Global Policy Forum

RUF Agrees to Open Roads

January 4, 2001

The dissident organization, the Revolutionary United Front, has promised to reopen within 72 hours all roads leading to areas under its control in Sierra Leone, UN spokeswoman Hirut Befecadu said on Thursday.

RUF interim leader Issa Sesay made the commitment on Wednesday in Magburaka, 143 km northeast of Freetown, in a meeting with the force commander of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Lt-Gen Daniel Opande.

Three roads are to be reopened: the north-south Bumbuna to Magburaka link in the middle of the country, Kabala to Makeni which from the north runs south to Port Loko and Lunsar, and the Kambia-Mange-Port Loko axis. A Freetown-based diplomat said the RUF has been under considerable military pressure from Guinean troops on this third corridor, north of Freetown, since suspected RUF fighters began raiding Guinea in September 2000.

"The opening of the roads would help implement the ceasefire agreement," Befecadu said. "The UN is pressing to open the road all the way to Kalahun," she added.

This would enable humanitarian aid agencies, she said, to enter rebel-held areas under UNAMSIL escort. The ceasefire deal, signed in November 2000 in Nigeria, allows for the deployment of UNAMSIL troops in rebel-held zones. In Wednesday's meeting, Befecadu said, an agreement was reached to form a "contract group" to implement this accord.

Access to these areas has been sealed since the RUF took over 500 UN troops hostages in May 2000. They were released later. The UN have been overseeing a peace agreement signed between the Sierra Leonean government and RUF. However, this was effectively scuttled when the RUF took the hostages.

More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia


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