The Sierra Leone Web


August 1996

30 August: Sierra Leone government officials will meet foreign donors in Switzerland on the 17th and 18th of September to request $211 million, the first part of a $1 billion ($1 thousand million) package. The money would be used to demobilise combatants, resettle displaced civilians, and restore basic industries. A team of government officials has left Freetown to lobby for the plan in Bonn, London, Paris, Rome, and the Hague.

Military officials have said that the Freetown-Bo Highway is unsafe for commercial traffic following attacks, during which 50 bus passengers were kidnapped by an armed group. The National Drivers Union has ordered its members not to travel the road.

29 August: The death toll from the rebel attack on Foindu has now been put at 61 after more bodies of civilians were discovered early Tuesday. Troops deployed to reinforce the military base in the town are burying the bodies. Maj. Amadu Koroma said that there have been half a dozen attacks in the past week, and that the RUF appears to have abandoned the ceasefire agreed to in April. "Government troops are now standing by for any eventuality," Koroma told reporters. Revolutionary United Front spokesman Ibrahim Jalloh denied RUF involvement in the attacks. "If you hear of fighting, it is because the government has a number of groups. They have the Kamajors, they have the Tamaboro, they have the vigilantes, and so on. And sometimes these people clash. And so they use us as a scapegoat...As far as the ceasefire is concerned, we are still holding on to the ceasefire."

28 August: 31 civilians and 7 soldiers have been killed in a rebel attack on the village of Foindu. Eastern Region Brigade Commander Maj. Fallah Sewa said the rebels overran Foindu, located between Mano Junction and Tongo Field, despite the presence of government troops in the town. An army spokesman in Freetown said that this was the third attack on a military post in the past week.

27 August: The Sierra Leone government is tightening restrictions on foreign workers, alleging that they are taking jobs from Sierra Leoneans. Employment Minister Mohamed Gassama said Tuesday that 1,000 foreign workers in non-essential positions--mostly Indians, Lebanese, Senegalese, Guineans, and Liberians--will have to leave the country. He said that some 2,000 Sierra Leonean civil servants have been laid off as part of the IMF-mandated economic reforms, while foreigners were holding jobs that could be filled by Sierra Leoneans. "Those employees who have unexpired work permits are reminded in no uncertain terms that their work permit applications will not be renewed and they will have to leave the country immediately," he said. Under the new rules, foreigners will have to apply for work permits from their home countries, and applications will no longer be accepted from foreigners already in Sierra Leone. Gassama said the new rules will affect those working in the building and fishing industries in particular. He said foreigners without work permits must leave at once or face legal action, and he warned aid organisations employing foreigners in non-essential posts not covered by technical agreements with the Ministry of Employment to terminate their contracts within three months.

25 August: The Ivory Coast Under 18 National Team defeated Sierra Leone 2-0 in the first leg of the Cup of Nations "CAN 97." The match was played Sunday in Abidjan. The goals were scored by Stephane Inago in the 34th minute, and Roger Agnissan in the 72nd minute. The second leg will be played in two weeks time in Freetown.

23 August: An OAU mediation team has concluded three days of consultations with representatives of the Sierra Leone government and the Revolutionary United Front, in efforts to develop a framework for a comprehensive peace accord. The team is made up of former Zimbabwe president Caanan Banana, and Capt. Kojo Tsikata, member of the Council of State of Ghana and National Security Advisor. They met Tuesday with RUF leader Foday Sankoh and Ivorian Foreign Minister Amara Essy in Abidjan.

21 August: Sierra Leone has joined a regional effort using aerial monitoring to protect West African national fisheries from poaching. The first flight over Sierra Leone's territorial waters took place on Tuesday. The monitoring was organised by a sub-regional commission on fisheries, and is funded by Luxemburg. Countries taking part in the aerial monitoring of fishing zones are Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. According to Naib Iscandari, Deputy Director of Fisheries at the Marine Resources Ministry, "Sierra Leone is not a member of the sub-regional commission on fisheries but it is a member of the regional project for aerial monitoring of fishing zones...The use of planes for surveillance of the country's territorial waters will greatly reduce poaching which has almost crippled the country's fishing industry." Cape Verde, Mauritania, and Senegal have each provided the commission with one plane.

20 August: Former Zimbabwean president Caanan Banana is to mediate between the Sierra Leone government and the Revolutionary United Front, according to government sources. "The Reverend Caanan Banana was requested by the OAU secretary general to mediate between the government of Sierra Leone and the RUF to move the peace process forward and reach a comprehensive peace treaty," according to one source, who went on to say that the OAU special envoy to Liberia had held talks with RUF leader Foday Sankoh in Ivory Coast.

17 August: The Sierra Leone government has freed 33 political detainees, according to state radio (SLBS). The 33 included one woman and six military officers. 27 were detained by the military government last year for unspecified political reasons. The six officers were imprisoned in connection with an alleged 1995 coup attempt against former military leader Valentine Strasser. Two officers involved in that coup attempt remain in detention.

14 August: About 1,200 people have been released by the RUF, or have voluntarily left their ranks in areas where the fighting has ceased, according to Vice President Albert Demby. He said this showed that the RUF is serious about peace efforts. "We implore the RUF to maintain this commitment by continuing to facilitate the process of reuniting families with their loved ones," Demby told reporters.

1 August: Police are investigating the disappearance of some 500 Sierra Leonean passports, which occurred in late 1993. According to police, these included both diplomatic and ordinary passports which were bartered in exchange for vital commodities for Sierra Leone. An official at the Ministry of Judicial Affairs said they are putting together information to charge some former NPRC officials with conspiracy and larceny. He said that immigration officials will not be charged, as they were only following instructions. Former Foreign Minister Abass Bundu, who was charged July 26 with selling Sierra Leonean passports, is due to make another court appearance on August 12.