Global Policy Forum

Warring Sierra Leone Factions


By Combiete Combey

Nando Media/Associated Press
June 16, 1999

Lome, Togo - After eight years of civil war, Sierra Leone's government and rebels were closer to a peace agreement Wednesday after agreeing to govern together, a mediator said.

Togolese Foreign Minister Joseph Koffigoh, who is leading efforts to broker an end to the fighting in Sierra Leone that has killed tens of thousands of people, said an accord could be reached as soon as this weekend. "We hope to quickly arrive at a definitive conclusion to this work no later than Friday," he said. Omrie Golley, spokesman for the Revolutionary United Front rebels, confirmed Wednesday that the talks were progressing well with no major hitches in sight.

Koffigoh said the Sierra Leonean government has agreed to the rebels' key demand - that they be integrated into a "united national government" in which the rebels would have an influence on major policy before new elections. He said the main remaining points are the degree to which the rebels would have a say in a transitional government and how long troops from the Nigerian-led regional peacekeeping force known as ECOMOG would remain in the country. Representatives for both sides - hoping to capitalize on a cease-fire that began May 24 and appeared to be holding - were consulting with their leaders Wednesday on their progress.

However, the rebels said later Wednesday that peacekeepers had arrested and detained 14 rebel soldiers, including several rebel superiors. Golley said the 14 were merely on patrol and demanded their immediate release, calling the arrests "a provocation." "If this continues, we will be obliged to energetically defend the positions occupied by the RUF," Golley said, adding that the incident appeared to have no impact on the peace negotiations.

Talks between President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's government and the rebels began last month in the Togolese capital, Lome. The talks are being brokered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations. The rebels began fighting the government in 1991. The United Nations has accused the rebels of a methodical campaign of atrocities against civilians. At least 5,000 people were killed in a rebel attack on Freetown, the capital, in January.

More Information on Sierra Leone


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.