Global Policy Forum

Snags Hit Sierra Leone Disarmament

May 22, 2001

Sierra Leone's 3-day-old disarmament has hit a second stumbling block after the pro-government Civil Defence Force, called the Kamajors, attacked the rebel Revolutionary United Force (RUF), the United Nations said on Monday. The spokesperson for the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, Margaret Novicki, said the attack occurred on Sunday.

The disarmament hit its first snag on its first day, Friday, when Guinea troops pounded the border area where they have accused the RUF of supporting Guinea dissidents. UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji and Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah flew to Guinea on Saturday for talks during which the Guineans apologised and said the shelling was a mistake that would not be repeated. Novicki said Freetown has been informed about the latest violation and it has promised that it would be resolved.

But as she reported the violation, she also noted that the disarmament is achieving results as 1009 combatants from the RUF and the Kamajors had been disarmed. The arms - including anti-aircraft guns, machine and mortar guns - are to be destroyed and turned into farming tools.

The RUF and Kamajors last week agreed to hand in their weapons in a move that could be a breakthrough to end the West African country's bloody civil war that has killed thousands of people, displaced hundreds of thousands and destroyed Sierra Leone's economy and infrastructure. The two sides agreed to end hostilities, with United Nations forces acting as observers. They also agreed to free the hundreds of child soldiers in their ranks.

However, in the weeks before the ceasefire pact, the peace process had been rocked by a spate of attacks between the RUF and Kamajors, and several previous attempts to broker a peace by the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States have failed.

Nivicki said the disarmament would start in two districts, Port Loko and Kambi, and the sides have set up a joint technical committee that will identify the next districts for disarmament.

More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia


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