The Sierra Leone Web



Freetown, Sunday, October 3, 1999

We herald the dawn of a new era. The war has ended. The era of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation has come.

We stand before you today to ask for forgiveness and a spirit of reconciliation across the country.

We offer hands of kindred understanding and love to all those who we have wronged. You, who we have wronged, you have every human right to feel bitter and unforgiving but we plead with you for forgiveness.

Those who have died; those who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones; those who have been disabled; those whose property have been destroyed; those traumatized - the children, the youth, the women and the old aged - we ask for their forgiveness.

We ask for forgiveness from the displaced and refugees.

We also ask for forgiveness and a spirit of reconciliation from the relatives and governments of all those foreign troops who lost their lives and suffered casualties in their tour of duty in Sierra Leone.

We ask for forgiveness and a spirit of reconciliation from members of the international community whose good will has been frustrated by this war. We ask of the same from non-governmental organisations, journalists and civil society groups both local and foreign.

We will like to repeat that the war has ended. To this effect, all prisoners of war are to be released. All roads are opened. To complement this, we call on the government to release all political prisoners and prisoners of war.

We are no longer in a state of war. We are in a state of peace and our presence here today is a testimony to our commitment to the full implementation of the Lome Peace Accord.

We have come to stay and to help consolidate the peace. We want all fears to be removed from our society starting from today. We are now in an era of peace. We are in an era of absolute respect for human rights.

All fears must be removed from our society. The state of emergency must be lifted immediately as we are no longer in a state of war. We have a responsibility now to remove all signals of mistrust, fear and war. The curfew must be lifted. All so-called collaborators are freed of their charges and we welcome them back into our society. Let know one be intimidated or live in fear in the new Sierra Leone we are about to create.

We are happy to announce to the nation today that the reason that brought together the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council still remains. We came together to end the war. We shall remain together to consolidate the peace. Nothing will divide us as our union or alliance is with the blessing of the Almighty Allah/God and our glorious ancestors. Our alliance is for peace! Our alliance is for peace! Our alliance is for peace.

With peace comes politics. The RUF/AFRC alliance will enter into politics. By this, therefore, the RUF/AFRC alliance is to be transformed from a military alliance to a political alliance in accordance with the Lome Peace Accord.

To further demonstrate our abiding commitment to peace, we the leadership and high command of the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council are happy to announce today the transformation of the RUF/AFRC alliance into a political movement. We usher in a vibrant political movement for peace. The RUF/AFRC alliance is now the ALLIANCE FOR PEACE (AFP)!

Very soon we will announce the symbol and flag of the Alliance for Peace (AFP). Our chosen symbol will be that of peace, goodwill and respect for human rights. Our chosen flag will reflect the strength and pride of our Pan-African heritage. We shall strive for the empowerment of our people so that the root causes of the civil war shall be removed from our society forever. Our rallying call shall be "Power to the People". Our Alliance is for Peace and we are here to sustain the peace and contribute to the creation of a new Sierra Leone of equal opportunity, freedom and justice for all.

We have come home to stay! We have come home to build! We have come home to remove fear, intimidation and mistrust from our society.

We embrace you, our people, in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Our dear nation has suffered enough but at long last peace is now at hand. All the fighting forces of this country will be mobilised to rebuild this country. We will transform ourselves into builders of homes, schools, hospitals, markets, roads, bridges, airfields and dams to provide electricity. We shall make farms, fish ponds and raise livestock. We will be the motivating force behind the regeneration of our mining industry. We will transform the motivation on the battlefield to the fields of construction and development. This is the challenge we have put before us. Our movement for peace is also a movement for reconstruction and development.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, join us in expressing our profound gratitude to all those who have patiently assisted us on this our footpath to peace and democracy. We thank the Heads of State of the ECOWAS Authority, their governments and people for helping us to achieve peace at last. We thank the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the European Union and the Commonwealth for listening to the cries of Sierra Leoneans for peace and helping the nation to focus on the benefits of peace. We thank the NGO community, journalists and the civil society groups who constantly reminded the warring factions of their human rights obligations. To them and the international community who supported them we reaffirm our commitment to the observance of human rights. Let their collective voice continue to ring in our ears and remind us of our human rights obligations to the rest of society.

We hold our Alliance for Peace sacred and therefore our commitment to peace and our desire to see to the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord in full.

We are at home and there is no turning back. We have come to help build a new Sierra Leone. May the Almighty Allah/God and our glorious ancestors continue to guide and bless us all.