Gambia + 3 more

IRIN Update 634 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35

THE GAMBIA: Suspected coup plotters arrested

Gambian security forces have arrested an undisclosed number of soldiers suspected of plotting to overthrow the government, a news source told IRIN, quoting the secretary of state for the interior.

This follows the arrest on Saturday of the suspected mastermind of the alleged plot, Lieutenant Landing Sanneh, commander of the presidential guard. Sanneh was wounded and overwhelmed in a brief gun battle with agents at his suburban home.

His alleged co-conspirator, Lieutenant Almamo Manneh, was killed in a highway gunfight on the same day while resisting arrest, The Gambian Department of State for the Interior said. Manneh was an ordnance and logistics officer under Sanneh's command.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Unofficial results for Bissau give Yala lead

Unofficial provisional results for Sunday's run-off presidential election in Guinea-Bissau showed opposition leader Kumba Yala of the Partido da Renovacao Social (PRS) ahead of interim President Malam Sanha by three votes to one, Lusa reported on Monday.

The results, which were for the capital, Bissau, gave Yala more than 63,000 ballots to some 20,000 for Sanha, the news agency said. It said official results for the capital were expected on Monday evening at a news conference given by the country's electoral commission.

"I am confident I will beat my opponent," Yala said during voting on Sunday which, according to Reuters, started peacefully with witnesses describing the turnout in Bissau as "massive".

Electoral chief Higino Cardoso told reporters that despite logistical problems which forced polling to continue on Monday, he was satisfied with the organisation of the runoff. He said final results would probably be known on 22 January.

The first round, on 28 November 1999, was won by Yala with 38.81 percent of the votes. Sanha, candidate of the Partido Africano da Independencia da Guinea e Cabo Verde, which led Guinea-Bissau to independence from Portugal, was second with 23.37 percent.

SIERRA LEONE: Government presents child rights report

The Committee on the Rights of the Child on Thursday urged Sierra Leone's government to harmonise its legislation to bring it in line with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and to do more to reduce discrimination against women and girls.

All 191 states party to the CRC are required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on their efforts to implement the treaty. In the first report it has ever presented to the Committee, Sierra Leone's government said the war had displaced some 690,000 children under the age of 18. Of these, 145,000 were of primary school age and almost 70 percent of them were outside the school system.

Substance abuse had increased dramatically due to the war, according to the report, which said abducted children were encouraged to take drugs and forced to fight and perform manual labour. The government has now taken measures against people growing cannabis and making it available to children, it said.

According to UNICEF, about 5,000 children, some of them as young as five years old, are estimated to have been involved in the conflict in Sierra Leone. Fifty-five percent of the 4,000 children reported missing are documented cases of abduction. In 1999, only 801 children were released by rebel forces, according to UNICEF.

CHILDREN: Protocol against recruitment of child soldiers

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, urged states on Friday in Geneva to support new legislation that would prevent children under 18 from being recruited into the armed forces.

Speaking to the UN working group mandated with drafting an optional protocol to the CRC, Robinson said the addition of the protocol would send a "strong signal" from the international community on the issue of child soldiers.

"I have witnessed the effects of armed conflict on children in various parts of the world to which I have travelled," Robinson, who was in Sierra Leone in June 1999, said. "I now appeal to you to take the necessary measures to ensure that no child has to suffer again in this manner."

Robinson also said national legislation should not be presented as an obstacle to new, more advanced international standards.

NIGERIA: Extra funds for the fight against malaria

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the release of 100 million naira (US $1.01 million) for the hosting of a summit in April in Abuja of African heads of government on Operation roll-back Malaria, 'The Guardian' reported on Monday.

The Operation is an initiative led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) aimed at curbing malaria.

Nigerian Health Minister Tim Menakaya inaugurated at the weekend a national steering committee on the summit, for which the government has earmarked a total of 400 million naira, the newspaper said.

NIGERIA: Police arrest scores of OPC members

Police in Lagos arrested scores of suspected members of the militant Oodua People's Congress (OPC) at the weekend, police sources told journalists on Sunday.

The arrests, made at a market on the outskirts of Lagos, were linked to efforts to find the killers of a police superintendent, 'The Guardian' newspaper reported. The leader of an OPC faction, Ganiyu Adams, was declared wanted in connection with the superintendent's killing and a reward offered for information leading to his capture.

Abidjan, 17 January 2000; 18:00 GMT


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