Gambia + 6 more

IRIN Update 483 of events in West Africa

News and Press Release
Originally published
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
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GUINEA: Army hits rebels in Sierra Leone

Guinean soldiers have killed up to 400 Sierra Leonean rebels in a recent cross border retaliatory raid, Guinean Defence Minister Dorank Diasseny has said.

"Our soldiers entered far into their lines, identified the rebel posts and then conducted their punitive operation," he said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday by Radio France International.

Conakry took the action because of repeated Sierra Leonean rebel attacks, mostly on the Guinean villages of Tassin and Mola, close to the Sierra Leone border. Rebels have been attacking villages in search of food, he said. News reports say the rebels kill, burn homes and steal property.

Diasseny identified the rebels as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh, out of which splinter groups had emerged. "We Guineans consider all of them as rebels," he said.

Reacting to this, Sankoh said reports of a RUF splinter were "useless propaganda and lies designed to divert our attention form the process of peace", AFP reported on Wednesday. Sankoh is in Lome, Togo, attending peace talks between the RUF and the Sierra Leone government.

SIERRA LEONE: two sides still in discussion

Peace talks in Lome between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Sierra Leonean government are now making progress after recent difficulties over political issues, IRIN learnt on Thursday.

ECOWAS Chairman Gnassingbe Eyadema, the president of Togo who is mediating between the two sides, urged them to reach an agreement on political issues at stake, news organisations reported on Wednesday.

A key area under discussion is the type of political framework acceptable to both sides. The RUF has demanded that the government agree to a transitional government, while, according to Reuters, the government is opposed to such a deal, terming it a surrender to the RUF.

However, the two sides have agreed to safe and unhindered access to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance and the immediate release of prisoners of war and non-combatants.

Food aid arrives

Meanwhile the Paris based food agency, Action Contre La Faim (ACF), says it has sent some 1,000 mt of food aid to Sierra Leone. Some 500 mt of wheat semolina is already in the agency's Freetown warehouse. Another 175 mt of split peas as well as 315 mt of lentils is in Conakry, Guinea, awaiting shipment to Freetown, an ACF spokesman in Freetown told IRIN on Thursday.

Also, the United States-based relief and development agency, CARE, said in a report on Wednesday it had delivered 800 mt of food to the southern interior of Sierra Leone since 29 April. The food is sufficient to meet the needs of 118,000 internally displaced people for two weeks in the towns of Bo and Moyamba in the Southern Province, CARE said.

NIGERIA: Possible cabinet officers named

Nigeria's Senate has released 49 names awaiting its approval as members of President Olusegun Obasanjo's government, news reports said. Senate President Evans Enwerem said on Wednesday the list, which Obasanjo submitted on Friday, included seven women, former ministers, retired army officers and members of opposition parties. Prominent among the nominees is Theophilus Danjuma, a retired general who served as army chief of staff from 1976-1979 during Obasanjo's military administration.

Army purge begins

Beginning a long-awaited crackdown on the military, Obasanjo has retired 33 ranking officers thought to harbour political ambitions. Among them are former ECOMOG force commanders Lieutenant General Rufus Kupolati, Majors General John Inienger and Timothy Shelpidi, and the former head of the drugs agency, Major General Musa Bamaiyi. So far, 50 senior officers in the air force, army and navy have been retired since Obasanjo was sworn in as president on 29 May. His aides say more dismissals will follow in the lower ranks, AFP reported on Thursday.

List of missing funds released

A list of missing money and ill-gotten property worth at least US $1 billion seized from the family and aides of the late military ruler, General Sani Abacha, has been released by the government, news reports said on Thursday.

Reports cited an official gazette published on Wednesday which shows that the government recovered at least US $760 million from Abacha's family in addition to property in the capital, Abuja, and in Lagos as well as holdings in Sierra Leone refineries valued at US $420,000 Reuters said.

Other seizures running into millions of dollars were made from former security adviser Ismaila Gwarzo, ex Finance Minister Anthony Ani and businessman Azeez Arisekola.

SENEGAL: Rebel leader denies federation plan

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Force for Casamance (MFDC), Abbe Diamacoune Senghor, has dismissed talk of a possible federation between Senegal's troubled Casamance area, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia.

In a statement published on Monday in 'Sud Quotidien', a privately-owned Dakar newspaper, Senghor distanced the MFDC from comments made by Mamadou Nkrumah Sane, the movement's spokesman in Paris, who called for a federation.

"As Secretary-General of the MFDC I would like to say that the MFDC officially disassociates itself from these comments which commit no one but the author," Senghor said.

He reiterated calls for a return to peace in Casamance saying, "The aim of the MFDC today is to unite and meet the government of Senegal around a table to find final peace for Casamance in truth and justice."

A media source in Dakar told IRIN that this was the first time that divisions between separate components of the MFDC had been made public. The source expected Senghor's views to prevail despite his belief that there was a degree of support for a federation within the movement.

MALI: Ruling party wins community polls

The ruling Alliance pour la democratie au Mali (ADEMA) has won community-level elections with 50 percent of the vote in four districts in northern Mali, AFP reported quoting the Ministere de l'administration territoriale. These elections concluded the process of legislative, presidential and municipal polls started two years ago.

Abidjan, 10 June 1999, 19:28 GMT


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