Global Policy Forum

UN Military Assessment Mission Due In


By Jerome Hule

May 20, 1999

New York, UN - In anticipation of a final peace agreement in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has announced his intention to send a military assessment team to the country to draw up plans for an expanded UN presence. In a statement Wednesday, Annan welcomed the ceasefire accord signed in Lome, Togo, on Tuesday by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and the leader of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Foday Sankoh.

The agreement, expected to come into force on 24 May, provides for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need and the release of prisoners of war and non-combatants. The two parties also agreed to ask the UN to deploy military observers to monitor compliance. ''I call on the RUF, the civil defence forces, the government and ECOMOG (the West African Peace Monitoring Group) to adhere strictly to the terms'' of the agreement, Annan said.

The secretary general said he would initiate measures to strenghten the UN Military Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) so that it can play its role in implementing the ceasefire. UNOMSIL currently has nine members, seven of them military observers. The mission was deployed last year to monitor the faltering peace process that envisaged the relinquishing of power to the elected government of president Kabbah by the military junta that overthrew him in 1997.

However, the process ran into muddy waters as the junta, pushed out of power, joined forces with RUF rebels in concerted efforts to retake power in Freetown. Rebel brutality against civilians and their invasion of Freetown in January resulting in the death of over 5,000 persons and the destruction of half of the city, has brought to the fore the necessity to renew the peace process.

Under the auspices of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), the two parties agreed to the ceasefire as a prelude to peace negotiations scheduled to begin 25 May.

More Information on Sierra Leone


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