Chad + 6 more

IRIN Update 648 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

LIBERIA: Four soldiers sentenced to 10 years in jail

A military court has sentenced four soldiers to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour after a trial lasting more than one year, Star radio reported. Five others were released.

The accused were arrested for sedition in connection with fighting which broke out in September 1998 in Monrovia between presidential security forces and fighters loyal to former warlord Roosevelt Johnson.

Johnson, Taylor's enemy during Liberia's seven-year civil war, found refuge in the US Embassy before being airlifted on a US military helicopter to Sierra Leone, from where he went to Nigeria.

LIBERIA: UNDP commends Taylor's commitment to peace

Liberians and the international community expect to see "peace becoming a stronger reality every day" in Liberia, according to a senior UNDP official.

Speaking at a news conference during a two-day visit to Monrovia earlier this week UNDP Associate Administrator Zephirin Diabre commended President Charles Taylor and the Liberian government for their "strong commitment to peace and security in the country and the subregion", according to a UNDP source in Monrovia.

During a meeting with Taylor, UNDP was "highly commended by the President for the relevance and quality of assistance it is providing for Liberia's reconstruction and recovery efforts," the source told IRIN.

Diabre said UNDP was ready to advocate that countries emerging from conflict such as Liberia should be given special treatment with regard to debt forgiveness, according to the source. He said donors were keen on the efficient management of resources provided and on accountability and transparency and called for patience as good governance is a "process that cannot be achieved in one day", the source added.

Diabre was part of a mission which included senior representatives from the World Bank and UNHCR. Other countries on the mission's itinerary included Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Star radio in Monrovia quoted the World Bank's vice president for External Affairs, Mats Karlssen, as saying that the delegation was in the country to further discuss ways of ending monopoly and fighting corruption in government.

SENEGAL: Former Chadian leader under house arrest

Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre was placed under house arrest on Thursday in Dakar, Senegal, after a court charged him with perpetrating torture and other abuses during his eight-year rule.

However, Investigating Judge Demba Kandji rejected charges of crimes against humanity filed against Habre by nine Chadians and a coalition of local and international human rights bodies.

The Chadians said they represented hundreds of their compatriots who died during Habre's rule. They filed charges on 25 January, accusing him of 97 political killings, 142 cases of torture and 100 disappearances - the missionary news agency, Misna, reported.

"He is a victim of political machinations with international ramifications," the state-owned 'Le Soleil' daily on Friday reported Madicke Niang, Habre's lawyer, as saying. "In the next few days the entire world will be aware of these machinations."

This is the first time a former African head of state has been indicted in another state for human rights crimes.

Judge Kandji ordered Habre, who has been living in exile in Senegal since his overthrow by Idriss Deby in December 1990, to surrender his passport and other travel documents to the gendarmerie.

COTE D'IVOIRE: World Bank wants repayment by mid-February

The World Bank will suspend loans to Cote d'Ivoire if it does not repay by mid-February US $17 million that it was to have given back to the multilateral institution by mid-December, according to a memorandum the bank sent on Wednesday to the authorities in Abidjan. "We are not putting pressure on the government," a World Bank official in Abidjan told IRIN. "We are just informing them what the rules are."

WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA: Child trafficking conference

A sub-regional consultation on child trafficking will take place from 22-24 February in Libreville, Gabon, according to UNICEF.

The meeting on 'Developing strategies on the trafficking of children for exploitative labour purposes in West and Central Africa' is being organised by UNICEF and ILO in collaboration with the government of Gabon.

Benin,Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana. Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo are expected to participate.

The consultation is a follow-up to a workshop on 'Trafficking in child domestic workers, in particular girls in domestic service in West and Central Africa', held in July 1998 in Cotonou, Benin.

AFRICA: Sahelo-Saharan summit

Eliminating the growing tension between Eritrea and Djibouti is high on the agenda of a 4-5 February summit of the Community of Sahelian and Saharan States (COMESSA) in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, news reports said.

Djibouti has accused Asmara of trying to destabilise the Horn of Africa while Eritrea has charged that Djibouti is siding with Ethiopia in its war against Eritrea, AFP reported. Eritrea and Djibouti broke off diplomatic relations in November 1998, six months after the start of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border war.

The eight COMESSA heads are also expected to discuss economic matters affecting the group, formed in 1998 at the initiative of Libya, and to try to harmonise their political positions at international fora such as the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations, AFP reported. The free movement of capital and people within the community was also expected to be discussed.

Members of COMESSA are Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, Niger and Sudan. Djibouti is seeking membership.

AFRICA: Workshop on assessing Children's Summit goals ends

Demographers, statisticians, planning experts and programme coordinators from West and Central Africa on Friday ended a five-day workshop in Abidjan on evaluating progress made since the 1990 World Summit on Children (WSC).

The aims of the workshop, organised by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), included helping countries prepare surveys for gauging the attainment of objectives adopted at the summit.

The workshop, to be followed by others in various regions of the world, is part of a series of activities leading up to a special session of the UN General Assembly in the third quarter of 2001 at which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will present a report on progress worldwide towards the attainment of WSC goals.

The Abidjan workshop was attended by delegates from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoro Islands, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome e Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Abidjan, 4 February 2000; 19:00 GMT

[ENDS]

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