Sierra Leone + 5 more

IRIN Update 654 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

SIERRA LEONE: Koroma threatened, government cracks down on rebels

A threat on the life of the leader of Sierra Leone's former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) junta has led to a government crackdown on rebels, Information Minister Julius Spencer told IRIN on Monday.

"There was a threat made on Johnny Paul Koroma. He reported the matter and four suspects were arrested initially," Spencer said. He added the security forces were conducting an intensive search for other rebel dissidents.

According to news reports, seven former Sierra Leonean Army (ex-SLA) soldiers, members of the old national force that supported the 1997-1998 AFRC junta, have been detained by the authorities on suspicion of threatening to kill Koroma, who chairs a state body called the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace.

Meanwhile, Koroma said at the weekend on state radio that he wanted to "warn all AFRC/SLA personnel who had former combatants as bodyguards to cut down their number to two". Reuters reported him as saying that any extra bodyguards would be redeployed and anyone who failed to comply would be arrested.

SIERRA LEONE: NCDDR tells ex-SLA combatants not to claim salaries

The National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) has warned former Sierra Leone Army (ex-SLA) combatants not to claim salaries from defence headquarters or any other military establishment. Should they do so, they would face the "full force of the authorities," the NCDDR said in a news release on Thursday.

Some ex-combatants who have been through DDR have tried to claim money from the army to which they are not entitled. "Former members of the SLA who have been through the demobilisation programme can claim any retirement benefits they are due, but not salaries," the NCDDR statement said, adding that they were also entitled to reintegration support from NCDDR.

The records of those who have entered the DDR programme will be checked against any claim so as to prevent fraud, the news release said.

LIBERIA: About 400 AFL to be discharged

Some 400 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) will be discharged soon, Star radio reported.

The independent Liberian radio station reported Defence Minister Daniel Chea as saying that many of the soldiers were harassing civilians and that others had been absent without leave.

Chea reportedly said the soldiers' behaviour was damaging the army's reputation among the civilian population and that this action had been taken to safeguard the image of the AFL.

Meanwhile, President Charles Taylor said his government was committed to restructuring the AFL. According to Star, Taylor said US $1 million had been allocated for the restructuring.

NIGER: Supporters of assassinated president demand investigation

Several hundred people marched into Niamey, Niger's capital, on Saturday to demand an international enquiry into the assassination of former head of state, General Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported.

Mainassara was gunned down on 9 April 1999 in a coup organised by members of his presidential guard. The demonstrators also denounced a law passed on 6 January 2000 granting amnesty to the coup perpetrators.

NIGER: Military governors replaced by civilians

The authorities in Niger on Friday replaced the country's eight military administrators with civilians, AFP reported. The former administrators were appointed by the military junta that seized power in April 1999. Elected President Mamadou Tandja was sworn in on 22 December.

MALI: Thirty-six million FF in French aid

The French Minister for Cooperation and Francophonie, Charles Josselin, ended a four-day trip to Mali on Sunday "to the satisfaction of both parties," AFP reported an official source in Bamako as saying.

Josselin and his Malian counterparts on Saturday signed three aid agreements amounting to some 36 million FF (US $5 million) in the areas of book publishing, health, and reform of the financial administration sector, AFP reported.

BURKINA FASO: Aviation agreement signed with United States

Burkina Faso and the United States established a formal aviation relationship on 10 February by signing an Open Skies Agreement after two days of talks, according to US Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

Open Skies agreements permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of each country to, from and beyond the other's territory, eliminating restrictions on how often carriers can fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they can charge.

"Efficient air transportation is essential to achieving economic growth and development on the (African) continent, and we are very pleased that Burkina Faso shares this perspective," Slater said.

The agreement, the first of its kind between the United States and a West African country, follows earlier ones with Namibia and Tanzania. Discussions on new aviation agreements are also ongoing with Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal, according to a US Department of Transportation news release.

CHAD: Rebel groups form military, political alliance

Three Chadian rebel groups have entered into a political and military alliance, RFI reported on Friday. The Mouvement pour l'unite et la republique, formerly the armed wing of the Mouvement pour le developpement et la democratie, has teamed up with ex-minister Youssouf Togoimi's Mouvement pour la democratie et la justice au Tchad (MJDT) and the Conseil democratique et revolutionnaire, led by Acheikh Ibn Oumar, RFI said.

Abidjan, 14 February 2000; 18:05 GMT

[ENDS]

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