30 November: In a 5:00 a.m. ceremony at Lungi International Airport, Sierra Leone government and United Nations officials welcomed a contingent of some 130 Kenyan troops who arrived in Freetown at 9:30 Monday night to join the U.N. peacekeeping force. "Your presence in West Africa...symbolizes the unity of Africa and its commitment to peace," outgoing U.N. Special Representative to Sierra Leone Francis Okelo told the Kenyans as the blue and white United Nations flag was handed over. He added that the soldiers' arrival marked a new high point in U.N. support for the consolidation of peace and stability in Sierra Leone. Okelo said he expected the peacekeepers would soon be deployed in the northern towns of Makeni and Magburaka. "There is no provision...for a pullout in case anyone is killed or wounded," Okelo said. "The U.N. force will stay in Sierra Leone until the Security Council decides otherwise, and until its mandate is fulfilled." The commander of the Kenyan contingent, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Musumba, said the remainder of the 820-strong Kenyan battalion would follow on Saturday. An Indian battalion is expected to arrive next week. The Associated Press (AP) noted the absence of RUFP leaders from the welcoming ceremony. While no reason was given, the AP quoted RUFP leader and CMMRD Chairman Foday Sankoh as accusing the peacekeeping troops earlier this week of living "on blood money," adding: "It's up to the Sierra Leoneans to solve their own problems."
There has been a "surge" in the number of former combatants who have registered at Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) camps since RUFP leader and CMMRD Chairman Foday Sankoh talked to his men, according to a United Nations statement issued on Tuesday. "Former combatants who have now disarmed include 1,342 from the RUF, 494 from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and 515 from the Civil Defense Force," the statement said. In a BBC interview broadcast on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Septimus Kaikai expressed optimism about the disarmament process. "The rebels have been disarming," he told the BBC Network Africa programme. "In the beginning it was a very slow start, but that picked up quite a bit this past weekend. The information I have clearly indicates that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,800 people have been disarmed, with a significant number of weapons. If that trend should continue — were talking about the 15th of December deadline for the disarmament of these people — one can speculate very easily that well be able to disarm if not all, but a significant, significant number of them." Kaikai addressed reports carried by the BBC on Monday and Tuesday that RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie was objecting to his troops being disarmed by ECOMOG soldiers, or by former ECOMOG soldiers who would be absorbed into the United Nations peacekeeping force. "Well, what we know is that he has made it known to us and to his leadership over and over again that (Bockarie) is working with Corporal Foday Sankoh and that he takes orders from him," Kaikai said. "That being the case, Foday Sankoh has asked all of his people to disarm. I would believe they would follow suit. You see Sam Bockarie is a Sierra Leonean. I believe he has the best interests of this country at heart. At least I hope so. He has seen that this country has been destroyed, quite a bit. Hes very much aware of that. I believe that taking cognizance of the fact that so much destruction has been done to this country, both psychologically and materially, that he would try — and I believe he will try — to do what is in the best interests of everybody in this country and that is to participate in the disarmament programme. We believe he will do that."
About 700 people arrived at the Guinea border on Monday, reportedly fleeing from rebel attacks in northwestern Sierra Leone, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. According to the BBC, hundreds of people have attempted to flee to Guinea following rebel attacks near the border. BBC correspondent Sylvester Rogers, in a report broadcast on Tuesday, said rebels clashed with Ghanaian ECOMOG troops Monday night during a raid on the town of Madina. "According to civilians fleeing from the area, RUF rebels launched their attack at around 10:20 last night, killing one Ghanaian ECOMOG soldier in Madina Village, 3 kilometres from Pepel Island," Rogers said. "An undisclosed number of people, including children, were reportedly abducted by the rebels... When they arrived at the Ghana-ECOMOG barracks at Madina, the RUF soldiers were told to return to their positions. They refused and then opened fire indiscriminately, killing one of the Ghanaian troops instantly." Rogers said the Ghanaians then launched a counter-offensive, killing four rebel fighters. He noted that the clash marked the first time the Ghanaian had been involved in military action. "Residents of Madina were awoken this morning by the sound of sporadic gunfire and were forced to flee when the rebels began setting fire to buildings," Rogers said. "One trader who returned from the area this morning reported that hundreds of people have already fled from Madina. The rebels are said to have threatened to return to the town and cause more destruction." Rogers also cited reports from Kambia District where, he said, fighting had continued for a fifth day between RUF fighters and Guinean ECOMOG troops. "One member of the Special Security Division is reported to have died, whilst the town of [Mapotolo] is said to have been burned to the ground," he said.
The London-based human rights group Amnesty International expressed concern Tuesday over the increase in "deliberate and arbitrary killings, rape and abductions of civilians" in Sierra Leone over the past three months. "Former rebel leaders now in political office must exert their influence over their former fighters and urge them to end their attacks on civilians," Amnesty said in a press release. Amnesty noted that the scale of human rights abuses had declined significantly following the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord in July, but said the previous pattern of deliberate terrorizing and intimidation of civilians had re-emerged, particularly in Northern Province. The human rights group pointed out that while the peace agreement provided a blanket amnesty for all acts committed during the country's eight-year civil war, including gross human rights abuses, the amnesty did not cover atrocities committed since the signing of the agreement. "It must be made clear to rebel combatants that they will be held accountable for continuing human rights abuses," the Amnesty International statement said. "Those responsible must be identified and brought to justice." Amnesty also pointed out that some 2,000 children — 60 percent of them girls — remained missing following the rebel attack on Freetown in January. "Almost without exception, women and girls have been raped or subjected to other forms of sexual abuse," Amnesty said. "Former rebel leaders must insist that their combatants immediately release all captured civilians, including women and children. Failure to do so is a blatant violation of the peace agreement." Amnesty International also called for the United Nations peacekeeping force about to be deployed in Sierra Leone to "be trained in international human rights and humanitarian law and take all possible measures to protect civilians from human rights abuses."
700 exiled Sierra Leonean soldiers and their dependants are to leave Liberia for Sierra Leone this week, Sierra Leone's Ambassador to Liberia, Dr. Kemoh Salia Gbao, told Liberia's Star Radio on Tuesday. He said the soldiers would depart in two groups on Wednesday and Friday. 400 would travel to Kenema and Daru by road, while the rest would be repatriated to Freetown by sea, he said. The ambassador said 150 soldiers and dependants left for Sierra Leone last week.
The British government has donated nearly $400,000 worth of broadcast equipment for the government-owned Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), Liberia's Star Radio reported on Tuesday. The equipment, which included an outside broadcast van and a public address system, was handed over to Information Minister Dr. Julius Spencer by British High Commissioner Peter Penfold.
29 November: An advance team of nine Kenyan civilian staff officers and civilian administrators was in Freetown on Monday, but an expected contingent of some 130 Kenyan troops for the United Nations peacekeeping force again failed to arrive from Nairobi. According to the Associated Press, government and U.N. officials who had been waiting at Lungi International Airport since morning returned to Freetown Monday evening by helicopter. No reason was given for the Kenyans' failure to show up, but logistical reasons were cited last Thursday when the contingent was initially due to arrive. According to BBC West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle, some of the equipment did in fact reach Freetown from Abidjan on Wednesday evening. "A huge Antonov cargo plane was sitting on the airport's tarmac this morning. It arrived yesterday afternoon with some generators and other logistical supplies, and a handful of the Kenyan staff officers also came," Doyle told the BBC Focus on Africa programme. On October 22, the U.N. Security Council authorised up to 6,000 peacekeeping troops for Sierra Leone, with just over half of that number to be contributed by ECOWAS countries. Many of those are expected initially to be ECOMOG soldiers who will simply don the blue helmets of the U.N. force. The balance of the force will come from other countries, primarily Kenya and India. According to Doyle, the Kenyans will set up a temporary transit base at Lungi. "The Kenyan lieutenant colonel, who is here as an advance officer, as it were, tells me that they will be deploying to the northern towns of Makeni and Magburaka," he said. "This Kenyan colonel told me that he had been to Makeni in the last couple of days. He met with the RUF commander who apparently controls Makeni [Brigadier Issa Sesay], and he said that he had a cup of tea with him, and that the commander said that his troops were welcome." The UNAMSIL peacekeeping force will be commanded by an Indian general, Vijay Kumar Jetley, who is expected to be seconded by a Nigerian officer. A Ghanaian will reportedly fill the position of Chief Military Observer, replacing Brigadier-General Subhash Chand Joshi, who commanded the United Nations Military Observer Force in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL).
BBC Bo correspondent Prince Brima alleged on Monday that the RUF field commander, Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie, last week "held a series of meetings with his commanders in which he gave an order they should not allow any ECOMOG or U.N. military troops to disarm them." He also alleged an RUF military buildup in Kailahun District. His gave his source as "people who have been escaping from the area," and there has been no independent confirmation of the report.
Schools and the local market in Kabala have reopened, Makeni Bishop George Biguzzi told the Rome-based Missionary Services News Agency (MISNA) on Monday after reaching the city by helicopter. Biguzzi visited a hospital operated by the French medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), the Catholic Mission, and a displaced camp on the outskirts of town.
28 November: 900 RUF rebel troops have surrendered their weapons in Port Loko District over the past 72 hours, the Rome-based Missionary Services News Agency (MISNA) reported on Sunday. Among the fighters were a number of children, MISNA said. The news agency reported that a public transport vehicle was attacked south of Port Loko on Saturday by unidentified persons. Two of the passengers were wounded when a grenade landed not far from the vehicle.
27 November: RUFP Minister of Trade and Industry Mike Lamin left Freetown for the United States on Saturday to attend the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference which gets underway in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday, a source close to the RUFP told the Sierra Leone Web.
President Kabbah is in Amman, Jordan, where he will deliver the keynote address on Sunday to the plenary of the Seventh World Assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.
26 November: Finance Minister Dr. James Jonah announced on Friday an austerity budget of Le 275.98 billion ($128 million at the official exchange rate of Le 2,154 to the dollar) for fiscal 2000, but expressed the hope that it could be revised upwards once aid money began to flow again. The budget calls for about Le 58.5 billion to be spent on security, Le 78.2 billion on wages, Le 42.8 billion on domestic debt payments and Le 26 billion on servicing external debt. "The government recognises that this is a transition and austerity budget," Jonah told Parliament. "In this vein, we have recently reached an understanding with the International Monetary Fund that we will continue to review the situation, and when domestic revenues and donor inflows improve, expenditure levels will be revised upwards." The IMF is due to review government spending and the economy in April or May of 2000, with a view toward working on a structural adjustment programme, Jonah said. The finance minister said that foreign reserves in October stood at $16 million, but were expected to rise to $49 million by year's end due to financial aid.
RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, accompanied by ECOMOG commander Major-General Gabriel Kpamber and U.S. Ambassador Joseph Melrose Jr., visited Port Loko on Thursday to explain the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme to RUF fighters deployed there. The security situation during the visit was described by BBC West Africa Correspondent Mark Doyle. "My overwhelming impression was of a military security. ECOMOG troops protected us all. Heavily armed American commandos bristling with guns and communications gear protected their ambassador and his helicopter. Another helicopter, a fearsomely armed gunship, was patrolling the skies. It was obvious that Sierra Leone is not yet at peace." Doyle summarized the terms of the DDR programme: "If they bring guns to a demobilisation center, they go through a period of debriefing. If this goes well, they receive the equivalent in local currency of $150. Then they are officially demobilised. After a further three months, if they have found themselves a new civilian role, they get a further $150 equivalent." He quoted a government official as saying the programme had been "constrained" because former combatants wanted money before they handed in their guns, whereas donor countries financing the operation wanted the guns before they would give the money. The group undertook a similar mission to Lunsar on Friday.
25 November: The first unit of peacekeeping troops for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) failed to arrive in Freetown on Thursday. Deputy UNAMSIL Commander Colonel David Chepkwony said late Wednesday that the arrival of 135 Kenyan troops had been postponed for logistical reasons. They are now expected to reach Sierra Leone on Monday.
The anti-corruption bill submitted to Parliament should be ratified "very shortly," presidential spokesman Septimus Kaikai told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) on Thursday. "The initial reaction of Parliament was that it was needed," Kaikai said. He said it would cover all aspects of public life in a bid to stamp out corruption. "No one will be immune, not even the President," he added.
The AFRC has distanced itself from the new Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP) registered on Monday by its erstwhile rebel allies of the RUF. In a statement issued in Freetown on Thursday, the AFRC said it "has nothing to do with the political organisation RUF party." The alliance between the two rebel groups has shown increasing signs of strain since the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord in July. In October fighting broke out between the two sides at Makeni and Lunsar. The AFRC statement said it preferred to place "a premium on the disarmament of SLA soldiers who were involved in the conflict and not party politics at the moment," adding: "The AFRC believes that the continuous clamour by the people of Sierra Leone for lasting peace should be the concern for all while other interests kept behind for now."
The National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) said Thursday that 117 more combatants had been disarmed, bring the total to 1,063. 594 weapons and 7,628 rounds of ammunition were also turned over, the Committee said. Slightly different figures were given Wednesday by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which said 1,125 of an estimated 45,000 combatants had so far been disarmed.
A tense situation was defused at the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) camp at Port Loko last week after former rebels complained about delays in receiving their allowances and food for their families, ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Olukolade told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). "After persuasion, people were pacified and the situation was brought under control before it became a full-blown riot," he said. There are some 500 people at the camp, Olukolade said, but added that not everyone was involved in the incident. Their complaints were raised Tuesday at the regular meeting of the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR), where it was decided that a delegation to include ECOMOG force commander Major-General Gabriel Kpamber, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Melrose Jr., RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh, and government officials would undertake a "sensitisation" visit to the camp.
Nigerian Defence Minister Lieutenant-General (Rtd.) Theophilus Danjuma said Thursday that the decision of the United Nations to become involved in the Sierra Leone crisis marked the end of the ECOMOG force. Danjuma told Kaduna Radio Nigeria that at present ECOWAS heads of state had passed no resolution to raise a standing army or an intervention force in the sub-region. "The minister explained that it was difficult to raise such an army on a continent like Africa without the assistance of a strong and wealthy nation," the radio said.
RUFP Minister of Trade and Industry Mike Lamin narrowly escaped serious injury after being assaulted by a gunman at his Cape Sierra Hotel residence, BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah reported on Thursday. The assailant was identified as Gabriel Foday, described by members of Lamin's family as a friend of the minister and also his bodyguard. Reuters, quoting a police officer, described him as an RUF security guard. "(Foday) went to the hotel, into the ministers room, and while they were in conversation, apparently to settle some dispute, the man pulled out a pistol and then shot in the air, and then later on when Mike Lamins security, the ECOMOG soldier, rushed into the room, he also sustained some shots," Fofanah told the BBC Focus on Africa programme. "He said the cause of the dispute was unclear. "The minister told him to leave the room, and it was at that point that Gabriel Foday said he will shoot all of them and then shoot himself. He then let off some shots and attempted to escape, but he was later apprehended." Foday is said to be in custody at the Congo Cross police station, where he reportedly has made a statement to the authorities. The ECOMOG officer was wounded in the attack, but Lamin reportedly was not badly hurt. "I understand that when the gunman attempted to shoot at them, the minister jumped through the window, and he sustained some pains and he was taken to hospital, but I was told by close friends of his that hes doing fine now, although he did not go to his office today," Fofanah said.
President Kabbah is set to leave for Amman, Jordan where he will deliver the keynote address to the plenary of the Seventh World Assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), a diplomatic source told the Sierra Leone Web on Thursday.
The British commander of the Sierra Leone Police Force, Police Inspector-General Keith Biddle, has announced an anti-corruption drive aimed at restoring the reputation of the force after years of malpractice, BBC West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle reported on Thursday. Biddle said corrupt officers would face the full weight of the law, adding that several policemen were already being prosecuted for corruption. He said that police salaries had been increased substantially to lift junior officers out of poverty and so discourage them from stealing. "Police dishonesty here goes from top to bottom. It includes senior officers illegally renting armed police for cash payments and goes right down to traffic cops harassing motorists for petty bribes," Doyle noted. Biddle, a senior British police officer who was recently named to head the force by President Kabbah, "said he was aware that his appointment as a British police officer could be criticised as a neo-colonial anachronism. But he said he had support from honest police officers and the bulk of ordinary Sierra Leoneans."
24 November: The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reported Wednesday that the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme was continuing at a slow pace, with only 1,125 of an estimated 45,000 combatants having so far been disarmed. Of this total, 102 were from the RUF, 523 from the AFRC, and 500 from the pro-government Civil Defence Forces. 108 of the number were children. Meanwhile, a UNAMSIL assessment team visited Kabala on Tuesday, where they met with civilians and heard victims and witnesses speaking of rape, abducting, maiming and branding by former rebels, according to a statement issued by the Office of the Spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
23 November: A human rights assessment mission conducted at Lungi and Port Loko last week by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has documented continuing abuses against civilians by "former rebel elements," mostly in the Northern Province, according to a statement issued on Monday. UNAMSIL confirmed that killings, rapes, abductions and house burnings were occurring almost on a daily basis in villages near the main Lungi-Port Loko road. The U.N. also said that some 2,000 missing children remained unaccounted for and were believed to still be in rebel custody, despite provisions of the Lomé Peace Accord which requires the release of all non-combatants. While noting a significant reduction in the number of human rights abuses reported since the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord, UNAMSIL warned that the pattern of violations now emerging raises concern because, if left unchecked, it could fundamentally undermine the Accord. In a statement issued on Tuesday, outgoing U.N. Special Envoy to Sierra Leone Francis Okelo (pictured right) called on all parties to the peace agreement to order the immediate release of all detainees and to ensure that their followers abide by commitments to respect the fundamental rights of all Sierra Leoneans. Okelo also welcomed the RUF rebel movement's registration as a political party as envisaged by the peace accord, which would "enable the RUF to participate fully and lawfully in the political life of Sierra Leone." A U.N. human rights officer left for Kabala on Tuesday, where a high incidence of abduction, looting, rape and physical assaults on civilians has been reported this month.
Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare said Monday that his country is prepared to send troops to take part in peacekeeping efforts in Sierra Leone. "We are ready to send troops to Sierra Leone to join the Economic Community of West African States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group [ECOMOG] force," Konare (pictured left) told Libreville Africa No. 1 (Gabon state radio). "You know that both U.N. and ECOMOG troops are operating in Sierra Leone. It is our duty to be present there and Mali is therefore ready to send troops to Sierra Leone."
Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmonicek visited Freetown from November 18-22, primarily to review security in the country where five Czech soldiers are participating in the UNAMSIL peacekeeping mission. According to Radio Prague, Kmonicek also met with President Kabbah and RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh.
A Russian arms merchant, "Victor B.", took advantage of loopholes in Belgian laws designed to prevent international arms smuggling, using front companies to ship arms to conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East from 1995 to 1997, according to an international study to be published shortly. The study, entitled "The Arms Fixers," by Brian Wood and Johan Peleman, alleges that in early 1999 using a partly Belgian-owned air freight company, "Victor B.", thought to be a former KGB agent, "succeeded in transporting arms from Bratislava via Liberia to an armed uprising in Sierra Leone," according to a review broadcast Tuesday by Brussels De Morgen Radio.
22 November: The RUF moved to transform itself into a political party Monday by registering with the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC). In a ceremony observed by what the BBC described as "hundreds of his supporters and ordinary people (who) overwhelmed the nearby streets in a festive mood," RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh, flanked by senior RUF officials, presented Acting INEC Chairman Ibrahim Sesay with the rebel movement's application to register as Sierra Leone's 18th political party, and received from Sesay a provisional certificate of registration. The new party, which will be represented by the symbol of a lion — what RUF spokesman Eldred Collins earlier described as a "peaceful lion" in honour of the country's name — is to be known as the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP). Its colours are to be green and gold. "You are now free to participate in the politics of Sierra Leone," Sesay told Sankoh after issuing the provisional certificate. Describing the event as "historic," Sesay continued: "We were all looking forward to this day and we hope the RUF will now surrender their arms and ammunition in keeping with the Lomé Peace Accord. We must now accommodate each other as this is the hallmark of democracy." He said that a further meeting between INEC and RUFP officials would be held to work out and implement additional requirements before a final certificate was issued. "War is over and now we are talking politics," Sankoh said in response. "The war has now ended and we are in peace. We are going to give up all our arms and we have succeeded in getting democracy...We took guns for democracy and now that we have a proper system, that is the Lomé Peace Accord. We will prove to the world and our people that RUFP believe in democracy...We are no more under the rule of war but the rule of law. The ballot box has replaced the guns and the war is over." Addressing his supporters at Victoria Park following the ceremony, Sankoh told them that sustainable peace is the pillar of democracy, and that the time had come to talk politics, not war. As reported by the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Sankoh said that when the RUFP came to power its priority would be to provide free education at all levels. He pointed to tribalism, nepotism and sectionalism as factors responsible for the country's predicaments. According to BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah, about 15 truckloads of RUF supporters arrived in Freetown from the countryside on Sunday night "to grace the occasion."
21 November: Unidentified armed men ambushed a bus in Kambia District on Friday and abducted a number of civilian passengers, state radio reported on Sunday. The 50-seater bush was on its way to Pamalap when it was attacked near the Mange Bridge, about 50 miles from Freetown. There was no word on how many passengers were abducted, but those remaining, whose luggage was stolen, were brought back to Freetown by ECOMOG. Meanwhile, the Agence France Presse (AFP) said boat owners plying the sea route off Kambia District were frequently attacked by pirates. Boat Owners' Association Secretary-General Alikali Kargbo said the latest attack occurred on Saturday and involved two boats. "The pirates are so daring that they don't even wear masks. They are armed but have not shot at any one," he said. "They are using local boats equipped with outboard motors to attack commercial boats. They cart away anything found on board including petrol. If there is not anything valuable, passengers are beaten until they are helpless."
20 November: General Vijay Kumar Jetley of the Indian Army has been selected to lead the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), a diplomatic source told the Sierra Leone Web late Friday. Jetley formerly served in the U.N. Iran/Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG). "He is in New York this week for briefing, and expects to take up his appointment in the next few weeks," the source said.
19 November: After being released from RUF captivity in Makeni and flown to Freetown on Thursday, former President Joseph Saidu Momoh has recounted his treatment at the hands of the RUF. "Well, to be very frank with them I was treated with a lot of courtesy and respect," Momoh told the BBC Network Africa programme on Thursday evening. "There was no verbal assault on me; there was no physical assault on me. But at the same time my movements were restricted. I was held against my will, and I experienced some difficulty with food not [indistinct] provided me by them. No medical facility was made available to me, irrespective of the fact that I had told them I was not well, and in fact they really knew it." Momoh acknowledged that he "certainly" had fears for his life. "Living among those chaps is far from being comfortable," he said. "With all sorts of weapons all over the place, and some of them in the hands of small boys. So I felt most uncomfortable in their midst. I have to admit that." Momoh, who was received by President Kabbah upon his return to the capital, said Kabbah told him Sierra Leone was looking to sustain the peace that had been negotiated. "So, and he was hoping that in whatever way I could cooperate with him to ensure the peace was received, I should do." The former president, who was convicted last November on two counts of conspiracy for his alleged role in the coup which overthrew the civilian government in May 1997, again protested his innocence. "Well no, I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I think (Kabbah) knew definitely...I couldn’t have done that because I was a civilian. So and I cannot see, I cannot see civilian overthrowing a government." He insisted that he and Kabbah had never been enemies. "I don’t believe in being enemies with anybody. We have never been enemies at all. We’ve always been good friends," he said. Momoh also described his encounter with RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, who ordered his release. "Well in fact he himself did say when we met on Sunday this is the time for reconciliation, etc., etc. So [indistinct] I’ve never been enemies with him." Momoh said his first priority would be to seek medical treatment. "I have some problems with my health," he said. "What I want to do now is seek professional medical advice, get treatment. And once I’m absolutely certain about my health again, then I’ll turn to God Almighty to direct me what to do next." Asked whether he would consider a return to politics, he replied: "Well I’m not thinking about that right now." In a separate interview with the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Momoh said he had been held by the RUF at Makeni from August 21 to November 11, an ordeal which he described as "hellish and tough." He dismissed reports he had faced trial by the RUF as "rubbish." He said he had barely managed to survive, and at times was reduced to eating only cassava. SLENA reported that Momoh suffers from hypertension, and that he has developed a problem with his left eye.
Following a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, Council President Danilo Turk of Slovenia read out a statement calling on all parties to the Lomé Peace Accord to implement its provisions immediately. "Members of the Security Council expressed continued concern about the volatile security situation, and violations of the Lomé Peace Agreement and the consequent humanitarian suffering of the people of Sierra Leone," he said, adding that Council members had urged former combatants, especially those belonging to the RUF, "to lay down their arms, enter the camps, and help start to rebuild a peaceful and stable Sierra Leone for the benefit of all its people." Council members also stressed that it was "unacceptable" for rebels to continue to intimidate and harass humanitarian personnel. "They underlined that international community can only assist Sierra Leone where conditions permit and reminded rebel leaders of commitments on humanitarian access which they made on signing the Lomé Peace Agreement," Turk said, adding: "Council members welcomed the immediate deployment of robust peacekeeping force, for which first troops will arrive later this month."
Parliamentary debate on the Anti Corruption Act, 1999, placed before Parliament by Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Solomon Berewa, has been deferred until Tuesday following the bill's introduction and first reading, the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) reported on Friday. The bill would set up an independent anti-corruption bureau aimed at the eradication of bribery and corruption, and would set penalties for offences deemed to be corrupt practices.
18 November: Former President Joseph Saidu Momoh was airlifted by helicopter from Makeni to Freetown on Wednesday, according to reports published Thursday by the Concord Times and the Agence France-Presse (AFP). Family sources told the AFP his release followed last week's trip to Makeni by RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, who met with Momoh in an effort "to reconcile their differences." The sources said Momoh "has lost of lot of weight and looks sick." At the end of October Momoh's lawyer, acting APC leader Serry Kamal, charged that he had been abducted by the RUF during clashes between rival rebel factions at Makeni. Several local newspapers alleged that the former president had been taken to Kailahun District. Momoh's supporters, including Kamal and exiled APC Secretary-General Eddie Turay, angrily demanded his release. In November 1998 Momoh was convicted by the High Court on two charges of conspiracy in connection with his alleged support of the former AFRC military junta, and was sentenced to two concurrent five-year prison terms (a total five-year sentence). He was freed from Pademba Road Prison during the rebel attack on Freetown in January. In March, former journalist and BBC Network Africa presenter Hilton Fyle told the BBC that he and Momoh were with the RUF forces "somewhere in the center of the country." Since then, he is believed to have resided in Makeni, where an humanitarian source told the Sierra Leone Web at the weekend aid workers had seen him "a few weeks ago." He was officially pardoned in July, following the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord. Momoh became President of Sierra Leone in 1985, but fled to Guinea in 1992 after his government was overthrown in a military coup. He returned from exile in February 1997.
A Hong Kong court on Thursday sentenced former Principal Immigration Officer Solomon Dominic Musa to three years in prison for selling three Sierra Leonean diplomatic passports for $540,000, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement. Musa in February after he tried to sell the passports to ICAC undercover agents posing as courier service businessmen who wanted to avoid customs inspections. An ICAC statement issued at the time said Musa was one of eight persons arrested in connection with an investigation into an international crime syndicate involved with various serious criminal offences.
17 November: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed veteran Nigerian diplomat Oluyemi Adeniji as his Special Representative to Sierra Leone, replacing Francis Okelo who ends his two-year stint in the position. Adeniji joined the Nigerian Foreign Service in 1960, and early in his career served in his country's embassies in Washington, D.C., Freetown and Accra, Ghana, as well as in various capacities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1970 to 1973, he was Minister in the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations. He was appointed Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1976. From 1977 to 1981 he served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Ambassador to Switzerland. From 1987 to 1991 he was Nigeria's Ambassador to France. Adeniji was appointed the Director-General of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1991, where he served until his retirement in 1994. He is considered to be an expert on the subject of disarmament and conflict resolution, and has authored several publications on both subjects. In 1998 Annan appointed Adeniji to be his Special Representative for the Central African Republic. Adeniji was educated at the Ijebu-Ode Grammar School, the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, and the University College, Ibadan and London University.
The United Nations said on Wednesday that it will begin deployment of peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone beginning next week. "Preparations are now well advanced for the arrival and deployment of the 6,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone, beginning next week," a U.N. statement said.
AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma has visited his field commanders based in the Okra Hill area east of Freetown to get them to register for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, according to a U.N. statement issued in New York on Wednesday. "This is the first time Koroma returns to his rebel stronghold in Okra Hills since his return to Freetown," the statement said. "Several thousands former rebels are still in Okra Hills, a volatile group which had held 35 hostages last August, including U.N. personnel. Abductees and child combatants are assumed to still be held there as well." According to Reuters, Koroma told the rebel SLA soldiers that the time had come to turn in their weapons. "You should all hand over your weapons before the end of disarmament, which is December 15," he said, adding: "The nation is fed up with war." He told them that arrangements would be made to for them to join the country's new military force. "Please rest assured that arrangements have been made for those who want to be reinstated back into the army. But the first major concern is the disarmament,'' he said. Koroma was accompanied by ECOMOG commander Major-General Gabriel Kpamber and the commander of the U.N. Military Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, now the Chief Military Observer for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Brigadier-General Subash Joshi.
Parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the nomination of Francis Musa as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and the Environment. Musa is one of four deputy ministers whose names were submitted by the RUF under the terms of the Lomé Peace Accord. Also approved were the nominations of Dr. Mohamed Lahai O’bai Samura as Ambassador to Libya and former Trade, Industry and Transportation Minister Alie Thorlu Bangura as Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to Ghana.
16 November: United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Carolyn McAskie, who last week headed a humanitarian assessment mission of donor nations and U.N. agencies to Sierra Leone, has stressed the importance of disarmament in bring peace to the country. "Disarmament is the biggest thing," she told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). "Humanitarian agencies are still unable to go to large tracts of the north." She said the situation in Makeni and Kailahun District was still unstable. "Rebel commanders are still roaming freely with their arms and the population does not feel secure," she noted. "Our impression is that it is a very critical moment in the peace process," McAskie said. "Things have been going very slowly up to now. They are beginning to move but they will have to move faster if Sierra Leoneans are to have confidence in the peace accord." She said it was difficult to tell how committed the various factions were to the peace process. "The general sense is that Johnny Paul Koroma is sincere and that, as chairman of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace, he is buying into the peace accord," McAskie said. "Sankoh is saying the right things and what we are looking for from him is action to back up his word...The proof of the pudding will be when the (field) commanders lay down their arms." After leaving Sierra Leone last Thursday, McAskie's mission held talks with Guinean officials in Conakry and visited a Sierra Leonean refugee camp. "The next step will be to inform the donor community of the need to ensure that the disarmament process is fully funded," McAskie said. "If we do get a large influx of ex-combatants handing in their arms we have to be sure there is money available."
Life is beginning to return to normal at Mile 91 despite the lack of basic supplies, Makeni Bishop George Biguzzi told the Rome-based Missionary Services News Agency (MISNA). "At Mile 91 the children are once again attending lessons in the schools, though there is really nothing left of them but the walls," Biguzzi said. "The students sit on cement blocks. Some even bring chairs or wooden blocks from home." He said the local dispensary was operating thanks to the Catholic charity Caritas. "The nurses sleep on improvised beds and do their best to help the sick, with the little medicine at their disposal," he said.
15 November: RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh told his supporters in Makeni on Sunday that the time had come for them to turn in their weapons. Reuters correspondent Christo Johnson reported Monday that an estimated 15,000 RUF fighters gave Sankoh a "rousing welcome" when he arrived in Makeni, accompanied by senior officers of ECOMOG and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). "My concern as your leader is to change your minds from war to green revolution and that will have to go side-by-side with democracy," Sankoh said. "The only way to fight now is through the ballot box." Sankoh said that his visit to Makeni was a sign that Sierra Leone's civil war was over, and that his fighters should be "ready to give the guns to the appropriate authorities, which is ECOMOG and UNAMSIL. According to the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), the RUF commander in charge of Makeni, Brigadier Issa Sesay, gave assurances that his men were prepared to disarm in compliance with Sankoh's directives. Sankoh is expected to visit Magburaka and Lunsar before returning to Freetown.
Several members of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) who were allegedly detained by the RUF on Friday and taken to the rebel stronghold at Buedu have denied they were abducted. "It was offered to them, and they decided to take them up on the offer," a humanitarian source told the Sierra Leone Web on Monday.
U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said Monday that a compromise Commerce, State and Justice (departments) funding bill had provided "significant add-backs...with respect to peacekeeping" in countries such as Sierra Leone and East Timor, where the United States government had made commitments to help fund peacekeeping efforts. "There are missions now in East Timor and Sierra Leone, where there's not one American — well, in Timor, we have a few American soldiers, but none in Sierra Leone. This is burden-sharing," he said. "Other countries are on the ground doing the peacekeeping, but we have to help pay our share of the cost, and Congress has added a significant amount, but not all of that money back."
Commonwealth heads of state meeting in Durban, South Africa issued a communiqué on Monday deploring recent violations of the Lomé Peace Accord and calling upon all parties to fulfil their commitments on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of combatants. The communiqué also commended the ECOMOG force, and expressed support for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Meanwhile President Kabbah, who is in South Africa to attend the meeting, met with Queen Elizabeth and with other heads of state to express appreciation for their support throughout the Sierra Leone crisis, the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) reported.
14 November: Five people were killed and three more hospitalised in critical condition Saturday night resulting from a stampede Saturday night at the Rumours nightclub in western Freetown when security forces attempted to arrest curfew violators. Dozens of others have reportedly been treated for injuries at various medical facilities around the capital. According to the BBC, a disco dance at the club was organised by schoolchildren from St. Joseph's and St. Edward's Secondary Schools in Freetown. An ECOMOG statement issued on Sunday said 750 persons violated the curfew, resulting in a raid by what Reuters identified as a joint force of ECOMOG and the new Sierra Leonean military. However, Rumours Assistant Manager Ibrahim Turay told Reuters that the club had obtained a permit from ECOMOG to operate during curfew hours. He said the troops who entered the club ordered the patrons to sit on the floor, and threatened to shoot anyone who disobeyed. The statement issued by ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Olukolade expressed regret over the incident and extended condolences to the families of those who had died, but added: "ECOMOG advises all citizens to desist from violating any of the security regulations of the State of Sierra Leone, which the force has a responsibility to enforce. The curfew order which forms part and parcel of the security measures is still in force from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m." Reuters quoted a senior CID officer as saying that 15 soldiers and paramilitary police had been arrested after the incident, but noted that Olukolade's statement made no mention of this.
13 November: Several members of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) were detained by the RUF in Kailahun on Friday, a humanitarian source told the Sierra Leone Web on Saturday. "They were taken against their will to Buedu, had to wait for some time, and then finally Maskita (RUF field commander Sam Bockarie) agreed to see them," he said, adding that the military observers were released before midnight and returned to their patrol vehicles. He said representations were being made to RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh on the issue. The source also said there had as yet been no confirmation of a BBC report Thursday that hundreds of RUF fighters had reported to the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Centre at Daru. Referring to an allegation circulated in a press release Friday by AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma that the RUF had "attacked several small satellite villages around Kabala town" and was preparing to launch an attack on Kabala itself with the aim of dislodging ECOMOG troops stationed there, the humanitarian source said that as of Saturday morning the town was quiet, with no reports of fighting.
12 November: Seven truckloads of ECOMOG soldiers arrived in Makeni on Thursday in preparation for an anticipated visit by RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, the Rome-based Missionary Services News Agency (MISNA) reported on Friday. The troops, who were sent to the northern provincial capital to ensure Sankoh's safety, were camped at the city's athletic field, MISNA said. However, according to Freetown's Concord Times newspaper, Sankoh on Thursday again postponed his trip to Makeni.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said on Friday that civil wars in West and Central Africa had the potential to create "fresh and sudden refugee crises" in the two regions. She warned of the possibility of "fresh catastrophes — like the exodus of Rwandans in 1994, or the massacres and mutilations of civilians in Sierra Leone in 1998." In an address to the U.N. General Assembly committee which deals with refugees, Ogata expressed hope that cease-fire agreements in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo would result in genuine peace, but argued that not enough was being done to ensure their success. "Insufficient resources are provided by the international community to fully implement the agreements — in terms of political pressure, support to peacekeeping arrangements, and development aid to back up peace-building," she said. Her comments came a day after a high-level donors mission led by U.N. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Carolyn McAskie concluded that the security situation in Sierra Leone was not yet stable enough to allow full scale relief and humanitarian work to begin.
11 November: Hundreds of RUF combatants have begun reporting to a disarmament and demobilisation centre at Daru after being instructed to do so by their leader, CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, the 15th ECOMOG brigade commander, Brigadier-General David Dufor, said in Kenema on Thursday. According to BBC Bo correspondent Prince Brima, members of the pro-government Civil Defence Forces militia have begun reporting to centres in Kenema District after learning of compliance by RUF fighters. "According to reports from Daru, the commanding officer of the ECOMOG in Daru in eastern Sierra Leone, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent, has provided vehicles to help the transportation of RUF combatants from Segbwema and eastern environs to be disarmed," Brima said. "This move by Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent comes as a result of a visit on Tuesday to Daru and Segbwema by the RUF leader, Corporal Foday Sankoh, during which he called on his combatants to hand over their weapons to the United Nations Observer Team and ECOMOG." The BBC reporter added that Sankoh, in a two hour radio interview on Thursday morning, ordered RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie to comply with the Lomé Peace Accord and to allow RUF combatants to report to the disarmament centres. "Bockarie, who seemed reluctant to allow RUF fighters to be disarmed, was firmly told by Sankoh that he was no longer prepared to wage war on the people of Sierra Leone," Brima reported. "'I am for peace,' he said. 'I want to transform the RUF into a political party'." He added that Sankoh warned Bockarie he would not allow anyone to cause a split in the RUF.
RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh has announced that the RUF will soon register with the National Electoral Commission as a political party, as required by the Lomé Peace Accord. Sankoh did not disclose the new party's name, but said that its symbol would be a lion, which represents strength. According to BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah, AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma has voiced opposition to the registration of any political party until the disarmament and demobilisation of an estimated 45,000 combatants is complete. "Koroma said that the only way leaders of the former conflicting side will demonstrate commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement is by disarming the fighters immediately rather than by washing into mainstream politics," Fofanah said. "Well, it seems Corporal Sankoh of the RUF is doing just that. The bearded former guerrilla leader has been campaigning to market women, ordinary people, and political activists wherever he visits, insisting that it is time now for the ballot rather than bullet."
A high-level joint mission consisting of representatives of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and a number of donor nations said in a a press conference Thursday that the security situation in Sierra Leone was not yet stable enough to allow full scale relief and humanitarian work to begin. "Our understanding as donors is that the security situation is still uncertain," said U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Carolyn McAskie, who led the mission. "This has meant that humanitarian agencies still don't have access to the suffering people." BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah characterised the representatives as "not very, very enthusiastic about the situation" in Sierra Leone. "They were supposed to have gone to Lungi yesterday; they could not go there," he said. "And they were also supposed to go to Port Loko. Basically they said Kenema was stable, considerably, but that the overall situation wasn’t that very stable. On that note one journalist asked whether the assistance would be predicated on the stability of the situation. They said donor assistance is not based on any political consideration, but that all parties to the conflict must make sure that they quickly move the peace process and start the disarmament process. "The mission, which included members from the United States, Britain, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Canada, Ireland and Japan, left Sierra Leone on Thursday after a four day visit.
10 November: RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, who travelled with ECOMOG force commander Major-General Gabriel Kpamber and U.N. military observers on Tuesday to the RUF stronghold in Kailahun District, ordered his fighters at Segbwema to report to the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) camp at Daru beginning on Wednesday. "I, as your leader, order you to start giving your guns as from tomorrow," Sankoh told them, adding: "I am here with a very important message and that message is peace...Any commander who incites combatants not to give their arms or flouts this order starting from tomorrow may face the full penalty of the laws of Sierra Leone." Sankoh said that only 800 of an estimated 45,000 combatants nationwide had so far turned in their weapons. In a report for the BBC Focus on Africa programme, BBC correspondent Sylvester Rogers described Sankoh's visit. "After a brief address (at the Daru military barracks) in which the rebel leader urged his fighters to support the disarmament program, the delegation moved to the rebel-controlled Segbwema town which is several miles away," he reported. "It was in Segbwema that the (Sankoh) called on his fighters to hand over their guns and start constructing blocks for the rebuilding of the many homes they had burnt. Reaction among the rebels were sharp. There was some singing, drumming, and dancing. Both ex-combatants and civilians participated in the celebration which marked the return of Corporal Sankoh to the town where he lived and planned his guerilla war." Rogers said the "numerous produce centers and commercial enterprises" in Segbwema had been reduced to rubble and the Nixon Memorial Hospital completely vandalized. "Urging his combatants to disarm, Corporal Sankoh said that he is now number three man in the government of national unity and that some RUF commanders are serving as ministers," Rogers said. "This, he said, is enough reason for them to lay down their arms. Corporal said, I quote, 'I gave you guns to fight and if I ask you to give them back, you must.' Corporal Sankoh warned the combatants that anyone who attempts to start a new round of fighting would be in danger." ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Olukolade said Wednesday that the DDR "sensitisation process" would continue Friday with visits to Makeni and other areas. He added that AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Johnny Paul Koroma was expected to join the group on Friday.
The Kenyan contingent of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeeping force is expected to be deployed next week, Kenyan officials said in Nairobi on Wednesday. Kenya will reportedly send 45 officers, 779 servicemen and 6 service women to join UNAMSIL. In a ceremony in Nairobi on Tuesday, President Daniel Arap Moi presented Kenya's flag to Kenya's contingent to Sierra Leone and to a smaller peacekeeping contingent bound for East Timor. Moi urged the Kenyans to uphold the honour and dignity of Kenya, and to preserve their own integrity.
United Nations military observers have restored calm to the Lungi Disarmament and Demobilisation Camp after rioting broke out among rebel SLA soldiers encamped there on Monday. The spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard, said on Monday that the former soldiers were demanding the speeding up of their demobilisation process. Between 1,400 and 1,600 ex-combatants and their families are housed at the camp, which was opened in July. Eckhard was also quoted Tuesday as saying that only 600 of an estimated 45,000 combatants nationwide had registered by Monday at demobilisation and disarmament centres opened last week. While the RUF had the largest number of combatants, he said, only 53 of those registered came from its ranks. Meanwhile, a joint mission by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and a number of donor nations continued their assessment of Sierra Leone's post-war humanitarian needs in a visit to Kenema, where they visited a camp for internally displaced persons and hospitals operated by U.N. agencies and non-governmental organisations. On Tuesday they held high-level meetings on the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Integration (DDR) programme and earlier visited the Murraytown Amputee Camp and the Lakka Children's Interim Care Centre.
The London-based human rights group Amnesty International, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban, South Africa beginning on November 12, has called on Commonwealth member states to help ensure the restoration of good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights in Sierra Leone. "Ending human rights abuses depends on the effective implementation of the peace agreement. This cannot be achieved without strong commitments from the international community," Amnesty said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "Peace and reconciliation will not be achieved without justice. The total amnesty granted by the peace agreement to those responsible for killings, mutilation, rape and abduction contradicts fundamental human rights standards and provides no deterrent for further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law." The human rights group recommended that the Commonwealth, as a moral guarantor of the Lomé Peace Accord, to contribute towards the disarmament and demobilisation of former child combatants and programmes to meet their social, psychological and material needs and reintegration into society; support the establishment of an effective international mechanism for investigating human rights abuses in order to establish accountability and bring perpetrators to justice; ensure that the U.N. peacekeeping force and remaining ECOMOG forces conform at all times to international human rights and humanitarian law; continue to assist in the restructuring and training of the military and police forces and ensure that this includes training in international human rights and humanitarian law; contribute towards rebuilding and strengthening the judicial and legal system; and ensure that an effective international human rights presence remains for as long as necessary and that it receives strong political support and adequate resources from the international community. "The blanket amnesty precludes prosecution within Sierra Leone of perpetrators of human rights abuses committed during the conflict. While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided by the peace agreement cannot alone establish full accountability for those human rights abuses, it can play a role in revealing the truth and may contribute towards the wider international investigation requested by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights," the Amnesty statement said, adding: "Certain gross human rights abuses committed during the conflict remain crimes under universal jurisdiction and states have an obligation to prosecute alleged perpetrators before their own courts if they travel outside Sierra Leone."
9 November: A group of former Sierra Leone Army soldiers encamped at the DDR (Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation) camp at Lungi took to the streets on Monday, looting businesses and local institutions. "According to eyewitnesses from the area, the former combatants at the Lungi DDR centre abandoned their garrison and went on the rampage confiscating money and property from civilians and business people," BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah reported on Tuesday. "The exact number of ex-fighters who took part in the demonstration is not clear, but the camp is said to hold more than 800. I understand that the Lungi open market and corner shops were looted and even schools and a local clinic there were not spared." Fofanah said the former combatants had been complaining about back pay owned to them, and also about poor living conditions at the camp. National Security Advisor Sheka Mansaray was quoted as saying that Chief of Defence Staff Maxwell Khobe and AFRC Brigadier Gabriel Mani had gone to Lungi in an attempt to persuade the soldiers to call off their action and to explain to them the benefits of the DDR programme. News accounts have frequently described Mani as the leader of a rival faction of the AFRC formerly headed by the late Captain Solomon A.J. "SAJ" Musa — an assertion denied by AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma. Koroma confirmed to the Sierra Leone Web at the weekend that Mani was staying with him at his Juba Hill residence while visiting Freetown.
150 rebel SLA soldiers and about 40 civilians were killed in fighting between AFRC and RUF rebel forces at Makeni and Lunsar last month, AFRC Colonel Idriss Kamara was quoted as confirming in news accounts published on Tuesday. "The whole of Makeni and Lunsar as well as their surroundings are now in the hands of the RUF," the Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Kamara as saying, citing local press reports. Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Dr. Emmanuel Fabai, an RUF appointee, said that RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh "will be visiting Makeni within the next three days." Sankoh, along with AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma, was expected to leave Tuesday for Daru and Segbwema to explain the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme to combatants in eastern Sierra Leone. RUF spokesman Eldred Collins told Freetown's Concord Times newspaper that Sankoh had left for Kailahun District, but was unable to confirm whether Koroma had accompanied him. "We expect (Sankoh) back in the evening, or latest tomorrow," Collins was quoted as saying.
U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno on Tuesday officially extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sierra Leoneans for an additional twelve-month period (until 2 November 2000) for those who were covered under the original designation on 4 November 1997 and have continuously resided in the United States since that time. The Attorney-General also redesignated TPS to cover Sierra Leoneans and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Sierra Leone who were in the U.S., legally or illegally, as of 9 November 1999. Sierra Leoneans covered under TPS are allowed to live and work in the U.S., but will be required to leave the country upon expiration of the TPS designation for Sierra Leone, unless they have otherwise changed their status with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
8 November: RUF spokesman Eldred Collins told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Monday that RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh had ordered his frontline commander in Makeni, Brigadier Issa Sesay, "to prepare his men for disarmament," adding "Issa himself will have to register at the disarmament site." Meanwhile, RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie accused the pro-government Civil Defence Forces and the AFRC of launching combined attacks against the RUF, and warned that the peace process was close to collapse. "If they continue we will not be blamed for the breakdown of the process," Bockarie (pictured left) told the Associated Press (AP) by satellite telephone. Bockarie also accused President Kabbah of preventing the rebels from wielding any real influence in the new power-sharing arrangement set up by the Lomé Peace Accord. Under the terms of the agreement, the rebels received four ministerial posts and had expected to hold one of the portfolios of foreign affairs, finance or justice. Instead, RUF Brigadier Mike Lamin was given the Trade and Industry Ministry, which the government argued fulfilled the Accord's requirement that the rebels be given a "major" cabinet post. "We have respected the Accord more than anyone else, so people shouldn't treat us like children," Bockarie told the AP. "If (the CDF and AFRC) do not respect it we will not respect it."
Members of the United Nations Security Council expressed concern Monday at breaches in the Lomé Peace Accord. "They expressed their concern about the recent serious violations of the Lomé peace agreement and the resulting deterioration in the security situation in the country,'' said council president Danilo Turk of Slovenia. In a statement issued following a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi, Turk said members also noted the failure of fighters of the RUF and the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) to participate in the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR), programme which began last Thursday, despite the fact that DDR camps had now opened. "They expressed dismay at recent clashes and urged the parties to abide by the Lomé agreement and solve their differences by peaceful means,'' the statement said. Security Council members emphasised the need for all parties to the Accord, and in particular RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh, to meet their obligations in full under the agreement. "They called on Mr. Sankoh to implement all the provisions of the agreement for which he is responsible, and especially to ensure the participation of the RUF in the DDR programs,'' Turk said.
Liberian President Charles Taylor has expressed concern about renewed fighting in Sierra Leone. "We urge all the parties to exercise patience and continue to keep the process on track," he told reporters on Monday at a monthly press briefing in Monrovia. "We want to discourage any and all action that could deter the (peace) process." Taylor congratulated President Kabbah "for all of the hard work he is doing, and (we) will hold Koroma and Sankoh responsible for what they are doing." He expressed the hope that the "United Nations would hurry up to fulfil its end of the bargain, which is to send people on the ground."
A high-level donor mission led by United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Carolyn McAskie arrived in Sierra Leone Monday to assess the country's relief needs as it emerges from more than eight years of civil war. According to state radio the mission, which will leave on Thursday, includes representatives from the United States, Britain, Canada, Ireland, and Japan.
Canadian National Defence Minister Art Eggleton announced Monday that Canada would contribute five military observers, under the designation "Operation Reptile," to the 6,000-member United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeeping force. "Canada's participation in this mission is another clear indication of its continued commitment to peace and security in the world," Eggleton said in a press release. "Given their training and international reputation, I am certain that the Canadian military observers will significantly contribute to U.N. efforts in Sierra Leone."
The AFRC called on Monday for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as provided for in the Lomé Peace Accord. "The AFRC finds it to be very distasteful for some combatants to start trading accusations about which group committed atrocities during the past nine years in Sierra Leone," the "AFRC leadership" said in a statement signed by AFRC leader and CCCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma. "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will provide a forum for all Sierra Leoneans to tell their stories, express their grievances and identify those who tortured them," the statement said. "The Commission will be an essential part of the peace and reconciliation process and it must be supported by all Sierra Leoneans and by the International Community." The swift creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been pushed for by the United Nations and by international human rights groups, but it is reportedly opposed by RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh. "I am for blanket amnesty. That means I am not going to try to investigate and arrest people. No...I don't want such a commission," Sankoh told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) in late September.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth on Monday commended Ghana's contribution of peacekeeping troops to the ECOMOG force in Sierra Leone, saying that Ghana had made "a valuable contribution to the international effort to bring peace to that unhappy land." The Queen, who is currently on a visit to Ghana, added that "That vital effort is but one example of Ghana's long and distinguished history in international peacekeeping and conflict resolution."
7 November: Some 800 rebel fighters have reported to demobilisation camps in Port Loko District and have turned in their weapons, Associated Press correspondent Clarence Roy-Macaulay reported on Sunday, quoting United Nations military observers. Slightly different numbers were given by BBC correspondent Sylvester Rogers, who told the BBC Focus on Africa programme that about 600 fighters had handed in their weapons in the first three days of disarmament. "They are giving their weapons to ECOMOG officials and then they will remove the parts that they use to operate them," Rogers said. "When they remove that part — the operational part from the weapons — they will give them tags on their wrist with their documentation numbers." He said the former combatants were being given nothing in return for their guns. "They just take them to the various camps and then show them their billets and then they give them food, blankets, candles for them to use it while staying in the camp," he said. Rogers said recent strife between the RUF and AFRC did not appear to be responsible for the slow response to the disarmament programme. "It is not creating a lot of problems among the two groups of combatants, especially the AFRC soldiers; they are willing to give in their weapons, but the RUF combatants see it as a kind of betrayal," he said. "About two days ago, there was heavy exchange of fire between this group that had come in to surrender. The RUF was saying that the AFRC had betrayed them. They are not actually willing to come to give in their weapons." The BBC reporter said it was "difficult to say" whether any RUF fighters had reported to the demobilisation camps. "All those whom I met in the camps there claiming to be RUF fighters are just boys they adopted during the fighting," Rogers said. There are estimated to be be about 45,000 former combatants still under arms in Sierra Leone, many of them children, fighting with the RUF, the AFRC, and the pro-government Civil Defence Forces (CDF).
6 November: Few combatants showed up at demobilisation camps on Thursday, the first day of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, United Nations officials said. According to Reuters, reporters who visited the camp at Masumana on Friday were told that only 120 fighters had turned themselves in. Many of them were said to be child combatants. Elsewhere, the response has been even worse, according to an official with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). "In some other areas, there hasn't been a single turnout," he said.
The Center for Victims of Torture, a Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. based organisation which provides medical and psychological treatment for torture victims, announced Saturday that it will set up a programme in Gueckedou, Guinea to treat Sierra Leonean torture victims. The programme, funded with a U.S. State Department grant of $766,000, will be led by Charles Ellmaker, and will include three staff psychologists and about 50 local people. The Center for Victims of Torture was founded in 1985 at the suggestion of the late Governor Rudy Perpich, and had until now concentrated on treating torture victims who had immigrated to the United States. "This is very much of a departure for us," said Douglas Johnson, the centre's executive director.
5 November: Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo received a 21-gun salute during welcoming ceremonies Friday upon his arrival in Freetown for a one-day official visit to Sierra Leone. President Kabbah, Foreign Minister Dr. Sama Banya and other officials welcomed Obasanjo at Lungi International Airport, after which the visiting head of state was flown to State House for talks with Kabbah on implementing the Lomé Peace Accord. The Nigerian leader also held talks with RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh and AFRC leader and CCP Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma. BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah described Obasanjo's arrive in the capital. "He got a very, very enthusiastic welcome," Fofanah told the BBC Focus on Africa programme. "There were tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans; schoolchildren, military people, who lined all the streets of Freetown waiting to see him. In fact he could not drive on the streets of Freetown, most parts of Freetown, and people were kept there for over five, six hours waiting to see him. And at the State House there were all the politicians, the diplomats, ordinary people, journalists; everybody was waiting to see him and hear him." In address to Parliament, Obasanjo was silent on Nigeria's announced plans to withdraw its troops from Sierra Leone, but said Nigeria was concerned about the current security situation in Sierra Leone and said his country would continue to support President Kabbah's government. He called on all parties to the conflict to abide by the dictates of the peace accord and to move the peace process forward. "(Obasanjo) said that the Members of Parliament and politicians should try very hard to put aside partisan politics and formulate a national agenda around which all of them would work to push the country’s [progress] forward," Fofanah said. "He urged the rebel leaders to support the peace process, that they must move from the slow track to the fast track. And also he said that there have been no victors in this war, no vanquished, and it is time that they should give peace a chance and make sure that ordinary Sierra Leoneans once again enjoy peace." According to the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Obasanjo was accompanied to Sierra Leone by an entourage which included the Foreign Minister, Minister of Defence, and Minister of Co-operation and Integration; the Chief of Defence Staff, and the Chief of Army Staff.
The process of disarmament and demobilisation of combatants, which was to have begun in earnest on Thursday, received a disappointing response with the BBC reporting that relatively few combatants turned up at demobilisation camps. BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah pointed to fighting between RUF and AFRC rebels in northern Sierra Leone, as well as the the arrest and disarmament of AFRC soldiers by RUF rebels in the east. "That has not helped the disarmament process in any way," he said. "In fact, yesterday the process was supposed to have gone into full swing, but my understanding is that very, very few rebels actually surrendered their guns, because they were expecting that once they hand over the guns they will be given $300 or more. And then this wasn’t forthcoming yesterday, and many were not very enthusiastic to pass over their guns." Reporting on events in eastern Sierra Leone, BBC Bo correspondent Prince Brima said that following the abduction Wednesday night of 500 AFRC soldiers by the RUF while on their way to a demobilisation camp at Daru, and because of widespread rumours that the RUF was still planning an attack to overthrow the government, Kamajor militiamen had suspended their participation in the disarmament process. "Yesterday a big disarmament exercise was supposed to take place at Kenema, but U.N. military observers and the personnel of the ECOMOG West African peacekeeping force waited in vain for combatants to turn up," Brima said. "This was a big disappointment, not only for the U.N. and ECOMOG, but also for members of the public. Kamajor fighters in Kenema who have been fighting against the rebels for few years, told me that they were now reluctant to turn in their weapons, and are insisting that they do so only if their former enemies the RUF and the AFRC do so simultaneously." Following a meeting between Sierra Leone's two rebel leaders and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, AFRC leader and CCCP Chairman Johnny Paul Koroma issued a press release stating he had called on RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh "to immediately surrender their arms to ECOMOG and UNAMSIL (United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone) and proceed to UNAMSIL disarmament centres." Koroma said Sankoh promised that beginning on Saturday "he would order his men to turn over the security arrangements for Makeni, Lunsar and those environs to the ECOMOG and UNAMSIL Forces...(and) that his men, including (Brigadier) Issa Sesay, who all failed to turn up for disarmament yesterday, will start reporting at disarmament centres as from tomorrow." There has been no independent confirmation of his claim.
A Liberian development association, the Sustainable Development Promoters (SDP), has donated two mills to Sierra Leonean refugees in the towns Blamasee and Zuanah in Montserrado County, Liberia's Star Radio reported on Friday. The mills, valued at $15,000, will be used to make farina and to polish rice. SDP is an implementing partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
4 November: The problem over the composition of the ECOWAS troop composition to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has been resolved, with five countries to provide troops and military observers, a diplomatic source told the Sierra Leone Web on Thursday. According to the source, Nigeria will provide three infantry battalions and four military observers, Ghana will send one infantry battalion and four observers, Guinea will send one infantry company and twelve observers, Gambia will provide 22 military observers and, subject to confirmation, Mali will send 8 observers. A battalion consists of 750 troops, while a company is made up of about 123 men. Under U.N. standards, a country contributing battalion-strength troops should also be in a position to provide the necessary support units. According to the source, UNAMSIL will be headed by a non-ECOWAS commander, while the Deputy Force Commander will be a Nigerian. A Ghanaian is expected to fill the position of Chief Military Observer. The initial deployment of the UNAMSIL force is expected to being around November 28, the source said, adding: "They could start off by merely changing the helmets of berets of some of the ECOMOG troops already on the ground."
RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh and CCCP Chairman and AFRC leader Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma have issued statements condemning the looting of humanitarian agency property during fighting between RUF and AFRC combatants in Makeni, and the harassment of aid agency staff members. According to the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) the rebel leaders deplored attacks on humanitarian workers and ordered that all looted property, including personal items taken from humanitarian staff, be returned to their owners. Sankoh and Koroma ordered their combatants to allow aid workers to operate unhindered throughout the country and to completely guarantee their safety and security. They stressed that the combatants of the RUF and AFRC had agreed to abide by international law, which required them to respect the human rights of civilians. "Their combatants are also required to respect the rights of civilian beneficiaries, noting that if humanitarian support is distributed to civilians but taken by armed individuals there will be no more distribution in those areas," SLENA said. The statements by Sankoh and Koroma were well-received by humanitarian agencies who have found it increasingly difficult to assist vulnerable persons in northern Sierra Leone due to the deteriorating security situation. The United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator, in a press release issued on Tuesday, welcomed the statements which specifically guarantee the safety of humanitarian agencies and their beneficiaries. "The humanitarian community especially welcomes the commitment to return looted relief items, and the direct instruction to combatants that the rights and security of humanitarian workers and resources are inviolable, even in times of insecurity," the statement said. It added that while some progress had been made in reaching some needy persons in areas controlled by the RUF and AFRC, aid agencies have found it difficult to implement large-scale humanitarian programming due to the lack of a secure environment. "The humanitarian community calls upon all parties to the current conflict to respect the rights of civilians, and the humanitarian agencies attempting to help them," the statement said. "It is only by providing credible guarantees of security, followed by the provision of a secure working environment, that the needs of civilians in war-affected areas can be met. By allowing this to happen, the leaders of armed groups can demonstrate their concern for the needs of people in areas they control, and also provide a real boost to confidence that the Lomé Accord can be implemented."
RUF leader and CMRRD Chairman Foday Sankoh acknowledged Thursday that RUF troops in Kailahun District had briefly detained a team of U.N. workers on Tuesday. "On Tuesday November 2, four United Nations military observers entered Pendembu town in Kailahun District...without the knowledge of the RUF field commander in the area and they were arrested by combatants," Sankoh said, adding: "When they told me about the arrests I immediately contacted my men in Kailahun District by radio for the immediate release of the men, and my instruction was followed...So how come (U.N. Special Envoy to Sierra Leone Francis) Okelo is saying that we cannot adequately control our commanders or combatants?" Meanwhile, newly-appointed AFRC spokesman Prince Edward Nicol accused the RUF Thursday of kidnapping 500 rebel Sierra Leone Army (SLA) soldiers at Pendembu. "We have started the disarmament program today officially, but the RUF has captured 500 ex-combatants who were on their way to the reception and disarmament centers," Nicol told the BBC Focus on Africa programme. "They have been captured with their arms and ammunition, and they have been taken to unknown destinations." He said AFRC leaders had tried to contact Sankoh, without success. "We have phoned them, we have asked to contact their commanders, they have refused to talk, and this has created a lot of unease in the country," he said. Nicol insisted, however, that the AFRC still maintained its alliance with the RUF. "We are together," he said. "We are working together, but a group of unscrupulous people are just trying to create problems. We are all geared toward the enhancement of peace in this country, but there are certain people who just don't want to take instructions."
AFRC spokesman Prince Edward Nicol has rejected an allegation made Tuesday by CMRRD Chaiman and RUF leader Foday Sankoh that AFRC soldiers wanted to retain the military ranks they assumed after the May 1997 coup. "How can a man who was a sergeant and who promoted himself to a brigadier or a general now want to be back in the army with that rank?", Sankoh asked in a Concord Times interview published on Wednesday. "At no point has any member of the AFRC demanded that they remain with the ranks they attained in the bush," Nicol told the Sierra Leone Web. "The 'brigadier' rank sported by AFRC sergeants are in the same category as the rank of 'major general' being sported by Sam Bockarie. They are all bush ranks. These major general and brigadier ranks are given in the bush only so as to maintain control over fighters. Sam Bockarie's major general rank and Issa Sesay's brigadier rank mean absolutely nothing inside he national army and Chairman Sankoh is aware of this." Nicol referred to the AFRC's September 3 communiqué, which argued that promotions conferred by the AFRC junta should stand because, it claimed, the Lomé Peace Accord recognised the validity of the October 1997 Conakry Peace Agreement and "hence the AFRC as a de-facto government."
Nine United Nations agencies have launched a Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal to donor nations for assistance to provide $70,961,440 in aid to Sierra Leone for the year 2000. The Appeal summary noted that there were "strong reasons to believe that the peace process is on track" while stressing that the majority of war-affected civilians remained out of the reach of humanitarian agencies to to difficulties in implementing the Lomé Peace Accord. "The successful implementation of the accord is key to moving Sierra Leone from relief to recovery," the Appeal said. "Now more than ever, it is urgent that the international guarantors of the Accord come to its support in order to allow all Sierra Leoneans to enjoy the dividends of peace." The Appeal acknowledged that "due to the prevailing situation in which all efforts must contribute to the overarching goal of peace," the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) envisaged by the Appeal established goals which, by most standards, were not traditionally humanitarian. "However, we feel that within the next one to three years Sierra Leone will achieve peace and the requisite political and social stability that go with it, and that the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) should serve as a pillar of that peace," the Appeal said. "The promotion of a culture of good governance, democracy and observance of human rights must be linked to the economic rehabilitation of the informal and private sector to produce a politically robust and stable society. In addition, the government of national unity urgently requires capacity building, in order to effectively provide services to citizens as the nation moves from a relief economy to self-reliance." The summary argued that the "scenarios and strategies" delineated in the Appeal were based on a realistic assessment of the situation in Sierra Leone. "The international community cannot afford to stand back and await some further signs of a serious commitment towards peace," the Appeal said. "The (Lomé Peace Accord) has been signed and it is incumbent upon the international community to provide adequate and timely support to the peace. Support for this Appeal will enhance the peace process, above all, by giving Sierra Leoneans a chance to reclaim their Forgotten Generation." [Appeal breakdown by Agency: Food and Agriculture Organization - $3,878,000; Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - $1,077,290; United Nations Children's Fund - $9,208,000; United Nations Development Programme - $1,019,125; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - $12,304,212; United Nations Populations Fund - $1,806,600; United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone - $730,000; World Food Programme - $39,230,343; and World Health Organization - $1,708,870.] [Appeal breakdown by sector: Agriculture and Food Security - $3,878,000; Child Protection - $2,000,000; Coordination - $1,497,290; Education - $1,850,000; Food Aid - $34,193,495; Health and Nutrition - $6,760,470; Human Rights - $1,329,125; Logistics and Emergency Support - $5,036,848; Reintegration of Refugees and Returnees - $12,304,212; and Water and Sanitation - $2,112,000.]
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Deputy Commissioner Fred Barton said in Abidjan on Thursday that lack of donor funds had forced the agency to try new tactics in West Africa. Following a ten-day visit to the region, Barton said that the UNHCR had no choice but to move away from its "care and maintenance mode" and to begin "questioning traditional solutions and trying new experiments." Barton pointed to a serious shortfall in donor response to humanitarian needs in West Africa. According to UNHCR fighters, donors have pledged only 40 percent of the $80 million needed to fund refugee operations in the sub-region, while the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has fared even worse: Donors have so far pledged only 20 percent of the $106 million the WFP says are needed to feed refugees and internally displaced persons in West Africa. "We have to show results and in order to do that, we have to have better programs and do them faster," Barton said. He added that, whenever possible, the UNHCR would seek to pre-empt problems before they spiraled into major refugee crises. In Sierra Leone, where Barton said "there has been a lack of vision for, maybe, the entire 20th century," the UNHCR wants to bridge the gap between humanitarian aid and development assistance. He said the UNHCR wants to bring together the "civil society" and Sierra Leonean refugee leaders, most of whom are in Guinea, to address problems such as labour and education. One third of Sierra Leone's teachers are currently in refugee camps in Guinea, he noted. Barton praised civil society for showing "incredible courage" in adversity, crediting its members with "pulling off an election, albeit imperfect" in 1996 and for "putting pressure on the junta government of Johnny Paul Koroma" after the May 1997 military coup against the government of President Kabbah. While pointing to security concerns in northern Sierra Leone, he said everybody — the United Nations, the Sierra Leone government, ECOMOG and former rebels — "needed a catalytic boost" to ensure that the ceasefire was properly monitored and that humanitarian aid could be delivered to areas cut off by the fighting.
3 November: CMRRD Chairman and RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh, in a statement broadcast over state radio, called on all combatants to surrender their weapons to peacekeepers. "We have been fighting for eight years but please remember that this time we have to end the war in the name of the Almighty God," Sankoh said. "So if you have rifles, anti-aircraft guns, machetes, daggers or even knives that you were using as weapons, please hand them over to the authorities." Sankoh's call for disarmament came amid speculation by local newspapers and, according to the BBC, intelligence reports, that his RUF forces were planning to launch a new attack on Freetown. BBC correspondent Lansana Fofanah quoted police and military officials as saying that security forces had been put on alert "and they are taking no chances, because they are not sure exactly whether the rebels are committed to the overall peace plan." In an interview with Freetown's Concord Times newspaper on Tuesday, Sankoh denied that his forces were preparing to attack the capital. "I can assure our people that as far as I am in Freetown, peace will be given a chance," he said. Sankoh told the newspaper that the fighting between RUF and AFRC forces in Makeni had nothing to do with the peace process. "What happened was insubordination. Now everything is clean," he said. "Some disgruntled members of the SLA (Sierra Leone Army) wanted to derail the peace process and I had to put them under control...It would have been a violation of the ceasefire if my men had attacked ECOMOG or the Kamajors. It was a family problem." Sankoh told the Concord Times that the rebel soldiers wanted to be reinstated into the army and to retain military ranks conferred upon them after the May 1997 military coup. "How can a man who was a sergeant and who promoted himself to a brigadier or a general now want to be back in the army with that rank?" he asked. "Self-promotion in the army is an abuse of privilege." Among those who received upgrades in rank under junta rule was former AFRC junta leader Johnny Paul Koroma, who was promoted from major to lieutenant-colonel in December 1997. According to Fofanah, Koroma has also called on combatants to disarm. "Johnny Paul Koroma says that he is warning all his combatants to report to the nearest disarmament and demobilisation center," Fofanah told the Network Africa programme. "Otherwise, according to him, ECOMOG has mandate to arrest any combatant, irrespective of the rank, who is roaming around the streets of the capital. And, as far as I know, this is all judged against the background of growing tension and the fact that people are not sure whether or not the rebel forces are completely committed to the peace process."
Tens of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea could face disastrous food shortages if they are not able to return home soon, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) representative in Guinea, Ardag Meghdessian, said on Wednesday. "At the moment we are fast running out of food stocks,'' he said. Last month the WFP said the international community had provided less that 20 percent of the $106 million needed to feed an estimated 1.8 million refugees and internally displaced persons in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He said that on a recent trip to refugee camps in Guinea, many Sierra Leoneans said they were not going to return home until combatants in their country were disarmed. "Some of them even demonstrated by showing their amputated limbs, the results of the atrocities of the war, to further strengthen their case for not going home before the disarmament of former fighters,'' Meghdessian said.
A high-level team representing aid donors will visit Sierra Leone from November 8-11 in order to assess the country's needs as it emerges from civil war, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Wednesday in a statement issued in Freetown. The team will be led by U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Caroline McAskie (pictured left), and will include representatives from the United States and Britain, the statement said.
The United States Department of Justice has extended for one year, until 2 November 2000, the designation of Sierra Leone under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programme. The Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS) should begin processing the extension of those eligible under the programme on November 3 — those who entered the U.S. prior to 4 November 1997 and who have been continuously eligible since that time In addition. Applicants have until December 3 to re-register, but the INS reportedly will apply a liberal policy for late registration. In addition, the INS anticipates a redesignation of TPS to cover Sierra Leoneans who have entered the U.S. after the initial deadline for registration. The redesignation will begin upon publication of the extension and redesignation notices published in the Federal Register, anticipated during the week of November 8, and will last for one year.
United Nations military observers checking road conditions at Segbwema in preparation for the deployment of U.N. peacekeeping troops were detained for several hours on Tuesday by members of the RUF, the U.N. Secretary-General's spokesman, Fred Eckhard (pictured right) said on Wednesday. "The rebels, apparently all intoxicated, claimed that the patrol had no clearance to enter the area. The patrol members were allowed to leave after about four hours and returned to Kenema unharmed," the U.N. statement said.
2 November: President Kabbah officially formed his new cabinet on Tuesday, bringing into his government a number of new faces, including three ministers and four deputy ministers representing the RUF and AFRC rebel movements, who joined the government under a power-sharing formula agreed to in the Lomé Peace Accord. Following Parliamentary approval on Monday Mike Lamin, a brigadier in the RUF, was named Minister of Trade and Industry, while former AFRC Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alimamy Pallo Bangura, now a member of the RUF, became Minister of Energy and Power. Peter Vandy of the RUF's political wing was named Minister of Lands, Housing, Country Planning and the Environment, and Captain (Rtd.) A.B.S. Jomo-Jalloh of the AFRC received the Tourism and Culture portfolio. Also sworn in Tuesday were three RUF deputy ministers: Dr. Emmanuel Fabai (Rural Development and Local Government), Susan Lahai (Transport and Communications), Idriss Kamara (Labour and Industrial Relations). No reason was given to explain the absence of Francis Musa, who had been nominated deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources. However, Freetown's Concord Times newspaper reported last week that Musa had turned down the post, claiming that he was not an RUF member. Also joining the government were Dr. Kadie Sesay as Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Alpha Timbo as Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations, J.B. Dauda as Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, and Teresa Koroma as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.
Persons reaching Freetown from Makeni on Tuesday reported hearing light weapons fire, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). However, ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Olukolade told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) Tuesday that "there are indications that Lunsar is calm and the stage is set to continue disarmament."
CCP Chairman and AFRC leader Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma complained Tuesday that his troops had been attacked and abducted by RUF fighters, in violation of the Lomé Peace Accord. "Hundreds of SLA (former Sierra Leone Army) soldiers are trapped behind rebel lines and fallen victims to RUF attacks and abduction," Koroma said in a statement issued in Freetown on Tuesday. He denied reports that rebel soldiers had surrendered to the RUF. "It is regrettable that no deterrent action was taken to check these gross violations of the ceasefire despite reports made to ECOMOG and UNOMSIL," Koroma said, adding: "Despite this unfortunate incident, the AFRC will go strictly by the dictates of the peace agreement in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone and will not renege in its commitment to enhance sustainable peace. Sierra Leone armed forces are under orders not to engage in any form of battle with RUF forces."
The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Sierra Leone, Francis Okelo, said Tuesday that the U.N. was "extremely concerned" about the severity of recent cease-fire violations. In a statement released in Freetown, Okelo said that the U.N., as one of the moral guarantors of the Lomé Peace Accord, was alarmed by a significant increase of a wide range of violations. According to the statement, these included active combat, the movement of troops and weaponry, human rights abuses against civilians, systematic assaults against humanitarian personnel, and continued detention of abductees, particularly women and children. Okelo said that either RUF and AFRC leaders were not complying with the terms of the peace agreement, or they could not control their field commanders or combatants. "The international community will not tolerate any subversion of the peace process, and we will assist the Government of Sierra Leone in every way possible to maintain stability," he said. He added that there was an urgent need for sustained and concerted action at the national, sub-regional and international levels to prevent the peace accord from being undermined.
The National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, meeting in emergency session on Monday, has agreed to open four new demobilisation camps for combatants on Thursday, the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reported on Tuesday, quoting a "reliable U.N. source." Two of the centres will be located in Port Loko, one for rebel Sierra Leone Army soldiers and one for RUF troops; one will be sited at Kenema for members of the pro-government Civil Defence Forces militia, and one at Daru for RUF rebels. At the meeting, both RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh and former AFRC Chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma agreed to tell their followers to hand in their weapons, IRIN said. The meeting, which was chaired by President Kabbah, also included U.N. Special Representative to Sierra Leone Francis Okelo, UNAMSIL commander Brigadier Joshi, ECOMOG officers, government officials and U.S. Ambassador Joseph Melrose.
Spanish intelligence services and the Civil Guard have uncovered an illegal arms trafficking ring led by members of the Russian mafia, established in southern Tenerife and using the Canary Islands as a base to export weaponry from the former USSR to Sierra Leone and Angola, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported on Tuesday. The newspaper described the weaponry as including machine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers, grenades and ammunition. "According to the investigations being conducted by the state security forces, the arms arrive in the Canaries on board Russian trawlers working in the fishing grounds off Western Sahara, which occasionally call in to ports in the archipelago to carry out repairs, replenish supplies and change crews," the report said.
1 November: Fighting between RUF and AFRC forces in Makeni and Lunsar has ended, ECOMOG spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Olukolade said on Monday. "There has been recent fighting between rebels of the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, but it has now subsided," Olukolade told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). He described last week's fighting as a "backlash" by AFRC soldiers after their forces were expelled from Makeni in mid-October. The ECOMOG spokesman confirmed Makeni was now under the control of the RUF, but said it was unclear who controlled Lunsar. Olukolade said both sides had suffered casualties during the fighting, but had no details. He added that hundreds of civilians had been displaced by the fighting, and that ECOMOG had received reports of looting by rebel forces. Reuters, quoting "military sources," reported Monday that fighting between the two rebel factions ended on Sunday after the RUF brought in reinforcements from its stronghold in Kailahun District. "I gave instructions to RUF fighters to overrun Makeni and Lunsar...because some of the former junta soldiers do not want to give peace a chance for the people of Sierra Leone," CMRRD Chairman and RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh told Reuters on Monday.
U.S. Congressman Tony Hall introduced legislation Monday to require companies selling diamonds in the United States to disclose where the gems were mined. In a press statement Hall said his bill, the Consumer Access to a Responsible Accounting of Trade Act (CARAT), would provide information to American consumers, who buy 65 percent of the world's gem-quality diamonds, to allow them to participate in a global human rights campaign aimed at removing financial support from some of Africa's most brutal wars. "(The bill) does not block the import of diamonds from any conflict zone, but it would force changes in industry practices. That in turn will encourage responsible countries and companies to use their leverage to end atrocities committed against civilians by armies built with diamond revenues – atrocities that threaten to tarnish diamonds in the eyes of consumers," the statement said. The illicit diamond trade has been blamed for fueling conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola.
Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (pictured left) and U.S. President Bill Clinton (right) announced a joint initiative Monday to provide prosthetic devices and rehabilitation services for mutilated and disabled victims of the war in Sierra Leone. According to a press release issued on Monday, the two countries would each initially contribute up to $1 million to support the work of non-governmental and other organisations engaged in this effort.
Sierra Leonean refugees at Sinje Camp in Liberia, about 50 miles from Monrovia, have accused the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of doing less for refugees in Africa than for those in Kosovo. In a heated meeting with UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Frederick Barton, the refugees complained that as a result of limited assistance they were going through "untold suffering." According to BBC correspondent Jonathan Paye-Layleh, the refugees called on the UNHCR to go beyond its mandate of refugee protection and to press for speedy disarmament of combatants so that they could return to Sierra Leone. Barton said the UNHCR was aware that without peace the refugees could not return home. "Our intent is to advance the peace in the region," he said. He called on the Liberian government to "be a forceful player for encouraging peace in Sierra Leone."