The Sierra Leone Web


November 1996

30 November: President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and RUF leader Foday Sankoh today signed a peace accord to end more than five years of civil war. The two raised their fists together in celebration after signing the 28-point agreement, and vowed to work together to rebuild Sierra Leone. In his statement, President Kabbah said, "I have just signed a peace agreement with Corporal Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front, to end the civil war in our country. And with it, a tortuous period for the people of Sierra Leone has come to an end." President Kabbah told diplomats and Ivorian government officials that his government no longer considers the RUF as its enemy. "Our common enemies now are hunger, poverty, ignorance, and greed," he said. "Crying for revenge or retribution will surely weaken our country and intensify our pain." The agreement calls for the demobilisation of RUF fighters, the removal of foreign forces, including the South African mercenary force "Executive Outcomes," for the government to establish work-training programs for former RUF fighters, and for the incorporation of some former rebels into the Sierra Leone army. It also provides for the transformation of the RUF into a political party. The agreement also reportedly calls for equal opportunity for all, free and compulsory education, affordable housing, clean water, and a sewage system in every village and town.

Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Amara Essy has provided details of a secret meeting he held with Foday Sankoh in February at the RUF leader's command post, where he persuaded Sankoh to negotiate. "I told him that as long as he stayed isolated in the bush, he would be considered a butcher by the world." He told Sankoh, "No one even knows why you are fighting. Once you have explained yourself, you can put the war behind you." Parliamentary opposition leader John Karefa-Smart, who accompanied President Kabbah to Abidjan, said, "The lessons that we must all learn from this is that we must never again allow military government...We were being led by boys with no business in government who were fighting a rebel leader with no vision, plan for his country, or scruples."

The South African mercenary group Executive Outcomes has formed an offshoot called "Lifeguard" to supply security for diamond mining companies. There are estimated to be 100 of the South African soldiers in Sierra Leone, down from about 400 during the height of the war.

29 November: Ivorian mediators have announced that the Sierra Leone government and the Revolutionary United Front finalized a peace agreement late Thursday. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and RUF leader Foday Sankoh will sign the accord on Saturday in a ceremony at the presidential mansion in Abidjan. Sierra Leoneans had been expecting the accord to be signed on Friday. SLBS (state radio) said the government is calling for national celebrations to celebrate the return of peace.

28 November: Sierra Leone government officials and RUF leaders are gathering in Ivory Coast in hopes of signing a peace agreement that will end the country's civil war. Among the members of the Sierra Leone government delegation expected to take part in the signing ceremony are Justice Minister Solomon Berewa, Army Chief-of-Staff Colonel Max Kanga, and the U.N. Special Envoy to Sierra Leone, Berhanu Dinka. It is not certain whether President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah will attend. Recently, RUF leader Foday Sankoh visited his fighters in Sierra Leone to seek a mandate to end the war. After returning to Ivory Coast he reported positive talks with his fighters, but declined to confirm that a peace agreement would be signed this week, saying that he first wanted to consult with the Ivorian mediators. "I can't say anything until the next 72 hours. I am waiting for the foreign minister and president of Ivory Coast...Everything I do must be approved by the foreign minister (Amara Essy) as chairman of the peace talks." Traditional rulers from rebel-held territories in eastern Sierra Leone said RUF fighters had demanded international monitors to guarantee their safety and the disbanding of civil defense units made up of Kamajors before signing.

22 November: RUF leader Foday Sankoh returned to Sierra Leone Friday to explain details of a proposed peace agreement to his commanders. He was flown to his base by the International Committee of the Red Cross which was also to return him to Abidjan, Ivory Coast in time for the signing of the peace accord on November 29. "The RUF leader Cpl. Foday Sankoh has just landed in one of his bases in the country. We flew him in this morning from Abidjan to the Guinean town of Kissidougou and from there to his base in Sierra Leone," a Red Cross official said. Sankoh said that he was going to seek a mandate from his fighters. "I am going to consult my people on this peace accord--whether I can get a mandate to sign it," he said. Sankoh was accompanied by a senior government official from Ivory Coast and by Red Cross representatives. SLBS (state radio) said President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had given orders that the truce be rigorously respected to ensure Sankoh's security.

The World Food Program has reported that the stock situation in Sierra Leone has improved, with a two-month supply now in place. WFP Freetown has also received four vehicles urgently needed to continue up-country monitoring and assessment.

21 November: President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah reshuffled and downsized his cabinet Thursday. Dropped were Maigore Kallon (Foreign Minister), Dr. Kemoh Salia-Baio (Minister of Internal Affairs), Mohamed Gassama (Minister of Employment and Industrial Relations), Sawi (Deputy Minister of Finance), and Capt. Abdul Rahman Kamara (Minister of Lands, Housing, Town and Country Planning). Appointed were Dr. Yembeh Mansaray (Minister of Tourism), Shirley Gbujama (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Kemoh Daramy (Deputy Finance Minister), Abdul Thorlu-Bangura (Minister of Information), and George Banda Thomas (Minister of Trade and Industry).

20 November: In a joint press release issued in Freetown on 20 November, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and RUF leader Corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh have agreed to meet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 29 November to sign the draft peace agreement.

19 November: 750 Sierra Leonean rebels are reported to have surrendered in Liberia. 350 are said to have given themselves up at the Sierra Leonean Embassy in Monrovia, and 200 surrendered to ULIMO-K in Cape Mount. Sierra Leone reported that many rebels have laid down their arms to take advantage of the government's amnesty.

15 November: The Sierra Leone government granted a general amnesty to rebel fighters in a statement broadcast on 15 November, and has expressed willingness to integrate qualified RUF officers into the regular army (RSLMF).

14 November: Patricia Kabbah, the wife of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, delivered a message from the women of Sierra Leone to the World Food Conference in Rome. She told the conference that the problems of women and children in particular must be addressed in order to alleviate poverty and starvation.

13 November: 12 people have died from rabies in Bo and an additional 40 have been hospitalised with dog bites, health officials there said on Wednesday. A government veterinary officer said that the number of dogs in Bo has increased dramatically since the Kamajor started clearing nearby towns of rebels. Dog bites have increased tenfold, he reported.

The Canadian corporation Consolidated Venturex Holdings Ltd. has completed an option agreement to acquire a 100 percent interest in the Sula Mountains prospecting license, according to a company press release. The prospecting license area covers approximately 84 sq. km. in Central Sierra Leone. Based on a site visit earlier in the year, the company believes the potential exists for a substantial gold deposit and is initiating a full scale exploration program.

9 November: Morocco defeated Sierra Leone Saturday 4-0 (halftime 1-0) in the second round of the World Cup qualifying matches. The game was played in Rabat before a crowd of 30,000. Scorers were Larbi Hababi 18, Khalid Raghib 50, 55, and Youssef Fertout 57. Other second round results: (Saturday) Nigeria over Burkina Faso 2-0; Guinea over Kenya 3-1; Egypt defeated Namibia 7-1; South Africa beat Zaire 1-0; (Sunday) Cameroon over Togo 4-2; Congo defeated Zambia 1-0; Angola over Zimbabwe 2-1; Tunisia over Liberia 1-0; and Ghana drew with Gabon 1-1.

7 November: At least 19 prostitutes are missing and presumed drowned after the boat they were travelling in capsized off Freetown. Police said that the women were making for a cargo boat and its Korean crew when the accident occurred on Monday. Prostitutes frequently make the trip across the bay to anchored fishing and cargo vessels, but on this occasion police said the canoe was overloaded.

5 November: The Sierra Leone soccer team will play its first second-round game of the World Cup qualifying matches against Morocco on November 9 in Rabat. The Sierra Leone team has just a week to prepare for the game after replacing Burundi in Group 5. Burundi had defeated Sierra Leone in the preliminary round last June with an aggregate score of 2-0, but withdrew due to sanctions, including a ban on air travel to the country. Sierra Leone will play Gabon on January 12, Ghana on April 6, Morocco on April 27, Gabon on June 8, and Ghana on August 17.

4 November: A soldier being questioned about his alleged complicity in an alleged coup plot killed himself, an army spokesman said Monday. The spokesman said Staff Sgt. Lamin Kamara jumped from the second floor while being interrogated on October 30, the day of his arrest. The soldier's father, Sgt. Maj. Alie Kamara, said he suspected his son had been tortured. "If my son was not tortured unbearably, why then did it take four days for the body to be shown to me?" Kamara asked. He said the police had not been called to investigate the death, and that the body had been taken to a funeral home instead of to a government mortuary in an attempt to avoid an autopsy. "The family has demanded that a post-mortem be performed to determine the cause of death, and the military has agreed that a post-mortem will be performed tomorrow," he said Monday. Information Minister George Banda Thomas said the death would be investigated.

United Kingdom Customs reported imports of 1,830 tonnes of cacao (cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted) during the period from January to September 1996, as compared with 1,004 tonnes for the same period last year.

1 November: Sierra Leone will replace Burundi in the second phase of the World Cup qualifying matches. Burundi withdrew, citing sanctions by the East African states. Sierra Leone lost to Burundi in the first phase.