found malnutrition rates running at an average of 10 percent, with pockets of severe malnutrition as high as 15 percent in some parts of the country. UNICEF also said it was "alarmed" at the lack of a clear and speedy exemption procedure to ECOWAS sanctions for humanitarian supplies. "Unless a political situation is found, the nutritional status of the population, especially the children, is bound to deteriorate, and a rise in morbidity and mortality will become inevitable," the spokesman said. Source: UN Central News release.

SIERRA LEONE: First lady calls for international sanctions

Patricia Kabbah, the wife of Sierra Leone's ousted president, on Tuesday called for international sanctions against the AFRC. Kabbah, on a seven-city US tour, said: "I am asking that the currently regionally enforced blockade against the rebel government be strengthened and made truly international." Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, she added: "I ask that America play a leading role in seeing that the blockade is enforced." Source: USIA.

SIERRA LEONE: Bombed ship unaware of embargo

The crew of an embargo-breaking ship bombed by a Nigerian warplane in Freetown harbour on Saturday denied they were carrying arms as alleged by ECOMOG. "I know we loaded rice, there is nothing else," one of the 28-member crew is reported to have told the BBC on Tuesday. He added he and his fellow crewmen were unaware of the ECOWAS embargo on Sierra Leone. The vessel was hit by a bomb and shrapnel penetrated its engine room. No one was reported wounded. Source: United Nations.

Sierra Leonean anti-aircraft guns fired on a Nigerian jet overflying Freetown Tuesday night. AFP reported the overflight was the fourth in a week by Nigerian planes. Two Sierra Leonean newspapers on Wednesday condemned "Nigeria's military high-handedness". Source: AFP.

LIBERIA: China cuts relations

China severed diplomatic relations with Liberia on Tuesday over Monrovia's decision to maintain diplomatic ties with both Beijing and Taiwan. "The mistaken decision of the Liberian government has seriously damaged China's sovereignty," China's ambassador to Liberia said. A Taiwan government official, quoted by AFP in Taipei, condemned "Beijing's mentality of hegemony" over relations with Liberia. China has reportedly cancelled all bilateral agreements with Liberia. Meanwhile, Taiwan donated 90,000 dollars to Liberia on Wednesday, the day after Beijing severed relations, said AFP. Source: Reuters & AFP.

LIBERIA: ECOWAS plans commemorative project

ECOWAS plans to release documents and commemorative stamps to highlight the role played by the 16-member organisation in bringing peace to Liberia. The project also aims to collect expert opinion to develop a model for sub-regional intervention. Source: China news agency Xinhua.

CAMEROON: Opposition party calls for poll boycott

A major Cameroon opposition party said it would boycott presidential elections to protest what it called "irregularities and massive fraud" in past elections. The Union Nationale pour la Democratie et le Proges (UNDP) announced its decision on Monday following parliament's rejection over the weekend of opposition demands for an independent commission to oversee the election expected in October. The UNDP leader, Maigari Bello Bouba, appealed to other opposition parties to join the boycott. President Paul Biya won Cameroon's last presidential poll in 1992 in elections denounced by the opposition as fraudulent and discredited by international observers. Source: AP-Dow Jones.

NIGERIA: Mbeki to visit

South African Vice-President Thambo Mbeki is due in Nigeria on a two-day visit on 17-18 September. He is expected to deliver a "special message" from President Nelson Mandela to Nigerian Head of State General Sani Abacha. According to the Chinese news agency Xinhau, diplomatic sources say Mbeki's visit is part of current efforts to improve recent frosty relations between the two countries. Source: Xinhua.

NIGERIA: Journalists arrested

Two Nigerian journalists were arrested by the Internal Security Task Force in southeastern Rivers State over coverage of a press release by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). Chris Ikwunze of the 'Vanguard' newspaper and James Akpandem of the 'Punch' were detained last week at the Internal Security Detention Camp at Okombo in Rivers State. Task force commander, Major Obi Umahi, said there were "exaggerations" in the MOSOP press release, which claimed that his unit had impounded books written by MOSOP leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa, an activist and writer, was executed by the military government in 1995.

Meanwhile, Nigerian journalists, Bayo Onanuga and Babafemi Ojudu, have won a press freedom award by the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists. The two editors of the Nigerian publishing house Communication Network were honoured for continuing to "publish their independent news magazines despite threats, harassment, detention and imprisonment". Source: IFEX & local sources.

TOGO: New electoral law

Togo's parliament on Tuesday adopted an electoral law reform bill intended to ensure greater independence of the National Elections Commission, Reuters reported. Under the new law the commission's chairman must be a judge appointed by the cabinet. The eight commission members are to be nominated by the majority party and the opposition on a 50-50 basis. The constitutional court has also been empowered as the sole authority to arbitrate in electoral disputes, until now a job of the supreme court. Source: Reuters.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA: National conference kicks off

Equatorial Guinea's government opened a national conference this week to discuss the nation's troubles and to agree how its new oil wealth will be spent, Reuters reported. Opposition parties have however described the conference as "a talking shop". The oil company, Mobil, is currently producing some 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) and expects to reach 80,000 bpd by the end of the year. Source: Reuters.

GAMBIA: Businessmen jailed over helicopter deal

A Gambian businessman, Foutanga Dit Babani Sissouko, was sentenced to four-months in jail by a Miami court on Tuesday after a judge ruled he was not protected by diplomatic immunity. Sissouki had pleaded guilty to offering US$ 30,000 to a US customs agent to permit the export of two military helicopters to Gambia without proper licenses. The Gambian government intervened, saying he had diplomatic status as a "special adviser to a special mission to the United States" to buy the helicopters. The court however disagreed. Source: Reuters.

Abidjan, 10 September 1995 [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, 11 Sep 1997 09:15:23 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-WA Daily Media Update 44-97, 10 September 1997 97.9.10

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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