IRIN-West Africa Update 296, 98.9.16

IRIN-West Africa Update 296, 98.9.16

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

tel: +225 21 73 54 fax +22521 63 35 e-mail irin-wa

IRIN-WA Update 296 of Events in West Africa, (Wednesday) 16 September 1998

GUINEA BISSAU: Foreign ministers "close" to compromise

Foreign ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) were close to reaching a consensus late today (Wednesday) on policing the ceasefire in Guinea Bissau. Sources at the conference in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, told IRIN that the Lusophone nations backed the idea of West African ECOMOG intervention forces patrolling a buffer zone on the border with Senegal, but were opposed to a generalised deployment.

The two bodies agreed to a joint approach to consolidate the ceasefire between President Joao Bernardo Viera and army mutineers led by General Ansumane Mane. In three months of clashes, which ended in July, the UN estimated that 350,000 people had been internally displaced and much of the infrastructure of the capital, Bissau, damaged or destroyed.

"A key objective of the foreign ministers at this meeting is to get representatives of the two warring sides themselves - they are here after all - to sit down, talk and seek further consensus," the source added.

Reuters quoted ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansane Kouyate as saying: "We have differences. We, the mediators, are meeting amongst ourselves. Next we will call in the warring parties for talks." Kouyate, it added, had played down the differences which were mainly over what a rebel spokesman called Mane's objections to a generalised ECOMOG deployment which would include troops from Senegal and Guinea because both countries had intervened at the outset of the conflict in support of the Vieira government. The talks were expected to continue tomorrow.

NIGERIA: World Bank discusses debt relief

The Nigerian head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged the World Bank today to work with his country on its new economic programme, news organisations reported. Speaking after talks with Jean-Louis Sarbib, the World Bank vice president for Africa, Abubakar reiterated his promise to liberalise the economy and privatise key state-run industries. The Nigerian finance minister, Ismaila Usman, appealed to the World Bank to unfreeze lines of credit frozen in 1995 and accept Nigeria's demand for debt relief, AFP said.

Sarbib is on a four-day official visit to Nigeria in preparation of the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October at which Nigeria's requests for an easing of its debt burden would be discussed. Media reports quoted Sarbib as saying that he was "very encouraged" by economic reforms under way in Nigeria and hoped that the momentum would be maintained by the government.

Abubakar promised at a news conference last week to liberalise the economy "soon" and invited international investors and Nigerians to participate in the privatisation programme.

SIERRA LEONE: ECOMOG re-captures eastern towns

Troops from the Nigerian-led West African intervention force, ECOMOG, and loyalist Kamajor hunter militia have recaptured four towns in eastern Sierra Leone, Star Radio reported yesterday. ECOMOG and the Kamajors reportedly captured Joru, Made-Kalema, Tokunbu and Nyama in a surprise attack while rebel defenders were mining for diamonds.

Star Radio quoted a Kamajor commander as saying the rebels had suffered heavy casualties. Some 300 captive civilians had also been freed, he said. ECOMOG and forces loyal to civilian President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah have been engaged in a protracted campaign to dislodge members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and its allies from the former Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) from Sierra Leone's dense northern and eastern bush regions since February.

LIBERIA: Smaller army recommended

The Armed Forces of Liberia chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Prince C. Johnson, has recommended that the country reduce the size of its army to a more streamlined, better paid and better disciploned force a third of its current size, Star Radio reported yesterday. It quoted General Johnson as saying he envisaged an army of no more than 5,000 men.

WEST AFRICA: American food aid

The US Department of Agriculture has told the WFP that it is ready to deliver 513,700 metric tons of wheat and 45,000 metric tons of wheat flour and bulgur, for nations around the world with food problems. Media reports said nations in West Africa which would receive a portion of the aid were Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Liberia.

Abidjan, 16 September, 1998 18:30 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: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 18:39:26 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 296, 98.9.16 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific