IRIN-West Africa Update 347 for 1998.11.26

IRIN-West Africa Update 347 for 1998.11.26


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

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IRIN-WA Update 347 of Events in West Africa (Thursday 26 November)

NIGER: Niamey gets US $15.49 million ADB loan

The African Development Fund (ADF), a unit of the African Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of 11 million units of account (about US $15.49 million) for Niger to revamp its public finance bodies, the Abidjan-based institution said in a statement made available to IRIN today (Thursday).

The ADF said the 50-year loan, which carries a service charge of 0.75 percent with a 10-year grace period, should help Niger achieve GDP growth of 4.5 percent per annum. The loan will also allow Niger, a landlocked Sahelian country, to fight poverty and improve the skills of its people.

WEST AFRICA: France ready to support African force

France is ready to provide logistics support for a West African interposition force for Guinea Bissau according to the country's deputy chief of staff. "Talks are already under way for us to play a role in this force," General Jean-Paul Raffenne told Reuters in Paris yesterday (Wednesday).

Raffenne added that Paris had enough equipment stockpiled in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, for a battalion. The equipment includes 100 vehicles, of which a dozen are armoured cars. It is now the preferred French policy to support African troops in peacekeeping operations rather than use French troops. Rafenne said other stockpiles of equipment would be established in Gabon next year.

Deployment of a West African force in Guinea Bissau was one of the elements of a peace accord signed on 1 November in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, by the parties to Guinea Bissau's civil war.

Reuters quoted the secretary-general of the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS), which is to deploy the intervention force, as saying at a news conference that Africa still needed Europe's help. "We hope France will support us in this case," Lansana Kouyate, the ECOWAS secretary-general, said in Paris yesterday.

He was speaking ahead of the Franco-African summit which begins on Friday in the French capital. The two-day meeting will bring together the leaders of some 49 countries and their representatives.

GUINEA BISSAU: West Africans pledge troops for peacekeeping

Niger, Togo, Benin and the Gambia pledged today 1,450 troops to a peacekeeping force for Guinea-Bissau, according to a Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) statement quoted by Reuters. The force will be under the control of the ECOMOG field commander, General Timothy Shelpidi. The ECOWAS statement said Niger and Togo would each contribute 500 soldiers to the force, while Benin would send 300 and the Gambia 150.

The ECOMOG force would keep the two belligerent parties apart and guarantee security along the border with Senegal which sent troops to support the President of Guinea Bissau Joao Bernardo Vieira. Fighting broke out on 7 June between pro-government forces and the former army chief General Ansumane Mane, charged with gun-smuggling to the separatist province of Casamance in Senegal.

West African countries agreed to send troops to Guinea Bissau after a peace deal between warring parties was signed in the Nigerian capital, Abuja on November 1.

GHANA: Rawlings opposes multiple conflict management bodies

President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana has told US Congressmen, Donald Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Tom Campbell, a Republican from California who are visiting Ghana, he opposes the creation of parallel conflict management bodies in Africa, PANA reported on today.

Shortly after the US created an African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) under which troops from some African countries are given special training and prepared to move into strife-torn areas, France came up with a similar mechanism on crisis management, especially in West Africa.

NIGERIA: Fuel prices to rise

The authorities in Nigeria said traditional rulers have advocated a rise in fuel prices to help resolve shortages on the domestic market, news organisations reported yesterday. Mohammed Haruna, a spokesman for the military government, said there was consensus among chiefs who met Nigerian leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar to "deregulate the pricing system of fuel" which would solve the crisis. AFP quoted Haruna as saying that the Nigerian government had yet to take a decision on the issue because it was very "touchy and still open to debate". A government petroleum adviser, Aret Adams, said prices would have to rise soon and warned Nigerians to prepare themselves for a hike.

The last price hike in 1994 triggered a round of demonstrations in big cities in Nigeria. Some industry analysts have argued that the low price of Nigerian fuel compared to prices in neighbouring countries have encouraged smuggling thereby limiting domestic supply, sources close to the oil industry told IRIN today.

Ijaws leave oil flow stations

A spokesman for the Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell, told IRIN today that Ijaw youths ended yesterday the occupation of all oil flow stations, but for one in the southeastern delta area of Nigeria. He said the Ijaws were itinerant fishermen and lived across the delta, from the eastern city of Port Harcourt to Warri, 250 km southeast of Lagos. However in each state the Ijaws were considered a minority. Consequently, the Ijaws have felt marginalised and left out of local government politics. The spokesman added that the Ijaws' concerns about the unequal distribution of wealth from the vast oil exploitation in the region, were mirrored by other ethnic groups. The Ijaws seized Shell oil flow stations in an attempt to force the Nigerian government to examine and address their grievances, he added.

Shell said it lost 250,000 barrels a day over a four-week period. Its daily production is 900,000 barrels a day.

LIBERIA: Carter Center to launch human rights and media campaign

The US-based Carter Center in Monrovia will launch a new campaign on human rights and the media to support building strong democratic institutions in Liberia, Star Radio reported today, quoting a press release. It said the Center would work with both government and civil organisations to help local Liberian institutions to respect human rights and promote democracy. The project would also train the media in the roles and responsibilities of a free press in a bid to improve relations between the government and the media.

Abidjan, 26 November, 1988 17:45 GMT


Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 18:03:56 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 347 for 1998.11.26

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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