IRIN-West Africa Daily Update 179, 98.4.2

IRIN-West Africa Daily Update 179, 98.4.2

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 179 of Events in West Africa, (Thursday) 2 April 1998

LIBERIA: World Bank praises Liberia

World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Jean-Louis Sarbib, Wednesday praised Liberia's efforts to re-build the country after its civil war, Reuters reported. Sarbib was speaking at the end of a five-day assessment mission in preparation for the 7 April Paris donor conference at which the Liberian government will present a US$ 438 million national plan for reconstruction. Liberian Finance Minister Elie Saleeby cautioned against over-optimism before leaving for Paris on Wednesday. He told Reuters the donor conference would not provide instant solutions to Liberia's economic problems. He also said donors were ready to help but were emphasising human rights, good governance, fiscal discipline and accountability. The Paris meeting is co-sponsored by UNDP, the World Bank and the Netherlands.

The US-based "Friends of Liberia" (FOL), in a statement to the donor conference, praised the considerable progress made in Liberia but warned that the successful completion of the process towards peace and democracy needed the international community's investment and political will. It also recommended the conference make assistance conditional on the Liberian government becoming a democracy and respecting human rights.

Refuge promised to fleeing Sierra Leoneans

Liberian Defence Minister Daniel Chea said all unarmed Sierra Leoneans seeking refuge will be given refugee status, independent Star Radio reported Thursday. Chea said Sierra Leoneans had helped Liberians during their own troubles, but warned Liberian territory could not be used to wage war against its neighbours.

Meanwhile, the British aid agency, Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN), in a press release Wednesday, warned that the number of Sierra Leonean refugees fleeing the fighting in eastern Sierra Leone to Liberia could double to more than 100,000. MERLIN said it was already providing assistance to over 50,000 refugees in Vahun district, Liberia. It said there was no sign of the arrival rate of 5,000 a day letting up.

SIERRA LEONE: Another mass grave found

A mass grave containing over 550 corpses, mainly women and children, was discovered on Sherbro island, 140 km southeast of the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, AFP reported on Wednesday. Members of the Kamajor Civil Defence Unit said the bodies were probably hurriedly buried after the junta bombarded the island, suspecting it to be a Kamajor stronghold. Mass graves were also found recently in the southern districts of Bo and Mattru Jong as well as in eastern Kenema District, AFP added.

Meanwhile, junta members killed seven people in an ambush near the town of Dankawalie, 250 km north of the capital, AFP reported Thursday. ECOMOG troops arrested the perpetrators, who were carrying identification documents issued to surrendered soldiers and rebels. In another development, AFP, quoting state radio, reported junta forces had abducted seven girls, aged seven to fifteen, and raped others from the Ben Hirsch Child Centre in Kenema, 140 kms east of Freetown.

NIGERIA: Lagos military official says life threatened

The military administrator of Lagos State, Colonel Buba Mohammed Marwe, speaking on Nigerian state radio and television Wednesday, claimed that unknown persons were again trying to assassinate him, AFP reported. He said their motives were not clear, adding that he and his entourage had been the target of several bomb attacks between December 1996 to the middle of last year. Referring to a recent local press report, Marwa said attempts had also been made to discredit him by linking him to the December 1997 coup plot. Marwa said he would not be intimidated.

A humanitarian source told IRIN that Marwa is well respected in Lagos because of "Operation Sweep", a joint police and military venture which has been successful in reducing Lagos' notorious crime rate.

Parties receive funding

The National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) disbursed grants of 120 million naira (US$ 1,400) to each of the five official political parties, Nigerian television reported on Tuesday. The grants are to facilitate preparations for the 25 April parliamentary elections. The deadline for filing nomination papers has been set for 6 April. Opposition groups have long criticised the government for not allowing any genuine opposition parties, claiming that the five official parties are all pro-government.

Journalists arrested

'Tell' magazine bureau chief Danlami Nmodu was arrested and taken to an unknown destination on 27 March, the International Freedom of Expression and Exchange (IFEX) reported on Wednesday. According to IFEX, 'Tell' is one of the most persecuted media organisations in Nigeria. Its managing editor has been in detention since last year and its assistant editor is serving a 15-year jail term. IFEX also reported the arrests of 'Prime Sunset' publisher John Edward and assistant editor Ganiyu Adeeoye on 22 March. Journalists Chidi Nkwopara and Donatus Njoku were also arrested on 24 March while investigating a blow-out at the Agip-owned Akri oil flow station in Imo State. The journalists, accused of espionage by Agip Oil Company, remain in custody, IFEX said.

Senegal: Clinton praises peacekeeping initiative

President Bill Clinton Wednesday stressed the need to strengthen Africa's peacekeeping capability to prevent tragedies like the 1994 Rwandan genocide, news agencies reported. Clinton was speaking at Thies military base, where Senegalese troops are being trained by US Green Berets under the US-sponsored African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) which aims to train 10,000 to 12,000 African peacekeeping troops. ACRI, he said, would help African nations respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in Africa and worldwide. Africa and the US had a great stake in its success, he said. ACRI's programme, which also includes Mali, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia, is part of a broader training initiative by Britain, France and the US. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the UN are also included in the project, AFP said.

In his address, Clinton also announced plans for an African Centre for Security Studies (ACSS), AFP reported. There were no details on where it would be based.

Resignations from ruling party

Former Senegalese Foreign Minister Djibo Ka and several other senior politicians resigned Wednesday from the ruling Parti Socialiste du Senegal (PS) in the lead-up to the May legislative elections, the BBC reported. Ka's appeal for democratic reform last December split the PS, which has ruled Senegal since independence. Ka and his supporters were subsequently suspended from the PS and denounced as dissidents at the party's national conference last month, the 'New York Times' reported. Ka told the daily 'Sud Quotidien' that his group would stand in the forthcoming elections under the Renouveau Democratique.

MALI: Opposition leaders acquitted

Ten leaders of Mali's radical opposition collective were acquitted on charges of inciting violence and complicity to murder, news sources reported on Wednesday. They were charged with killing a police officer at an opposition rally last August. The acquittal is seen as a further attempt by President Oumar Konare to defuse Mali's political crisis since last year's elections, AFP reported.

CAMEROON: Amnesty fears deportation

Twelve Equatorial Guinean nationals arrested six months ago by a Cameroon anti-terrorist unit remain incommunicado in Cameroon, the human rights NGO Amnesty International (AI) reported Wednesday. AI said it was concerned that the 12, members of political opposition parties in Equatorial Guinea, face deportation to their home country, where they are in serious danger of being ill-treated. According to AI, at least eight of the twelve have been granted refugee status by the UNHCR. It called on the Cameroon government to respect international refugee law.

BURKINA FASO: Electoral changes

The Burkina Faso government Wednesday announced the creation of a new independent electoral commission and revision of the electoral code in time for presidential elections scheduled for December, AFP reported. Opposition parties had contested the neutrality of the former Commission National d'Organisation des Elections (CNOE) which organised the 1997 legislative elections.

Abidjan, 2 April 1998, 18:45 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, 2 Apr 1998 18:50:40 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Daily Update 179, 98.4.2 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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