Global Policy Forum

Security Council Welcomes Ceasefire Between Sierra Leone and RUF Rebels

UN News
November 14, 2000

The United Nations Security Council today welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached last Friday between the Government of Sierra Leone and the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). According to Council President Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands, members of the Security Council saw the 10 November accord - reached in Abuja, Nigeria, and brokered by the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) - as "the first step" towards the resumption of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

Council members "called on the parties - especially the RUF - to honour the commitments made, so that Sierra Leone will get a real chance to find a lasting and durable solution to the conflict," Ambassador van Walsum said in a press statement issued after the Council heard a briefing by a senior UN peacekeeping official. "The Security Council will continue to do what it can to help achieve this goal."

When asked whether the Council was optimistic about the ceasefire, Ambassador van Walsum said the its members hoped the agreement would be an effective first step in the right direction. "But I believe I can safely say that given the history of Sierra Leone, there was guarded optimism," he added.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Oluyemi Adeniji, told a press conference in Freetown yesterday that the ceasefire would be supervised "exclusively" by UN peacekeepers and that the agreement provided for a joint UN-ECOWAS mechanism to which UNAMSIL could report any violation. It also foresees the opening up of the country and the deployment of UN peacekeepers throughout the territory, including diamond-producing areas. Under the agreement, there will be a 30-day period, which began last Friday, for determining the respect or non-respect of the ceasefire by all parties, the UNAMSIL chief said. Thereafter, the UN peace operation will report to the same forum that facilitated the signature of the accord: the UN, ECOWAS and the Government of Sierra Leone.

The RUF representatives also committed themselves in Abuja to returning the weapons their soldiers had taken from the UN, Mr. Adeniji said. Asked whether the withdrawal of Indian and Jordanian troops would jeopardize the UN Mission's mandate, Mr. Adeniji said Secretary-General Kofi Annan had requested the Security Council for additional troops to ensure UNAMSIL's deployment in various parts of the country. "The troop pull-out will only accentuate the request for additional troops, but the 30-day period does not impose immediate deployment of UNAMSIL all over the country whilst supervising the ceasefire," he said, noting that the rhythm of deployment would be facilitated by confidence-building between the RUF and the Government of Sierra Leone. So far, he added, there has been no violation of the ceasefire.

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