Côte d'Ivoire + 2 more

IRIN Update 674 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 22-40-4440
Fax: +225 22-40-4435
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

SIERRA LEONE: New torture allegations

Civilians who fled the town of Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone have arrived in the capital Freetown with reports of rebels torturing people there, the BBC reported on Sunday.

They say punishments include stripping people naked and beating them, throwing them into diamond-mining pits and subjecting them to hard labour. The abuses follow an anti-rebel demonstration held in Freetown last weekend organised by people displaced from Kono, the BBC said.

LIBERIA: Acute drug shortage in Lofa

A senior health official in the north Liberian county of Lofa says there is a severe shortage of drugs at many health centres in the region, 'Star' radio reported on Saturday.

Lofa County Health Officer Karson Jallah said the shortages resulted from the withdrawal from Lofa by non-governmental organisations following a rebel incursion in August 1999, and from the fact that lack of transport had prevented government and the National Drug Service from delivering drugs there. He said vehicles assigned to the county health team had been looted during last year's fighting in Lofa between government troops and rebels.

LIBERIA: Peace advocacy group holds elections

The peace advocacy group Media Against Conflict (MAC) held its office-bearers' elections in the capital Monrovia on Friday, Star Radio reported.

Those elected include PANA correspondent Pete Kahler as chairman, editor-in-chief of the 'News' newspaper Joseph Bartua as co-chairman, analyst/editor Ignitius George as secretary-general, and the chief editor of Star radio, Joseph Teh, as assistant secretary-general.

MAC was founded nearly two years ago to promote balanced, accurate and fair reporting of conflicts, Star said.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Election budget set

Cote d'Ivoire's Council of Ministers set a transitional budget on Friday, allocating some FCFA 16 billion (US $24.5 million) to finance elections to be held later this year, the state daily 'Fraternite Matin' reported on Monday.

The military authorities recently announced that presidential, legislative and municipal elections will take place by 31 October, marking a return to democratic rule. Cote d'Ivoire is currently headed by Brigadier General Robert Guei of the Conseil National du Salut Public (CNSP) following a coup on 24 December 1999 which overthrew the former regime of Henri Konan Bedie. The ex-president is now living in France.

WEST AFRICA: Connection of railroads begins June 2003

A project to connect West Africa's railroads is to begin in June 2003 in line with a master plan adopted six years ago, PANA reported on Sunday. The decision was taken at a four-day meeting organised by ECOWAS, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Union of African Railways (UAR).

Donors will be approached this month to fund the feasibility studies for the rail network while preliminary cost estimates and detailed engineering studies are due for completion by February 2001.

The meeting urged West African governments to introduce laws that will make sure the railroads operate on a competitive and commercial basis. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate said railroads in the subregion suffer from "deplorable conditions of lines, inadequacy of fixed installations and signalling equipment, obsolete locomotives as well as difficulties in obtaining spare parts".

The meeting was attended by ECOWAS representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Also present were representatives of the ECOWAS Fund for Cooperation, the ADB, the ECA and the UAR.

WEST AFRICA:: Two West Africans among Iraq monitors

Two West Africans are among 16 commissioners appointed by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq. They are Abigun Ade Abiodun of Nigeria and Senegal's Cheikh Sylla.

The Commissioners will meet regularly to review the implementation of Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and provide professional advice and guidance to the UNMOVIC's Executive Chairman, Hans Blix, including on significant policy decisions and on written reports to be submitted to the Council through the Secretary-General, according to a UN press release.

The other commissioners are Reinhard Böhm (Germany) Ronald Cleminson (Canada), Cong Guang (China), Therese Delpech (France), Robert Einhorn (United States), Yuriy Fedotov (Russian Federation), Kostyantyn Gryshchenko (Ukraine), Gunterio G. Heineken (Argentina), Hannelore Hoppe (UN Department of Disarmament Affairs), Takanori Kazuhara (Japan), Roque Monteleone-Neto (Brazil), Annaswamy Narayana Prasad (India), Marjatta Rautio (Finland) and Paul Schulte (UK).

Abidjan, 13 March 2000; 17:05 GMT

[ENDS]

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