Côte d'Ivoire + 5 more

IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 47 covering the period 20 - 26 Nov 1999

News and Press Release
Originally published
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

NIGERIA: Troop deployment to Bayelsa

Government troops sent to Bayelsa State last weekend are there to halt the growing lawlessness, protect residents of the area and not to make war, presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said on Tuesday on state television.

"The security forces," he said, "were deployed to the area under the control of the state governor, who is the chief security officer of the state, primarily to ensure the enforcement of law and order, the speedy return of normalcy and peace."

Governor Diepreye Alameyeseigha said on television on Monday that the presence of soldiers in Odi, Koluma, Okokuma local government areas of the state was to arrest the killers of 12 policemen two weeks ago.

Local and foreign critics have demanded that the 5,000 troops in Bayelsa State be withdrawn immediately and law enforcement duties given to the police. However, Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma has said they would go when the killers are arrested. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the 2nd Amphibious Brigade conducting the operation, Captain John Agim, told AFP that "about a dozen" civilians had been killed in the action. He denied, however, that the army had destroyed Odi.

"People are saying we have shelled Odi, flattened it. It is just not true," AFP quoted him as saying.

NIGERIA: US $50 million emergency fund voted for Delta

Frustrated by the slow pace of national assembly approval for development of the Niger Delta, the federal government approved on Tuesday at least US $50 million in emergency funds to the troubled south-east, news reports said, quoting presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe.

"The situation, the degradation, the suffering, the pains that exist in the Niger Delta are such that one will not wait," he said in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

Therefore, the government will immediately begin construction of roads in the impoverished Bayelsa State, link the state to the national electricity grid and establish a technical training school for youths in the Delta oil town of Bonny, Rivers State.

NIGERIA: President meets oil executives on Delta crisis

In another measure to pacify and develop the Delta, a meeting convened by President Olusegun Obasanjo decided on Monday that governors of oil producing states and key players in the oil industry must meet every month to review efforts to build the area quickly.

State owned Nigerian Television Authority reported that the decision was taken on Monday at the end of a meeting Obasanjo held with senior government officials, principal officers of the national assembly, his party officials and oil company executives.

The Niger Delta produces 95 percent of the country's oil wealth but remains one of its poorest regions.

NIGERIA: Police assert control after Yoruba, Hausa clash in Lagos

Under orders to shoot criminals on sight, police in Lagos reasserted control in troubled parts of Lagos on Friday at the end of a second day of violence between Yoruba and Hausa traders, and halted a looting spree by hoodlums, according to news reports.

"We cannot allow this country to be taken over by hoodlums and criminals," President Olusegun Obasanjo said on nationwide television on Thursday.

Obasanjo said that 27 bodies had been counted but news reports on Friday afternoon said that the death toll could reach 50.
The Hausa and the Yoruba are the two largest and most politically powerful groups in Nigeria. At least 100 people died when they last clashed in July in Shagamu, in the southwest and in Kano, the biggest city in Muslim northern Nigeria.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Red Cross helps displaced

At least 9,000 displaced persons have received emergency aid from the international and Ivorian Red Cross societies in recent weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva said on Thursday.

The displaced passed through four sites set up in the Bas-Cavally region in the south-west of the country since 6 November, the deputy head of the Regional Delegation of the ICRC in Abidjan, Pierre Townsend, told IRIN on Friday. Three are in Tabou and one in Grabo, the main cities in the region.

Thousands of Burkinabes were displaced with members of the Ivorien Kru ethnic group in a dispute over land rights.

SIERRA LEONE: RUF to become a political party

The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) started on Monday the process of transforming itself from a guerrilla force into a political party known as the RUF Party (RUFP), ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Olukolade told IRIN.

Shortly after midday, the country's Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) granted RUF provisional registration as a party. The RUF's transformation is in line with a provision in the Lome Peace Accord signed on 7 July by the government and rebels. The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone, Francis Okelo, has welcomed the move.

However, the RUF's erstwhile ally, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), said on Thursday it had disassociated itself from the RUF Party, AFP reported. There has been fighting recently between units of both groups in parts of the north.

SIERRA LEONE: Insecurity in Kabala area

A one-day UN humanitarian mission went to Kabala, some 220 km north of Freetown, on Tuesday, to report on the situation there and make recommendations on a future course of action, HACU said.

Insecurity continues to grow in the Kabala area where RUF rebels continue to push former Sierra Leone Army soldiers (ex-SLA) from their bases in the north, HACU reported. Many of these soldiers are now in Kabala and have surrendered their weapons to loyal SLA troops while others remain on the outskirts of town and have been responsible for looting, HACU said.
Fighting in the region between Makeni and Kabala has resulted in the movement of 1,000 civilians north into Kabala, it added.

A high incidence of abduction, looting, rape and physical attacks against civilians has been reported this month in the Kabala region, the spokesman for the Secretary-General said on Tuesday.

SENEGAL: Government raised US $1.9 for flood victims

Senegal has so far raised 1.2 billion francs (about US $ 1.9 million) for the tens of thousands of people made homeless by rain-caused floods in the country this year, an official heading a committee monitoring national disasters told IRIN on Tuesday.

The official, Colonel Mamadou Dione, said the committee needed some 3.2 billion CFA (about US $5.04 million) to care for the 23,400 homeless.

Worst hit was the north of the country along the Senegal River valley. An official in the governor's office in the northern city of St. Louis, Momodou Mustapha, told IRIN that 1,200 people were displaced by the flooding and 50,000 suffered property losses.

LIBERIA: Polio campaign launched

A campaign to sensitise the public about polio eradication was launched on Sunday in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, the National Coordinator of the National Immunisation Days (NIDs) told IRIN. The official, Dr Abebu Hiedala, said on Tuesday vaccination will take place over two days each month: January through March year 2000.

All children under the age of five are targeted and some 700,000 are expected to have received the vaccine by end March. In 1988 the World Health Assembly established a target to eradicate polio worldwide by the year 2000.

WESTERN SAHARA: UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner to go on five-day mission

UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Soren Jessen-Petersen leaves on Saturday for a five-day visit to the Western Sahara area for talks on the repatriation of some 100,000 Sahrawis, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva. Jessen-Petersen will visit Tindouf and the capitals of Algeria, Morocco and Western Sahara. UNHCR is responsible for the repatriation of the refugees in the Tindouf camps, in Algeria.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Nation votes for democracy on Sunday

Few dispute the fact that the main issues now in Guinea-Bissau include lasting peace and stability, observers say, but there is less consensus on the identity of the person the 500,000 voters will choose on Sunday to steer their nation on a peaceful, stable course.

"Whichever party wins," the leader of the Frente da Liberacao da Guine (FLING), Catengul Mendy, told IRIN, "stability is a point on which there should be a consensus."

Representatives of political parties said they had registered no significant incidents of violence during the election campaign that ends today.

Guinea-Bissau and its 1.2 million people have had to live with instability for much of its recent past. A liberation war started in 1963 ended in independence in 1974. Six years later, in 1980, President Luis Cabral was overthrown by Joao Bernardo Vieira, who survived two alleged coup attempts before the bulk of the armed forces, grouped under the self-styled Military Junta, rose up against him on 7 June 1998.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Epidemiological unit sustains heavy damage

The Ministry of Health's epidemiological unit sustained heavy damage during the war, losing essential equipment and databases, OCHA quotes the first monthly bulletin produced by the Ministry of Health as saying.

An early detection system against epidemics was set up in June 1999 but only 8 percent of health clinics nationwide have used the forms designed to notify the unit of outbreaks of disease. Lack of transport to send laboratory samples has also been identified as a "major problem", OCHA says.

The French government has provided computers valued at 15 million francs CFA (US $23,571) to support the unit.

AFRICA: Mechanism to monitor good governance set up

A mechanism designed to monitor and promote good governance in Africa, called the African Observatory on Governance, was established on Wednesday at the end of a three-day conference in Abidjan.

Its task is to develop a composite indicator of governance, Achi Atsain, president of the West African Economic Association, said at a news conference. Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan added that the Observatory would promote mutual help among African countries and facilitate rational use of all the continent's resources.

Abidjan, 26 November 1999; 20:12 GMT


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Item: irin-english-2055

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