IRIN-West Africa Update 339 for 1998.11.16

IRIN-West Africa Update 339 for 1998.11.16


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa tel: +225 21 73 54 fax: +225 21 63 35 e-mail:

IRIN-WA Update 339 of Events in West Africa (Saturday - Monday 14 - 16 November 1998)

SIERRA LEONE: Rebels kill 16 in northern village

Sierra Leonean rebels killed 16 people and abducted 50 others on Saturday in an attack on Kamaporoto, a village near the northern border with Guinea, news reports said.

Quoting aid workers, Reuters reported on Sunday that the wounded were being taken to Kamakwie hospital, the largest town in northwestern Sierra Leone. Reports said West African ECOMOG troops and militia units had been sent to the village. The UN in Freetown has not been able to confirm the reports.

The report, quoting priests arriving in Freetown, the capital, from Kamakwie, said that the town's 30,000 residents were in panic, fearing a rebel attack similar to one four months ago, when 60 people were killed.

US envoy calls for dialogue to end war

US presidential envoy Jesse Jackson has called on the government in Freetown to hold peace talks with rebels to end the civil war, news reports said at the weekend. "We are appealing to this country to reach out to the rebels in the bush and come to a solution at the bargaining table and not on the battlefield," he told a news conference, according to Reuters.

President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who was also at the news conference, refused to comment on Jackson's appeal. However, his spokesman, Septimus Kaikai, said there would be no talks unless the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and army renegades surrendered, the Sierra Leone News Website reported on Saturday. It said Kaikai also rejected a demand by RUF commander Sam Bockarie that the government negotiate with the imprisoned RUF leader, Foday Sankoh. Sankoh is appealing against his sentence to death for treason.

LIBERIA: Monrovia apologises for US embassy shooting

Liberia has formally apologised to the United States for the shooting by local security forces at the US embassy in Monrovia on 19 September in which two Americans were wounded, news organisations reported at the weekend, quoting Foreign Minister Monie Captan.

Captan said in a statement that the government accepted responsibility for not preventing "armed rebels" from approaching the embassy in September. He said the apology was made to the US State Department on Friday. The Liberian government had previously refused to apologise, denying that its forces deliberately shot into the embassy compound, when former faction leader Roosevelt Johnson took refuge there following a two-day shoot-out between security forces and his supporters.

Rights group agrees to defend 15 on treason trial

Liberia's Centre for Law and Human Rights Education has agreed to represent some of the 32 people charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government free of charge, Star Radio reported on Saturday.

The centre's director, Benedict Sannoh says a two-man legal team will defend the accused. However, he said the centre could not provide "full representation" because of the "complexity" and "political environment" under which the trial was being conducted. Last week, 15 of the 32 accused who appeared in court asked Judge William Metzger to provide them additional lawyers to help their defence attorneys because they could not afford the costs.

Meanwhile, the state prosecution asked the court to turn down the request of some of the defendants, alleging they were solvent and could therefore afford to pay legal costs, the radio said.

Ex-president calls for greater ECOWAS involvement

The last of Liberia's civil war presidents, Ruth Perry, has called for a continued presence of ECOMOG in the country and for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which first sent them there, to ensure the country does not relapse into civil war, PANA reported on Sunday.

In a weekend interview at a conference in Nashville, in the United States, she expressed concern at the continued feuding between supporters of President Charles Taylor and those of his main civil war rival, Roosevelt Johnson.

Perry also told PANA ECOMOG must take charge of restructuring the Liberian army, as laid down in the Abuja peace plan. According to AFP, Taylor has reneged on this aspect of the peace deal, saying that as a sovereign state it was up to the government to reorganise its army. ECOMOG has accused Taylor of recruiting his former faction fighters into the national army.

Taylor reinstates suspended police chief

Meanwhile, Taylor reinstated Police chief Joe Tate today (Monday) after suspending him two weeks ago for "administrative reasons", media reports said. AFP reported Justice Minister Eddington Varmah as saying Tate, Taylor's cousin, had resumed duty after having "fully complied with conditions set for his reinstatement". Varmah did not state these conditions.

Tate had been called before the Senate on contempt charges to answer questions about the alleged beating of a Senate clerk, Tyrone Tarpeh, by members of the police Special Operations Division, which has a reputation for harrassment of civilians, AFP said.

European Commission rehabilitates road

The European Commission (EC) Coordinator in Liberia's Nimba County, David Parker, said that the Gbanquoi-Zekepa highway has been rebuilt in collaboration with local residents in Yarwin-Mehnsonnoh District, in the north of the country, Star Radio reported on Saturday.

Reconstruction of the road makes the district accessible to Sacleapea, from which it has been cut off for nine years. The EC is also building 13 wooden bridges on the Bahn-Butuo road, some 250 km northeast of Monrovia, the radio said. Butuo is where the Liberian civil war started in December 1989 and has been virtually isolated because of bad roads and destroyed bridges. The Ganta-Tappita highway, 210 km east of Monrovia, will also be reactivated this month, the report said.

NIGERIA: Government to reinforce security in Delta

Nigerian military leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar has said he will improve security in the troubled Niger Delta "to forestall the incessant kidnapping of foreign oil workers", AFP reported on Friday.

He did not elaborate on the security plans. However, additional troops have recently been sent to the region and road checkpoints have increased. Abubakar was speaking in Abuja, the capital, on receiving the new Italian ambassador, Giovanni Germano, the agency said. An Italian, Matteo Civardi, is among the eight people abducted last week by militant Ijaw youths in the Delta.

Oil workers "in good health"

Meanwhile, the eight oil workers are in "good health" and negotiators are hopeful of winning their release, AFP reported, quoting a Texaco spokesman today. Negotiators met the eight, including seven expatriate workers, on Friday, the spokesman, Yemi Olatunde, said. He said the hostages were in good health and being kept in "reasonable" conditions in the village of Foropah, close to Warri. Olatunde said: "We hope to find some common ground shortly."

GUINEA BISSAU: ECOMOG commander in Bissau

ECOMOG commander General Timothy Shelpidi met President Joao Bernardo Vieira and rebel leader Ansumane Mane during a visit to Guinea Bissau over the weekend to determine the needs of a West African interposition force to be deployed in the country, media reports said.

Quoting Shelpidi in Banjul, The Gambia, Reuters reported on Sunday that he would assess the troop strength and money needed for the operation. Benin, The Gambia, Niger and Togo have offered troops to the Nigerian-led force. Shelpidi did not say when the troops would arrive.

However, under the peace accord signed 1 November in Abuja, Senegalese and Guinean troops, which backed the Bissau government during the mutiny, will be withdrawn as ECOMOG troops are deployed.

Meanwhile, in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, Foreign Minister Jacques Baudin said his country would withdraw its troops in mid-December on condition that ECOMOG troops were in place. ECOMOG will be deployed along the border with Senegal to prevent Casamance separatists from retreating to rear bases in Guinea Bissau.

BURKINA FASO: Elections peaceful

Voting in Burkina Faso's elections passed off without incident on Sunday despite calls by the main opposition parties to boycott the polls, media reports said.

Reuters said some 4.2 million people were eligible to vote. Results are expected on Wednesday. The incumbent, Blaise Compaore, was opposed in the polls for the first time and looked set to win, the agency said.

GHANA: Jackson arrives in Accra

US Presidential envoy Jesse Jackson urged Ghana on Friday to help neighbouring countries resolve their conflicts. Jackson was on the last leg of a four-nation tour aimed at promoting stability in the region. He met President Jerry Rawlings to discuss security issues.

Abidjan, 16 November 1998, 20:15 gmt


Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 20:23:04 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 339 for 1998.11.16 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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