IRIN-West Africa Update 295, 98.9.15

IRIN-West Africa Update 295, 98.9.15

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

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IRIN-WA Update 295 of Events in West Africa, (Tuesday) 15 September 1998

GUINEA BISSAU: Rebels, government expected to meet

Representatives of both sides in the Guinea Bissau conflict gathered in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, today (Tuesday) as foreign ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) met to negotiate a peace plan.

Diplomatic sources told IRIN that military experts from the two organisations, who had held two days of talks on the practicalities of implementing a ceasefire plan ahead of today's meeting, were in disagreement at what role, if any, neighbouring Senegal would play in Guinea Bissau. News reports said that Senegal, which with Guinea, sent forces to back Guinea Bissau's president, Joao Bernardo Vieira, against a military rebellion started after the sacking of the armed forces chief, Ansumane Mane, had sought a leading role as part of a West African intervention force. The sources said some Lusophone countries, like the rebels themselves, were opposed to the idea. The foreign ministers would be asked to resolve the issue.

The three-month conflict ended with a truce in July which has largely held. ECOWAS and the CPLP have agreed on a joint approach to consolidate the ceasefire, and assist a government of national unity hold elections next year. The talks in Abidjan, which were expected to continue tomorrow (Wednesday) and possibly Thursday, are being chaired by Amara Essy, the foreign minister of Cote d'Ivoire.

Ivorian officials quoted by Reuters said the ministers would consult the rival delegations with a view to getting them around the negotiating table.

SIERRA LEONE: Cholera outbreak

Cholera has claimed the lives of 47 people in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, since July, humanitarian sources told IRIN today. Robert Painter, of the UN's Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Office (HACU) in Freetown said: "The Pasteur Institute in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, has confirmed samples from the recent outbreak of severe diarrhoea in the Freetown area as cholera."

During the period 19 July to 9 September, he said, 1,441 cases were recorded, 47 of which resulted in death from classic vibrio cholera.

He said the government had met UNICEF and WHO representatives in Freetown to discuss the outbreak and emergency measures already undertaken by the health authorities.

NIGERIA: Six die in communal clashes

Six people died at the weekend in renewed clashes between the Ife and Modakeke communities in Osun State, southwest Nigeria, AFP reported today. In a dispatch quoting Nigerian news reports, it said the fighting broke out at dawn on Sunday, when unidentified gunmen attacked the village of Abule Eroka on the outskirts of Modakeke.

'The Guardian' newspaper said the attack was believed to be part of an ongoing low-level war that broke out last year between the two communities following the move of a local authority headquarters from Ife to Modakeke. Although the local state administrator eventually moved the headquarters to a neutral site located midway between the two towns in a bid to stop the fighting, AFP said the feud had become entrenched.

Government seeks to improve prisons

The Nigerian government was striving to improve what it called "highly deplorable" conditions in the country's prisons, the head of the national prison service told the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria yesterday. In a report carried by AFP, Mohammed Jarma said steps were being taken to improve food, limit the number of inmates per cell and provide better medical and sanitary conditions for prisoners.

There are more than 45,000 inmates in Nigerian jails, most of which were built over 70-80 years ago. Nigeria's military ruler, General Abdulsalami Abubakar has spoken out on the need to improve conditions in the prisons, which earlier this year were described as lamentable by the national prisons minister.

Favourable cocoa forecast

Good weather conditions have improved prospects for Nigeria's 1998/99 main cocoa crop and there are few signs of damaging disease. Reuters quoted Robo Adhuze, a crop analyst in the southwest cocoa trading town of Akure, as saying weather conditions this season had been ideal.

Estimates for the 1998/99 crop now range between 145,000 and 155,000 tonnes, about the same as for the 1997/98 season but still down on the 1996/97 harvest which reached about 165,000 tonnes, it said.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Amnesty welcomes reprieve

Amnesty International today said it welcomed a decree by the president of Equatorial Guinea, General Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, commuting the death sentences served on 15 separatists recently convicted of terrorism. But it said prison conditions had to improve.

"We welcome the commutation and hope the prisoners' incommunicado detention, which amounted to a slow execution, will end immediately," an Amnesty statement said. It recalled that the 15, four of whom were tried in absentia, were sentenced in the capital, Malabo, after "a summary and unfair" military trial in May this year at which Amnesty International observers were present. On the day of their sentence, a firing squad was ready and graves had been dug for them. But it said, Nguema ordered a stay of the execution at the last minute.

"Since being sentenced to death, the 11 prisoners have been kept in appalling prison conditions and near starvation. They were not allowed to receive family visits and could only leave their cells for a few minutes a day. These prison conditions are endangering the lives of the detainees," Amnesty said.

The 15 were among a larger group accused of involvement in attacks on military barracks on Bioko Island in January, which led to the death of three soldiers and several civilians.

GHANA: Woman killed in land sale riot

A woman was shot and killed and four men injured at the weekend in clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting against a land sale at Fiapre, 440 km northwest of Accra in Ghana's Brong Ahafo region. AFP said the protestors were demanding the resignation of their local chief, Nana Ababio, who was accused of selling the only arable land in the Fiapre area to the Roman Catholic Church for the construction of a university. It said he denied the allegations.

Abidjan, 15 September 1998 18:00 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: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 18:01:04 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 295, 98.9.15 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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