Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ivory Coast Secession Movement? -- Ex-Guinean PM Facing Coup Plot Charges

Guinea's opposition leader Sidya Touré has been charged with plotting to overthrow the government of Gen. Lansana Conté, according to his lawyer. Touré was detained on Monday and freed on bail. The BBC reports: Last week, Security Minister Moussa Sampil announced on national television that members of Mr Toure's Union of Republican Forces (UFR) party had discussed killing Mr Conte and dissolving the country's government at a meeting on 10 March. Touré, who was Conté's prime minister from 1996-98, denied any knowledge of a plot to assassinate the dictator.

Sudan's strongman paid a visit to his country's troubled western province . Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir travelled to Darfur, where a United Nations' team is investigating claims of that government sponsored militias are engaging in ethnic cleansing against the region's black residents. The UN says more than 10,000 people have been killed and more than one million displaced during the conflict in Darfur.

Troubling news from a troubled land. The BBC reports that the Ivory Coast's rebels are mulling secession. On a tour of the north of Ivory Coast, the leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, has announced a range of measures to restore normality in the territory under New Force control. In particular Mr Soro has called for the creation of New Forces police and customs officers. Some say that is the first step towards the north declaring its independence. Though Soro insists this is not an option for the short term. This is something for the xenophobic young thugs, er "young patriots," loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo to consider.

Kenya's Daily Nation calls on the country's NARC government to recover cash Nigeria way. The paper editorializes that If Narc leaders claim they were not party to [embezzlement], they must initiate processes by which to repatriate that money. Let them take a leaf from President Olusegun Obasanjo's relentless pressure on the Swiss to return Nigeria's wealth.

The Ghanaian Chronicle reported on efforts by the Togolese government to revamp the country's press laws. The Togo press code of 1998 which was passed by the country's multi-party parliament had representatives from Togo's traditional opposition parties. It was considered quite liberal and did not recommend prison terms as part of sanction for erring journalists who fell foul of the laws. But the fresh amendments adopted by the Togo National House of Assembly on September 3, 2002 were considered "draconian" by many media and human rights organisations including the London - based Amnesty International and the French Reporters Without Borders. The current laws recommend harsh terms of one to five years in case of defamation of the President. "This initiative of the government is laudable.When journalists are involved in making laws for the press, it will be difficult for them to turn round and break them," observed Lucien Messan, editor of the indepenent Le Combat.

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