Côte d'Ivoire + 5 more

IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 52 covering the period 24-31 Dec 1999

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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COTE D'IVOIRE: End-of-year coup

Ivoirian President Henri Konan Bedie was overthrown on 24 December and, after seeking refuge at the French military base in Abidjan, fled two days later to Togo, where he was followed on Monday by Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and other senior members of the ousted government.

The coup was condemned by the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)and the governments of many nations, including Nigeria and South Africa, while Canada and the United States suspended aid to Cote d'Ivoire.

Within the country, however, there was widespread support for the coup, and many political parties said they were willing to take up an invitation issued by the all-military Comite national de salut public (CNSP) to participate in a government of national unity to be formed next week.

The country's new military leader, Brigadier General Robert Guei, said the CNSP which he leads would retain the posts of foreign affairs, defence, the interior and security in the new transitional government which, he said, would create the conditions for free and fair elections. However, he mentioned no dates.

By 26 December, life had started returning to normal in Abidjan. A dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on 24 December was lifted on 27 December. The airport also reopened on Monday after being closed for three days. Foreign currency transactions, suspended on Monday, resumed on Thursday.

COTE D'IVOIRE: Former opposition leader returns from exile

Former Ivoirian Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara was welcomed by chanting supporters at the Felix Houphouet Boigny International airport when he returned from exile in France on Wednesday.

Ouattara, who heads the Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR), had been in exile for about three months, during which top members of his party had been imprisoned and a warrant issued for his arrest. All political prisoners have been freed and the warrant annulled by a court following the overthrow of the government of President Henri Konan Bedie in what Ouattara said, was "not a coup d'etat".

"This is a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people," the BBC quoted him as saying. "The previous regime was a dictatorship, so the changes that have taken place have helped to liberate the country and given the prospect to build a democracy."

SIERRA LEONE: Sankoh threatens to block peacekeepers' deployment

The leader of the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), Foday Sankoh, threatened on Wednesday to block any further deployment of ECOMOG and UNAMSIL until certain committees are set up as outlined in the Lome Peace Accord signed in July.

Sankoh handed over the RUFP position paper - addressed to the government, the international community, civil society and moral guarantors of the Lome Peace Accord - at a news conference in Freetown. He said the RUFP's stance was based on the non-functioning of a Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (CMC) and a Joint Monitoring Commission (JMC).

"The RUFP will not allow any further deployment of ECOMOG and UNAMSIL officials until the JMC and CMC are set up to function in accordance with the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement," Sankoh said.

In response, the UN Security Council on Wednesday urged all parties to the Lome agreement to honour their obligations and agreed that recent threats by Sankoh to stop cooperating with UNAMSIL "in certain respects" were unacceptable, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) reported.

The UNAMSIL Force Commander, Major General Vijay Kumar Jetley paid a courtesy call on Sankoh on Tuesday to discuss the deployment and mandate of UNAMSIL troops, DPI reported.

SIERRA LEONE: Security Council on extra deployments

Members of the UN Security Council said that it was necessary to avoid any "security vacuum" after the withdrawal of Nigerian troops early next year, the UN Department of Public Information reported on Wednesday.

The Security Council also discussed the changes that would be necessary "to the mandate and to the strength" of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) when Nigeria withdraws from the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in February 2000.

The UN Secretary-General, in a letter to the president of the Security Council on 23 December, voiced concern that the situation in Sierra Leone continued to "pose a threat to peace and security in the region". He recommended that UNAMSIL be expanded from its current authorised 6,000 military personnel to some 10,000.

SIERRA LEONE: Bockarie says he will stay in Liberia

Former Revolutionary United Front (RUF) field commander Sam Bockarie was reported as saying on Monday that he would stay in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, until after elections in Sierra Leone, according to information posted on Tuesday on the Sierra Leone news web site.

SIERRA LEONE: RUF says Golley no longer its spokesman

Omrie Golley is no longer RUF spokesman, legal representative or roaming ambassador, Sierra Leone News (SLN) web site reported an RUF news release as saying on Tuesday. Gibril Massaquoi, special assistant to RUF leader Foday Sankoh, was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that Golley had been sacked for "collecting monies on behalf of the RUF".

SIERRA LEONE: World Bank approves credit for reintegration

The World Bank has approved a US $25-million loan for the Sierra Leone government's efforts to help reintegrate former combatants and rebuild the country's social and economic infrastructure, the bank said in a news release on Wednesday.

GUINEA-BISSAU: UN reports progress in transition to democracy

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has reported progress in the transition to democracy in Guinea-Bissau following last month's presidential and legislative elections, according to his latest report to the Security Council.

In his 23 December report, Annan described the elections as "an important step forward in the ongoing transition to democracy and the restoration of peace and normalcy".

No clear winner emerged from among 12 candidates who contested the 28 November presidential election. As a result, the formation of a new government is not expected before February, following a second round of voting scheduled for 16 January.

Meanwhile, the mandate of the UN Peace Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) has been extended by three months to 31 March 2000, Annan reported.

SENEGAL: Government agrees to free all pro-rebel detainees

The Senegalese government and insurgents have agreed that all detained rebels would be released, hostilities would be ended immediately and the free movement of people and goods allowed in the Casamance, southern Senegal, Banjul's 'Daily Observer' newspaper reported on Tuesday.

This was contained in the final communique of a 26-27 December meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, between the Senegalese government and the Mouvement des forces democratiques de Casamance (MFDC). The meeting marked the beginning of direct talks to end 17 years of civil war.

Both sides agreed to hold talks on the 15th day of each month except January, when they will meet on the 24th because the second round of the presidential elections in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau is to be held on 16 January.

NIGERIA: Lake Chad flood leaves 25,000 homeless

Rising waters in Lake Chad following the heaviest rains in central Africa for at least 30 years have left an estimated 25,000 people homeless in northern Nigeria, Reuters reported, quoting a local official on Monday.

GUINEA: World Bank loan to help rural population

The World Bank has approved a US $19-million credit to help Guinea's government Capacity Building for Service Delivery Programme, a 12-year plan aimed at improving the ability of public agencies to respond effectively to the needs of the rural population, according to a news release last Wednesday.

WEST AFRICA: ECOWAS sets up code of conduct on arms

West African states will now have to seek permission from their collective economic grouping, ECOWAS, before importing light weapons in the subregion for peacekeeping, hunting, training or sporting activities, the United Nations said on Monday

This is one of the provisions of a Code of Conduct the leaders agreed to in their two-day Lome summit that ended on 10 December, centering on conflict prevention, resolution and management. The edict constitutes a waiver for countries wishing to import arms during a moratorium on small weapons imports, exports and manufacture.

Abidjan, 30 December 1999; 18:05 GMT


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Item: irin-english-2217

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