IRIN-West Africa update No 355 for 1998.12.08

IRIN-West Africa update No 355 for 1998.12.08


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

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IRIN-WA Update 355 of Events in West Africa (Tuesday 8 December)

NIGERIA: PDP party keeps lead in new results

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) kept its lead over eight rivals by gaining control of about 60 percent of the local councils in Nigeria where elections were held on Saturday, news agencies reported today (Tuesday). After 690 of the 774 local councils declared their results, Reuters reported that the All People's Party (APP) came second, followed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD). The PDP is headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo. Reuters said the PDP appeared to have won its greatest victory in the northern state of Niger, from where Nigerian leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar and former head of state Ibrahim Babangida come. Final results would be announced later in the month after election run-offs were held.

Radio station Africa No. 1 reported yesterday (Monday) that Obasanjo's aides were disappointed by his very poor performance in the southwest, the heart of Yorubaland, adding that his inability to emerge as a winner in his home region was a concern. There are reports that the PDP leadership might consider other candidates such as Alex Ekwueme, a former vice-president of Nigeria or General Ike Nwachukwu, a former minister.

US Commerce Secretary William Daley said yesterday Nigeria was making good progress towards becoming a trusted trade partner, a USIA press release said. "Yesterday's peaceful local elections were significant," he said calling them "the clearest sign yet of Nigeria's determination to open up the political process". US business would "be waiting and watching Nigeria in the months ahead" to see if reforms continue to take hold, Daley added.

Electoral teams rate polls as free and fair

Two electoral monitoring teams, the Nigerian-based Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI), rated the local elections in Nigeria as generally credible.

The TMG report received by IRIN today said it had deployed more than 1,000 observers to monitor the elections nationwide and "noted some serious administrative lapses by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its preparation for the elections". It pointed to the lack of electoral material in certain polling booths, insufficient training of electoral officials, lateness of officials, lack of civic education and privacy in the voting, and the security situation. But despite the lapses, the elections were "credible" and the voter turnout was "reasonably impressive". TMG is a coalition of 44 Nigerian human rights groups. IRI issued a preliminary statement saying that: "In the areas observed by the IRI observers teams, the elections were peaceful, voters were enthusiastic, efforts were made to observe election rules and procedures, and the tabulation of votes was consistent with a transparent vote". However, it cautioned that improvements had to be made for forthcoming state elections the next step on the way to the transition to civilian rule.

GABON: Observers said poll "free and fair"

The Gabonese government newspaper 'L'Union', quoted by AFP, said today incumbent President Omar Bongo of Gabon had won the first round of Sunday's presidential elections. But AFP and other sources said the results announced on radio and television were too partial to determine a winner at this stage. The provisional results show Bongo leading with more than 60 percent in six districts in Libreville. But all results have to be confirmed by the electoral commission and it is unclear when it will officially announce the outcome.

The Paris-based organisation Francophonie said in a statement received by IRIN that the elections had been held in a calm atmosphere and the Gabonese people had showed their political "maturity". It nevertheless noted some irregularities. An international group monitoring the elections, the Groupe d'Etudes et de Recherche pour la democratie et le developpement en Afrique (GERDDES-Afrique), quoted by AFP, said the elections must be considered "free, fair and open". The group noted some shortcomings during the electoral process and recommended "improvements to the electoral roll and better training for election officials".

GUINEA BISSAU: Former leader ready to return home

Luis Cabral, the first president of Guinea Bissau, has said he is ready to return home but only after the man who deposed him in 1980 cedes power, AFP reported yesterday.

In an interview published in the Lisbon daily `24 Horas', Cabral said he feared for his life because President Joao Bernardo Vieira, who overthrew him, had said he could not guarantee Cabral's safety. Cabral's return was suggested by Guinea Bissau's new prime minister, Francisco Fadul, in an interview published on Saturday by the independent Portuguese weekly, `Expresso'.

Luis Cabral, 67, and his assassinated brother Amilcar, were the founders of the Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) which fought a war of independence against Portugal.

WFP begins chartered passenger flights to Bissau

World Food Programme chartered passenger flights are now operating between the capitals of Senegal and Guinea Bissau, the UN agency said in a weekly report received by IRIN today.

WFP said it had contracted Aeroservice, a Dakar based company, to make the twice-weekly runs: Dakar (Senegal)/Bafata/Bissau/Bafata (Guinea Bissau)/Dakar. WFP said the service would benefit UN agencies, NGO's and donors. WFP prepares the passenger manifest and issues plane tickets.

Humanitarian actions

WFP said that on 28 November it submitted two projects for the 1999 Emergency Appeal for food aid to Guineas Bissau's IDPs and vulnerable population, and for regional aircraft support of humanitarian operations. The project for emergency food aid will cover the IDP population from January through March, the agency said. Vulnerable groups, primary school children and poor families will get food for work.

In a related development, the agency said UNICEF had agreed to give 114 MT of humanitarian rations for WFP's pilot primary school canteens. WFP will also provide 100g of bread per school child through local bakeries using already donated flour. WFP has chosen three schools in Bafata, the country's second largest town, to initiate the project. It is asking the ICRC and UNHCR to support the effort by providing cooking pots.

Refugees in Guinea

WFP said it will help feed almost 10,000 Guinea Bissau refugees in the neighbouring state of Guinea. The refugees are in the locations of Boke, Sabsale, Koumbia, Foulamori and Sareboido, the agency said. It said that in a visit to these areas in Guinea between 24 and 27 October, a joint WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF and IFRC delegation recommended that the refugees and returnees be regrouped in two major camps around Boke and Gaoual (Koumbia).

EU's Bonino to visit Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone

Emma Bonino, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, will visit Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone early in January, her spokesman in Brussels told IRIN today. The dates for the visit have still to be finalised, Pietro Petrucci said. He said Bonino would fly to Dakar, Senegal, where she would pick up one of the regular flights run by the EU's humanitarian aid arm ECHO to Bissau. The main object of the visit was to boost the peace process. The commissioner wanted to encourage the two sides to respect the humanitarian aspects of the Abuja accord which ended the fighting in Guinea Bissau, he added. She would visit refugees in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

EU/ACP: EU aid should be results-oriented, report says

The European Union's development aid to African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states must be results-oriented if it is to help meet OECD development targets and in particular the aim of halving by 2015 the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. This is the conclusion of an evaluation report (Evaluation of European Union Aid (Managed by the Commission) to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries published at the end of November. The report, commissioned by EU development cooperation ministers in June 1995, says EU aid should focus on "a small number of clear objectives which should be the bottom line for aid organisations". The aid should focus on strengthening institutions and policies and donors should coordinate their action with each acting on its particular strengths. Transparency and accountability were essential to the proper monitoring of results, to improve operations and win greater public support the report said.

The full report and an executive summary can be found on the website of the European Commission's humanitarian aid directorate (DG08): http://europa/eu/int/comm/dg08/index_en.htm The full report is under The executive summary is:

UNITED NATIONS: UNICEF focuses on education as "fundamental right"

UNICEF today launched its annual `State of the World's Children' report focusing on the urgent need to secure the "fundamental human right" of quality education for every child. UNICEF Executive Directo the bottom line for aid organisations". The aid should focf primary school age in developing countries, including 73 million girls, were growing up without access to basic education. Nearly a billion people, two-thirds of them women, will enter the 21st century unable to read, the report warned. "The world can no longer afford such an enormous waste of human potential," it said.

UNICEF called for the political will to expand the education revolution - in danger of stalling due to a dearth of resources in the developing world - to encompass high-quality learning and a child rights approach. The goal is `Education For All', in which accessible, gender-sensitive schooling, where the State is a key partner, provides the foundation for "learning for life". The report stresses that: "education is one of the best investments a country can make in order to prosper." (The `State of the World's Children 1999' report is available on UNICEF's web site at

AFRICA: IFAD approves US $10 million to fight desertification

The International Fund for Agricultural Development has approved a grant of US $10 million to fight desert encroachment, PANA reported yesterday. The news agency quoted IFAD Director Brahman Mansuri as announcing the grant to 30 parliamentarians from different countries attending the Dakar conference on desertification. IFAD also pledged to set aside at least 40 percent of its aid to regions covered by the convention to combat desertification.

WEST AFRICA: WFP chief visits Burkina Faso

WFP executive director Catherine Bertini, on a three-day inspection tour of Burkina Faso, is due to leave for Sierra Leone on Wednesday, an official of the agency told IRIN today.

In Burkina Faso, she met Prime Minister Desire Ouedraogo and with Foreign Minister Ablasse Ouedraogo inaugurated the regional WFP office for the Sahel in Ouagadougou, the capital. She is also due to meet President Blaise Compaore later today after visiting WFP projects for the poor in the province of Sammatenga. Since 1964, WFP has pumped US $128 million into development and emergency help to the country.

In the Sahel, WFP aids the poorest areas and those most susceptible to food scarcity, notably in the central and southeast plateaux. WFP aid generally goes to education, health and rural development.

UNITED NATIONS: New Associate Administrator for UNDP

Former Burkina Faso Finance Minister Zephirin Diabre was appointed today as the Associate Director of UNDP, the UN said in a statement in New York. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Diabre "represents a new generation of African leaders with strong management skills as well as development and political experience." Diabre, currently economic adviser to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, will replace Rafeeudin Ahmed, who is retiring, in mid-January.

LIBERIA: Timber companies to rehabilitate roads and bridges

Representatives of logging companies operating in Liberia agreed to rehabilitate roads and bridges around the country during a three-hour meeting with the Liberian president, Charles Taylor, Independent Monrovia-based Star Radio reported today. Taylor named the ministers of public works and rural development as well as a representative of the Forestry Development Authority to sit on a coordinating committee on road repairs. The first phase would consist of building bridges made out of "ekke", a local but rare variety of wood.

In a related development, the Liberian government established a commission on environmental protection to deal with nature conservation, sustainable management and the exploitation of natural resources, Star Radio reported.

Abidjan, 8 December 1998 17:15 GMT


Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 17:54:35 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa update No 355 for 1998.12.08

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,