Global Policy Forum

U.N. Seeks Sierra Leone Peace Talks

Associated Press
May 15, 1999

United Nations - The U.N. Security Council urged Sierra Leone rebels Saturday to begin negotiating a peace settlement with the government to bring an end to a grisly civil war that has wracked the West African country. The council also condemned the "killings, atrocities, destruction of property and other violations of human rights and international law perpetrated on civilians by the rebels in recent attacks.''

The 15 members of the council urged both sides to stop fighting during peace talks and urged countries to abide by a U.N. arms embargo. Talks between the rebels and government officials are tentatively planned for later this month in Togo.

The statement came after West African intervention troops repelled an attack by Sierra Leone rebels Friday on a major highway junction in the interior. At least 30 rebels were reportedly killed. Human rights groups and U.N. agencies have condemned the rebels for sowing terror by killing and maiming civilians in their bid to oust Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

The West African force, known by its acronym ECOMOG, and other forces loyal to the government have launched a recent offensive against the rebels in the interior. As many as 5,000 people were killed in December and January during the rebels' latest major push, which reduced parts of the capital to rubble before ECOMOG beat the rebels back.

Leaders of the rebel Revolutionary United Front met earlier this month in Togo's capital of Lome to draft a peace proposal and present it to Sierra Leone's government. The rebels say they want a four-year transition government that would lead to new elections.

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