Cabo Verde + 3 more

IRIN Update 680 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 22-40-4440
Fax: +225 22-40-4435

LIBERIA: Media protest radios' closure

Liberia's independent media have decided to boycott government functions until Friday in protest at the closure of two independent radio stations, a media source in Monrovia told IRIN.

"No news from the president's office and from government ministries will be reported," the source told IRIN. "The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) will review the situation at the weekend."

On Monday, the privately-owned 'Inquirer', 'News' and 'Democrat' newspapers were off the newstands while a third independent radio station, DC 101.1 FM, was off the air.

[See separate item titled 'LIBERIA: Media boycott government news']

SIERRA LEONE: National security policy workshop

A two-day workshop began on Tuesday at the British Council in Freetown to discuss national security policy, according to the presidential spokesman, Septimus Kaikai.

The workshop, attended by representatives from the UN, diplomatic community, West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, government and civil society, aims to discuss what national security policy should entail given the current economic, social, and political needs of the country, Kaikai said. It is hoped that a policy statement will be issued at the end of the workshop, Kaikai added.

SIERRA LEONE: Electoral commission

An independent electoral commission has been created in Sierra Leone to ensure that all preparations are made for elections earmarked for 2001, presidential spokesman Septimus Kaikai told IRIN on Tuesday. The commission, whose five members were approved by parliament, was sworn in on Monday by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and is headed by a retired police inspector general, Walter Nicol.

[See separate item titled 'Sierra Leone: Electoral commission sworn in']

SIERRA LEONE: Kenyan peacekeeping commander replaced

The commander of the Kenyan UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone has been recalled and replaced, a source at the public information office of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) told IRIN on Tuesday.

The recall of Colonel Francis Musumbu on 27 February was "a routine changeover" following a visit by the Kenyan Chief of Staff to Sierra Leone, the source said. On Sunday the Kenyan newspaper, 'East Africa Standard,' quoted an unnamed source as saying that Musumbu was recalled for alleged "poor handling of the situation and putting the Kenyan forces at risk", following the recent disarming of the Kenyans by Sierra Leonean rebels.

Musumbu has been replaced by Colonel Ngoni, UNAMSIL said.

CAPE VERDE: Opposition leader to step down

Cape Verdean opposition leader Pedro Pires will give up the presidency of his partido Africano da Independencia do Cabo Verde [African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde - PAICV)] in an extraordinary congress set for 16-18 June, a party spokesman announced on Monday in Praia, the capital.

The Portuguese news agency, LUSA, reports that there has been speculation that the move could be a preparatory step for Pires, a leading figure in the struggle Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau waged jointly for independence from Portugal, to run for president in elections due in 2001.

SAO TOME e PRINCIPE: Public sector strike

A five-day strike launched on Monday by public sector workers in Sao Tome e Principe to press for an increase in the minimum wage from 40,000 to 350,000 dobras has had limited success, a humanitarian source in the archipelago told IRIN on Tuesday.

[The dobra exchanges at about 7,500 to the US dollar.]

Workers in sectors such as the Water and Electricity Company, Postal services, and the Telecommunications Company turned out to work, the source said. While the Intersindical, the trade union negotiating body, said 80 percent of workers had gone on strike, the government put the percentage at 30.

The government has been proposing a minimum wage of 120,000 dobras.

[See separate item titled 'SAO TOME e PRINCIPE: Government workers go on five-day strike']

AFRICA: Human rights defenders meet in Côte d'Ivoire

Amnesty International's (AI) African chapters meet in Grand Bassam, some 40 km east of the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, from Wednesday to Saturday to discuss human rights issues in Africa and elsewhere.

Among the topics they will discuss is the role of AIs newly-formed "ECOWAS group", set up to lobby the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) secretariat and member states on human rights issues, including education and torture.

AI said the participants would also present their ideas on how to strengthen ties with NGOs in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region in promoting respect for human rights.

A major area of discussion will be the proliferation of weapons in Africa. Delegates will discuss ways to halt the trade in arms and other military and police equipment which, AI said, "are used to kill, maim and torture thousands of men, women and children in Africa each year".

Abidjan, 21 March 2000; 17:45 GMT


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