IRIN-WA Update 298 of Events in West Africa, 18 September 1998

IRIN-WA Update 298 of Events in West Africa, 18 September 1998

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 298 of Events in West Africa, (Friday) 18 September 1998

LIBERIA: NGOs meet Taylor

International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in Liberia met President Charles Taylor yesterday to discuss priorities for post-war recovery. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that the Liberia representative for Lutheran World Service (LWS), Rheinard Tietze, had read a joint statement on behalf of some 30 NGOs calling on Taylor to put youth projects and improved security top of his agenda.

Tietze said unemployed youths posed a particular problem for the country following the end of the seven-year civil war, which only ended after Taylor's former faction, the National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL), won the July 1997 elections by a landslide. NGOs said their mission in Liberia would also be helped by an overhaul of the security forces, which aid workers have repeatedly described as "delinquent".

Tietze also said humanitarian organisations had been pleased by action taken earlier this month to dismantle war-time check points, which media reports said had been one of the main instruments of harassment and extortion by faction fighters. For his part, Taylor reportedly asked NGOs to work more closely with his government in re-building Liberia. International NGOs have previously been cautious about supporting many of Taylor's projects which they say have been over-centralised.

NIGERIA: Abubakar swears in new ruling council members

Nigeria's new head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, swore in five new members of the military Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) yesterday in a ceremony in the capital, Abuja, Nigerian state television reported.

Abubakar said Major Generals Suleiman Said, Rufus Kukpolati and Idris Garba, Navy Commodore Emmanuel Acholonu and Group Captain Ikechukwu Namani were replacing officers who had been "redeployed within the military formation".

PRC happy with registration process

Meanwhile, another PRC member, Air Vice-Marshal Emmanuel Edem, said at the PRC meeting he was satisfied with last week's registration of political parties hoping to take part in the democratic elections due to start in November which have been promised by the military government.

Edem reportedly said the PRC was "very, very happy" so far with the parties being considered by Nigeria's Independent National Elections Commission (INEC). "We sincerely believe that Nigerians will, this time around, play politics of friendship, not politics of bitterness," he said.

Tough electoral rules laid down by the military forbid parties relying solely on support from any of Nigeria's three main ethnic groups at the expense of the others.

CAMEROON: Editor's sentence upheld

The Supreme Court in Cameroon has rejected the appeal of a newspaper editor against the year-long jail term served on him for a report in March this year that President Paul Biya might have heart problems. An AFP dispatch said the one-year sentence and a fine of CFA 300,000 (Ffr 3,000) had been upheld at a hearing yesterday against Pius Njawe, editor of 'Le Messager'.

After he was sentenced in April, Amnesty International, press freedom groups and some European politicians appealed for Njawe's release, citing his deteriorating health. AFP said the Supreme Court decision came as Njawe faced charges for defamation arising out of corruption allegations he published in an article about a former provincial governor, Marcel Medjo Akono. The Akono suit would be heard on Thursday next week, it said. 'Le Messager' has recently continued to publish a "Prisoner's Notebook" with dispatches he has written on conditions behind bars.

MALI: Slave traders sentenced

Two Malian nationals have been sentenced by a court in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to five years' jail each on slavery charges involving smuggling children from their country into forced labour on plantations in Cote d'Ivoire. The Abidjan daily, 'Fraternite Matin', in a report today, identified the two as Kone Drissa, 59, and Djakaridja Siri, 33. After the hearing on Monday, in which they pleaded not guilty, the two were each fined CFA 200,000 (Ffr 2,000).

"At a time when the abolition of slavery is but a vague memory, these two have made us relive those days," the newspaper said. The court was told that they had been arrested last month in Abidjan with a convoy of vehicles carrying about 60 Malian children aged between 8 and 16. The children had been released into their custody after pledges to their parents that they would be able to earn good money. In May this year, news reports said the Malian government repatriated 247 nationals doing forced plantation labour. They included 72 children, some of whom had been made to work up to 10 hours a day.

GUINEA BISSAU: Portugal sends more aid

The Portuguese government announced yesterday it would be shipping a further 140 mt of aid to Guinea Bissau, AFP reported. The news agency quoted Portugal's secretary of state for foreign affairs, Luis Amado, as saying the aid, which included some 116 mt of food and 11 mt of medicines, would leave Lisbon on 22 September and take about a week to get to Guinea Bissau. Portugal has already provided 600 mt of aid to Guinea Bissau.

WEST AFRICA: Libyan visit

Representatives of five West African nations flew to Tripoli this week for the 29th anniversary of the rise to power of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, news reports said. The heads of state of Chad, Niger, Mali, The Gambia and a high-ranking delegation from Nigeria visited Tripoli by air despite the UN embargo on air travel to the north African nation.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) decided at its annual summit in Burkina Faso this year that member nations would cease to comply with the embargo after 1 September.

Abidjan, 18 September 1998, 17:30 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: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:00:10 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> To: Subject: IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup no 66, 98.9.18 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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