IRIN Update 628 of events in West Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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GUINEA-BISSAU: Parliament sticks to poll date
Guinea-Bissau's national assembly says a run-off presidential poll pitting Kumba Yala against interim President Malam Sanha will go ahead as planned on 16 January despite a request for a week-long delay, news reports and humanitarian sources have said.
The assembly rejected an appeal by Yala's Partido da Renovacao Social (PRS) that the elections be held 23 January, to give it time to organise and fund its campaign, Reuters reported.
A humanitarian source told IRIN on Friday that Yala was undergoing medical care in Portugal but was due to return to Bissau on Sunday.
Yala won the first round on 28 November with 38.81 percent of the votes. Sanha, the runner up, polled 23.37 percent. In legislative polls, run simultaneously with the first round of the presidentials, the Partido da Renovacao Social (PRS) won 38 of the 102 seats in the assembly, followed by the Resistencia da Guine-Bissau (RGB) with 29.
GUINEA-BISSAU: Between 50 and 70 prisoners released
Authorities in Guinea-Bissau have, over the past 10 days, released between 50 and 70 people imprisoned after Vieira's ouster, a humanitarian source told IRIN on Friday.
Among those freed is Manecas Santos, a businessman and close associate of Vieira and of the late Amilcar Cabral, architect of the country's war of independence.
However Vieira's former spokesman, Ciprino Cassama, and former Agriculture Minister Avito Jose da Silva are among the 250-270 people still in prison. The source told IRIN that Vieira's defence minister, Samba Lamin Mane, was also among them and is now in hospital with cancer. He might be evacuated to Portugal for treatment, the source said.
CHAD: Good prospects for off-season agriculture
Chad can expect a healthy crop of market garden produce due to two successive years of abundant rains, the US Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) says in its Bulletin of 29 December, 1999.
The national Office of Agricultural Statistics estimates that Chad will produce 136,000 mt of sorghum, up from 133,000 mt in the 1998/99 season, FEWS reports. Good harvests are also expected for okra, in January, onions and garlic, in February-March, and fish.
However, FEWS says, the rains have also encouraged the proliferation of flies, which are harmful to livestock, along the Chari and Logone rivers and the southern shores of Lake Chad. As a result, FEWS says, the country's Office of Livestock Husbandry and Animal Resources has reported heavy losses of sheep and goats in these areas - up to 90 percent in some villages around Djermaya, some 40 km north of Ndjamena.
"Livestock owners in fly-infested areas are losing income normally generated by the sale of milk and other animal products," FEWS said, adding however: "The situation has started to improve as conditions become drier."
COTE D'IVOIRE: Government dispels rumours of unrest
Cote d'Ivoire's new head, Brigadier General Robert Guei, on Thursday toured military barracks around Abidjan and sought to dispel rumours of unrest in the armed forces which, media organisations reported, led some businesses to close early on Thursday.
In a communique published in Friday's issue of the official 'Fraternite Matin' daily, Guei said the National Public Salvation Council, which he heads, had heard persistent rumours that could trouble public order but that "these rumours are totally groundless".
"Consequently we invite the population to be extremely vigilant and to put its trust in the Comite National de Salut Public".
AFRICA: Special focus of UN Security Council in January
Africa will figure high on the agenda of the UN Security Council this month, starting on Monday with a discussion of the impact of AIDS on peace and security in the continent.
The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on Thursday that the session would mark the first time Council had met specifically to discuss a health issue.
Monday's session will be chaired by Al Gore, also marking the first time a US vice president will have taken part in a Council meeting. Annan will give a speech during which he will, the UN said, "suggest that the Council's role in the battle against AIDS must be to prevent conflict contributing to the spread of the disease".
According to UNAIDS, which has termed the impact of AIDS in Africa as "catastrophic", one quarter of the continent's people have been personally affected by pandemic that is "wiping out all development gains" achieved over decades.
SIERRA LEONE: Renewed interest in Freetown's hotels
Plans are underway to renovate the Mamy Yoko and the Bintumani, two of Freetown's top hotels, with a view to reducing the shortage of hotel accommodation in the Sierra Leone capital, according to media reports.
The 'Philadelphia Enquirer', a US daily, reported that Roger Crooks, manager of the Mamy Yoko, was planning to reopen the first floor of the hotel by the end of January. "There's going to be substantial demand," the newspaper quoted Crooks as saying. "The demand is here. And this is peaceful compared to how it was."
Sources in Freetown told IRIN on Friday that rents had increased during the past six months and that they were expected to keep rising with the ongoing arrival of UN peacekeepers.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone government and the Beijing Urban Construction Group Company signed a 25-year lease agreement on Thursday under which the company will run the Bintumani Hotel, AFP reported.
Both hotels have been in disuse since sustaining extensive damage when rebels invaded Freetown in May 1997.
NIGERIA: Arrests made following Ibadan clashes
About 10 people have been arrested in connection with bloody clashes on Wednesday in Ibadan, some 120 km north of Lagos, in which some 10 people were reportedly killed 'The Guardian' quotes a police official as saying.
The clashes erupted between Yorubas and Hausas, Nigeria's largest ethnic groups, after seven Yorubas were reportedly killed in a road accident between a vehicle driven by a Hausa and two Yoruba-owned buses.
Abidjan, 7 January 2000; 17:30 GMT
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