Global Policy Forum

Sierra Leone Peace Talks Resume

November 9, 2000

Talks aimed at restarting the Sierra Leone peace process begin on Thursday, with representatives of the government and rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) due to meet in the Nigerian capital. The meeting - the first high-level talks since fighting resumed in May this year - will also be attended by representatives of the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Sierra Leone's Government, propped up by UN peacekeepers and British troops, has little authority beyond the immediate surroundings of the capital Freetown. The RUF rebels still control large parts of the countryside, including the richest diamond mining areas, and paid almost no heed to last year's Lome peace accord, which required them to disarm.

The so-called peace process has been moribund for months but correspondents say there is some confidence in West Africa that the rebels are ready to make concessions. Regional governments believe that the rebels' main backer, President Charles Taylor of Liberia, is feeling isolated and is ready to co-operate in peace efforts. There have also been suggestions of splits within the rebel leadership although the RUF denies this.

What the RUF does say is that it wants to talk about more than just disarmament - it has political demands such as the release of some of its prominent members and it wants to take up some of the ministerial positions it enjoyed before the resumption of fighting.

Government demands

But the government made clear in a statement published in the Vision newspaper on Tuesday that it will make no concession to the RUF or its members unless they demonstrates a commitment to the disarmament process. According to the statement, the RUF must allow free movement of civilians, aid workers and peacekeepers and also the establishment of government agencies and authority throughout the country.

This is consistent with provisions of last year's Lome Peace Accord which the Kabbah government still considers a viable instrument for achieving durable peace in the war-torn country.

Rebel soldiers and other combatants who wish to be reintegrated into the restructured national army will be encouraged to do so after they disarm, the statement added. Once again, the government urged the populace to forgive and accept in their communities RUF combatants in the name of reconciliation.

More Information on Sierra Leone


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