Côte d'Ivoire + 3 more

IRIN Update 637 of events in West Africa

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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa
Tel: +225 20 21 73 54
Fax: +225 20 21 63 35
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

COTE D'IVOIRE: UN envoy on mission to urge return to democracy

UN envoy Ibrahima Fall, on a mission to encourage an early return to constitutional rule in Cote d'Ivoire, met representatives of civil society and heads of UN agencies on Thursday.

Fall, who is the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, met military ruler General Robert Guei on Wednesday and was due to receive representatives of all political parties during his visit.

A UN spokeswoman in Abidjan told IRIN Fall would meet Guei again on Friday before leaving.

COTE D'IVOIRE: EU seeks consultations

The European Union said on Tuesday that it would seek consultations with the military government on its plans to set a date for democratic elections. An EU spokesman in Abidjan told IRIN on Thursday that existing aid to Cote d'Ivoire was continuing but decisions on any new projects would be made after elections.

However, speaking at an African economic summit in Libreville on Monday, IMF Director General Michel Camdessus said Cote d'Ivoire would first have to "put its house in order" and reestablish democracy for a resumption of international financial aid.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Belgium postpones royal trade mission

Meanwhile, a planned trade mission led by Belgium's crown prince has been postponed because of the coup, the Belgian Embassy in Abidjan said on Thursday.

The trade mission, due to have taken place from 20-23 February, involved some 100 business representatives. A date will be set once a new government is in place, the embassy said.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Guei briefs auditors

General Robert Guei promised to support officials carrying out an audit of the country's finances, local media reported.

The spokesman for the state inspectors, Yed Esaie, said that the military ruling council, the Conseil National de Salut Public (CNSP), had also offered its support. On 25 December, the day after seizing power, Guei said, "We have come to sweep the house clean." Then, he ordered a thorough audit of the country's finances.

SIERRA LEONE: Parliament passes anti-corruption law

Sierra Leone's parliament passed an anti-corruption law on Wednesday that provides for a special office with wide-ranging powers of investigation, Reuters reported.

Citing the government's official gazette Reuters said the office, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, would investigate "instances of alleged or suspected corruption referred to it by any person or authority, or which may have come to its attention".

While welcoming the law as an important tool in President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's crusade against corruption, the chairman of the Inter-religious Council of Sierra Leone, the Reverend Alimamy Koroma, told IRIN on Thursday the government should go further.

"We want in-built monitoring devices in any operation that is carried out and in government departments," he said.

The bureau will be headed by a commissioner and a deputy, both to be appointed by the president, subject to parliamentary approval. President Kabbah has on numerous occasions pledged to uproot corruption, which was one of the reasons Foday Sankoh gave for starting his rebellion in 1991.

WESTERN SAHARA: Morocco unhappy with UN vote identification

Morocco has said it is disappointed by the list of potential voters issued by the UN on Monday for those seeking to take part in the proposed referendum on independence for Western Sahara or its incorporation into Morocco, Reuters reported.

Government spokesman Khalid Alioua said on Tuesday that Morocco was "unhappy and disappointed" by the list.

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) which reviewed 51,220 members of the last three ethnic groupings who presented themselves last year, found that 2,130 were eligible to vote, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Monday in New York.

The Moroccan government, through Alioua's statement, said that these new eligible voters represented 4 percent of the applications presented to the UN identification mission, according to Reuters. These figures brings to 86,381 the number of eligible voters the UN has identified from the initial 147,000 applicants.

Meanwhile, the Identification Commission began hearing appeals from disqualified voters this week at 14 centres in Morocco, the territory of Western Sahara, Mauritania and refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.

The referendum, first due in 1992, has been postponed repeatedly on difference between Morocco and the Sharawi over voter eligibility. The currently appeal processes could, the UN has said, push back the referendum beyond 2002.

NIGERIA: Scores die in road accident

At least 25 people died on Wednesday when a bus lost control and rammed into an oil tanker across a busy Lagos highway in one of the city's worst accidents on record, 'The Guardian' newspaper reported. AFP said up to 40 were killed.

The bus - heading to the city neighbourhood of Mushin from Ijora - suffered a brake failure, skidded across the eight-lane Western Avenue then smashed into the oncoming tanker and the Abalti Barracks. The impact tore away an 15 metre-long section off the barrack fence.

"What could have been an inferno from the impact with the fuel tanker was immediately prevented by fire fighting men from Reverend Nwake Barracks," 'The Guardian reported.

Traffic wardens and soldiers joined the rescue effort, with scores of injured taken to the nearby Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

GUINEA-BISSAU: Vegetable seed distribution complete

Distribution of vegetable seeds (among them tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, beans), which began October 1999 was completed in January, OCHA says in its latest situation report on the country.

In the report (covering 19 December 1999 - 15 January 2000) OCHA says 25,995 villagers nationwide received approximately 2,800 kg of seeds under the project managed by the FAO with help from NGOs.

In another FAO supported project, the Ministry of Agriculture is trying to wipe out parasites in the regions of Oio and Quinara. Additional vaccinations are set to begin on Tuesday.

During the same period, distribution of machetes, hoes, buckets and pesticides for agriculture will be made to 22,265 beneficiaries in 407 villages throughout the country.

Health and Education

The country's dire health and education sectors continue to degrade even after the 11-month war which disrupted external development aid.

"Several bi-lateral donors have suspended aid, causing delays in rehabilitation and reconstruction," OCHA says.

It recalls a recent visit by the IMF which pleaded for timely donor support to rebuild health and educational facilities. The Swedish cooperation agency, SIDA, is providing US $783,400 to the national public health laboratory and US $860,000 to education sector projects.

Health

A convoy of medical supplies and health workers from the Spanish NGO, Medicos Solidarios de Catalu=B1a, arrived in Bissau on 14 January.

The "III Convoy Humanitario a Africa Occidental - Dakar 2000", which left Barcelona the first week of January, was organized to coincide with the Dakar-Cairo motor rally.

The convoy brought medical supplies to Mauritania, Senegal, and The Gambia before arriving in Guinea-Bissau, where it donated equipment to the hospital in Bissau, Bubaque (an island on the Bijagos archipelago) and a health clinic in Ingore, some 60 km north of Bissau.

The CoopÚration Fran=FEaise donated medicines worth 60 million CFA francs (approx. US $92,000) to the Ministry of Health on 29 December 1999. The medicine is to be distributed to hospitals and health centres throughout the country.

Yet, there remains concern at the lack of distribution of medicines to the interior of the country. According to the Director of Pharmacies, no distribution to the interior has been carried out since June 1999.

Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC) is supporting nutritional and health centres in Gabu, about 150 km east of Bissau. Another Italian NGO, Comunit=DF de Santo Egidio is to begin rehabilitation of the Raoul Follereau tuberculosis hospital, in Bissau. However, the area must first be certified free of unexploded ordnance before work begins.

For its part, UNICEF has received emergency project funds to restore the water supply and sanitation systems of the Sim=D2o Mendes Hospital in Bissau.

Education

The Ministry of Education has identified priorities for the school year as the need to ensure that classes proceed as usual in Bissau, that teachers who left during the conflict return home, and that schools damaged during the war are rehabilitated. In many areas of Bissau, OCHA says, students lost one year of classes due to the successive rounds of fighting.

Relief

The Guinea-Bissau British Trust for Development Promotion and Support has been established in London to seek funds for Guinea-Bissau nationals resident in Britain and to help channel funds to development projects in their home country.

Abidjan, 20 January 2000; 18:50 GMT

[ENDS]

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