Liberia + 2 more

IRIN Update 678 of events in West Africa

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U N I T E D N A T I O N S
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 22-40-4440
Fax: +225 22-40-4435
e-mail: irin-wa@irin.ci

SIERRA LEONE: Britain gives more money to DDR programme

Britain has pledged another 5.5 million pounds sterling (US $8.5 million) for the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration programme (DDR) following a recent visit by Clare Short, the secretary of state for international development, a spokesman at the British High Commission in Freetown told IRIN on Friday.

Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) has been funding an emergency response team involved in setting up and servicing the five demobilisation centres at Lungi, Port Loko South, Port Loko North, Kenema and Daru. Another two centres are being built in the northern towns of Makeni and Magburaka.

Sites have been identified for two more in Gondama (Bo District) and Levuma (Moyamba District) in the south, the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) reported on 10 March.

The pledge by the UK government brings its total support to the DDR programme to some 14 million pounds, the spokesman said.

NIGERIA: Tough task awaits new NEPA board

The performance of Nigeria's state-owned National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) has been abysmally low in the last few months, with Lagos experiencing a power failure every 15 minutes. President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday sacked the utility's management and announced a new nine-member board that must now find a way out of the morass.

[See separate item titled 'NIGERIA: Trying to get a grip on power']

NIGERIA: Clashes over land near Port Harcourt

Violence flared up on Wednesday between the Okrika and Eleme communities near Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria's Rivers State, in connection with a land dispute, media organisations reported.

The police confirmed one death but unofficial sources said six people had died, while several buildings were st on fire, 'The Guardian' reported. The disputed land is near the Port Harcourt Refining Company.

Roads in the area were blocked and vehicles searched by youths of the feuding communities, but a special police unit has been sent to the area to maintain order, the newspaper said.

NIGERIA: More violence in southwest

A fresh outbreak of fighting between rival communities in South-west Nigeria is reported to have left up to 25 people dead in the past few days, media organisations reported.

More than 60 people are now believed to have died in clashes over the past two weeks between the Modakeke and Ife communities, about 230 km northeast of Lagos.

The authorities have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and deployed riot police to the two communities but shooting continued on Thursday and houses were still being burned, AFP reported.

Ife and Modakeke leaders were scheduled to meet government officials on Friday to discuss ways of ending the violence, which was sparked by a longstanding land dispute.

LIBERIA: Chorus of condemnations follows radios' closure

Liberian media, the US government and international press freedom advocates have lambasted the decision by President Charles Taylor's government to close Star Radio and Radio Veritas, Liberia's two independent radio stations.

'The News' and the 'Inquirer', two private daily newspapers in Monrovia, printed their front pages black in protest at the closure, announced on Wednesday, and the Press Union of Liberia described the government's move as "outrageous, most unfortunate and disturbing".

The US State Department said the closure was "an unacceptable infringement on freedom of speech and freedom of the press," and called for the stations to be reopened, as did Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF)

[See separate item titled 'LIBERIA: Closure of independent radios slammed']

AFRICA: OAU urged to set up disaster management commission

A Ghanaian parliamentarian has asked the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to establish a disaster management commission that would pool talents and resources from different African countries for their mutual benefit, PANA reported on Thursday.

Hackman Owusu-Agyemang said the recent events in Mozambique and Madagascar had shown that "in spite of weather forecasts which predicted the natural disaster, the continent seems to have been caught most unprepared for it," PANA reported.

He called on the OAU to consider setting up the commission quickly to ensure that Africa is not "caught by surprise next time".

Abidjan, 17 March 2000; 15:11 GMT

[ENDS]

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