Global Policy Forum

Sierra Leone Rebels Return

February 13, 2001

The return of stolen goods took place in the north-central town of Makeni on Monday after a meeting between the Kenyan commander of the U.N. peacekeepers, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, and the leader of the Revolutionary United Front, Issa Sesay.

The RUF handed over 56 weapons, including Kalashnikov assault rifles and submachine guns, as well as communication equipment, all in fairly good condition.

But the nine personnel carriers had been ''trashed and cannibalized,'' U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The guns, hardware and vehicles were seized last May, when the rebels took some 500 peacekeepers hostage, beginning with a U.N.-run disarmament center in Makeni, as they moved too close to diamond-mining areas that the rebels control.

Sesay called for the ''formation of an interim government and the simultaneous disarmament of all parties to the conflict,'' Eckhard said.

So far, Sierra Leone government officials have reacted coolly to calls for an interim government, which several opposition parties have also advocated.

The Revolutionary United Front, which has been conducting a civil war since 1991, renewed another cease-fire pact last November that so far is holding. But the rebels have ignored any central government and continued their control of large areas of land in the north and east.

Opande had met Sesay in the central town of Magburaka on Jan. 3 in an effort to deploy peacekeepers in rebel-controlled areas. One demand was a return of the U.N. military hardware.

The U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone, known as UNAMSIL, has 10,347 troops and an authorized level of 13,000.

The U.N. and rebel delegations also visited a hospital in Makeni, where they confirmed that Opande's countryman, Cpl. Robert Wanyama of Kenya, had died of gunshot wounds on May 9.

They then traveled to Magburaka and were shown the graves of two Kenyan soldiers who died when the personnel carrier fell off a bridge during the May crisis, Eckhard said.

More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia


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.