The Sierra Leone Web


Praise and Glory be to God, Allah, who has made it possible for us to get to this historic moment. On behalf of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, my own personal behalf, I want to thank His Excellency President Eyadema of the Republic of Togo, his government, and the people of the Republic of Togo for the enormous sacrifice, time, and energy they have devoted to helping us find a solution to the crisis in Sierra Leone. Since our arrival in Lomé, we have enjoyed exceptional hospitality, and have been given an efficient security cover with a view to creating the necessary conditions for the advent of what we are witnessing today.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the committee of facilitators of this conflict for their relentless efforts and understanding. They have no doubt gone through moments of despair as we made frantic but justified attempts to make our voice heard, and to make our message understood to the best of our ability. I want to assure you today that there is no more war in Sierra Leone. [passage omitted including indistinct portions]

I want to seize this opportunity to express special gratitude to Mrs. Patience Botchway for her [words indistinct] the Foreign Ministry accepted to help my delegation. My thanks also go to the Foreign Ministry [words indistinct]. I also seize this opportunity to thank the members [words indistinct], particularly the War Council and the High Command for their loyalty, confidence, and unflinching support, especially during the few years when I was separated from them by circumstances. In fact, we have been able to achieve what has brought us together today, mainly because of their determination, hard work, and unalloyed patriotism.

I would also want to thank my delegation, which carried out the negotiations, for their preparations, and the good job done. Posterity will honor them and give them the recognition they deserve.

It is with this sincerity that I express my gratitude to His Excellency and my brother President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the Government of Sierra Leone for their daring decision to negotiate with us. My special gratitude goes to the government delegation, representatives of the civil society, and the Inter-Religious Council for their contributions to this peace process.

Similarly, I would like to congratulate all our compatriots and sympathizers as well as those who maintained permanent contact with us worldwide to give us the encouragement we needed, so much needed, and which, I hope, we have made good use of as demonstrated on this historic occasion.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, even though the war is over in Sierra Leone, as I told you, the armed struggle we embarked upon on 23 March 1991 has been trying for all of us. We had lived for just too long in a Sierra Leone where creeping corruption, indifference, and freedom from concern was the lot of the privileged few to the detriment of the defenseless large majority in a stifling environment of unequaled atrocity and egoism.

Because of this violence within our society, another violence was born and it has taken a high toll. Many have died, while others have been injured like the one you saw here this evening. For all the dead, injured, and maimed, we express our deep regret, and implore their pardon. We are confident that together we are going to turn over this page of tragedy and suffering of our history, and look forward to a new era of opportunities in order to build a greater Sierra Leone, molded by a better generation of Sierra Leoneans, where every one has his place.

We stretch our hands to all our brothers, namely, the ECOWAS troops and the Kamajors. The time has come for us to forgive one another mutually, and to demonstrate tolerance to heal our wounds so as to achieve real national reconciliation. The time for recrimination is over. We will no longer come back to our old wounds.

Since the start of our negotiations, we have been condemned and vilified without being accorded the least chance to give our own version of the story. This is totally contrary to the natural administration of justice. In spite of this we are turning the page. We have always been confident that one day we will see the end of the tunnel. So, we are expressing the hope that the world, which had adopted a single stance in condemning us, will now have the necessary time to learn the truth, and will unequivocally recount the truth loud and clear as it had done in condemning us.

My dear brothers, Your Excellencies, Honorable presidents: I thank you for all your efforts yesterday evening to convince me, Foday Sankoh, that the path of peace was the best. We in the RUF had no illusions that the Lomé initiatives would run into difficulties. In fact, we were confident that these difficulties would surface in view of the massive propaganda mounted against us, and of the magnitude of the state of misery into which our country has been plunged and for [words indistinct] facets of life, including divisions within families, communities, villages, towns, and our entire society.

We made a conscious decision to go to Lomé and to talk peace with the Sierra Leonean Government in order to send a clear message that despite all that has been attributed to our movement, we are patriots and are now determined to put a stop to the struggle which we had embarked upon and, therefore, to restore peace, stability, progress, and prosperity to our dear fatherland. For close to two months we were engaged in negotiations in Lomé and, today, we have come to a stage where a new peace agreement is about to be signed. This is a follow-up to the botched Abidjan peace accord and the Conakry peace plan.

For our part, we do hope that we are going to pay attention to the calls by the people, and do all in our power to ensure that the Lomé peace agreement is effectively and successfully implemented and that we engage in lasting peace. We are now turning over a new leaf. We are starting a new turn, and we see the light at the end of the tunnel [words indistinct] thanks to the joint efforts of all of us Hon. presidents and dear brothers: The collective energies of each one must be focused on the process of healing, reconciliation, and reconstruction, and also for confidence-building and restoration of mutual respect as this is the only condition for achieving peace for all. In this

new spirit of peace full of promise, we do not have to allow ourselves to be bogged down by the past which is, in fact, over and which we cannot change. On the contrary, we must have our two feet firm on the ground today while we taste the joy of creating a better future.

Our struggle has taught us the salutary lesson that we should step out of our idealism and become conscious of the concrete realities of Sierra Leone and identify ourselves with the people [words indistinct]. Whatever we undertake later, we should not lose sight of the fact that what we

are doing must be to the benefit of the ordinary Sierra Leonean. We must now face the challenge of building a new Sierra Leone, with the full knowledge that we can do this, believing that we can achieve this, and doing what we can in the superior interest of all. It is expected of us to do the impossible, to achieve what is difficult, and to surmount all obstacles. Yes, I think we can do all that if we have the political will and the (?means) for action.

Today more than ever before, our country needs a new leadership with a new vision, and the sense of a moral crusade to check degeneration and (?guide the people) [words indistinct], a leadership which has the courage to efficiently handle problems and adopt the necessary decisions to rescue our people and country from the abyss of destruction, desolation, and (?disaster). The RUF cannot and must not feel satisfied until the Sierra Leonean people are able to achieve what they have been denied for a long time. A challenge has been thrown to us; we accept this challenge and pledge that we will make the necessary efforts to ensure that Sierra Leone never experiences gunfire and violence again. We will make Sierra Leone a haven of peace and security where all citizens will feel good to live. We are confident that we will have the support of all and sundry to achieve this.

Ladies and gentlemen, may we enjoy the fruits of a legacy of peace and not [word indistinct]. May the Almighty God, Allah, guide and [words indistinct]. Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind attention. Thank you.