The Sierra Leone Web



Excerpted from the 59 page document entitled: "Lasting Peace in Sierra Leone: The Revolutionary United Front (RUF/SL) Perspective and Vision" prepared during the RUF’s internal dialogue in Lome, Togo, April/May 1999

We do believe that an important first step to the process of the peace we are inaugurating would be the immediate and unconditional release of the RUF/SL leader, Cpl. Foday Saybana Sankoh. All charges against him should be dropped, thus signposting a move away from the path of the politics of revenge and recrimination into the highway of healing and national reconciliation. In the same vein, there shall be a blanket amnesty for all AFRC personnel and so-called sympathizers or collaborators, and all combatants with effect from the signing of the Agreement.

All hostilities should cease and a cease-fire be immediately established throughout the country upon the signing of the new Peace Agreement by the various parties.

We believe that that should be a new political landscape which should be underpinned by the setting up of a Transition Government which shall remain in power for a period of four years. This government shall have the task of establishing a proper democratic framework that is people-focused rather than leader-oriented.

The Transition Government shall appoint a Commission which should come up with recommendations about the creation of a structure, composition and training needs of a new SLA and police and security service; a corruption-free and efficient Civil Service; an independent judiciary and legal system; and government departments and parastatals. It shall, through the participation of all Sierra Leoneans and Civil Society, map out a new order in which tribalism, nepotism, corruption, economic and social mismanagement become an unwelcome thing of the past.

The Transition Government shall have the task of drafting a new constitution.

A Neutral Peace Monitoring Group shall oversee the encampment, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of all combatants.

A Cease-fire Monitoring Group, comprising the People’s Army, the Kamjors and the Neutral Peace Monitoring Group shall be responsible for monitoring, verifying and taking appropriate action against all violations of the cease-fire, and must be in place before any cease-fire is effected.

All foreign troops and mercenaries must leave Sierra Leone within fourteen (14) days upon the signing of the Peace Agreement.

The Transition Government shall ensure the encampment, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of all combatants upon the signing of the Peace Agreement.

A new National Electoral Commission shall be set up by the Transition Government to replace the existing Interim National Electoral Commission.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the SLPP government and Nigeria shall be terminated with immediate effect.

The Transition Government, in partnership with appropriate agencies, should facilitate the repatriation and resettlement of Sierra Leonean refugees and encourage them to participate in the political process.

The Transition Government shall carry out a national population census to enable future elections to be held on the basis of constituencies. This exercise will enhance future national development programmes.

The RUF/SL shall be given every opportunity to transform itself into a political party during the transitional period.

The Transition Government shall suspend and review all business contracts entered into with government and all other contracts relating to the mineral and natural resources of Sierra Leone.

With clear indications of failed economic policies of previous governments, the Transition Government shall have as its economic priorities the following:

to establish macro-economic policy,

to halt and reverse the economic decline, and

to enhance growth and sustainable development.

The following principles shall guide the above-mentioned priorities:

a) The development process shall be nationally driven

b) All multilateral agreements relating to project implementation shall be reviewed and, where necessary, renegotiated

c) High dependence on foreign assistance (95%) shall be gradually reduced through the instrumentality of an appropriate policy that would make us self-reliant.

d) The Transition Government shall exercise more coordination of NGO community activity and give it greater direction.

e) The current privatization programme shall be reviewed to ensure greater and more effective Sierra Leonean participation.

f) Increased development support shall be given to the social sector – Health, Education and Poverty Reduction Programme.

The Transition Government shall introduce compulsory free primary and junior secondary school education, as well as free primary health care in the towns and villages for the vulnerable population. On-going health programmes shall be reactivated with special emphasis on prevention.

The development of human resources being a key ingredient in nation-building programmes and institutions shall be established with properly crafted activities to provide the necessary educational and vocational skills for employment and self-reliance. The Transition Government shall therefore rehabilitate and establish new technical, vocational and higher institutions of learning.

The Transition Government shall ensure the proper harnessing of domestic resources, both financial and human, for self-reliance. This approach shall be followed before the submission of programmes for external financing and shall underpin the nation’s development process.

Over the years, there has been rampant corruption in the public service, especially in the area of procurement. A more efficient and corruption-free procurement system shall therefore be put in place to make effective use of government’s scarce resources.

The Transition Government shall ensure that inter-religious groups play a neutral and intermediary role when necessary, between the political sphere and civil society on national issues and that they participate actively in genuine national reconciliation programme.

Presidential and parliamentary election shall be held concurrently on a constituency basis. So too shall be district and town council elections. This will enhance development and good governance, especially at the local level. In the Chiefdoms where there are no Paramount Chiefs, elections shall be held during the transitional period.

We reaffirm and uphold the principle of a responsible press freedom, in particular, and of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion, in general.

The RUF/SL recommits itself to a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Sierra Leone crisis, which is what the silent, unheard people want. There is, a warning which is eloquently given in the words of the leader, Cpl. Foday Saybana Sankoh, in his statement in Abidjan on 30 November 1996, on the occasion of the signing of the Abidjan Peace Agreement: "Today, the battlefield has changed and the bullet is being replaced by the ballot. This means that the battlefield has changed to the socio-economic and socio-political field. Today, we are happy and blessed to announce to the world that our slogan is LEADERSHIP, GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY. If leadership fails, the people will take up arms again! If governance fails, the people will cry power to the people, and if democracy fails, the people will be denied their material and spiritual wealth, as well as well-being…"

War, despite its tragedies, is an important learning experience, an agent capable of effecting social change more rapidly than any other change. What we need at this juncture is the consciousness of the imperative of building a new Sierra Leone more quickly and comprehensively, devoid of hunger, hate, malice and wickedness, and filled with freedom and equality. For this great challenge we require enlightened leadership with a vision to fire the people of Sierra Leone with unequaled drive and purpose.