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The Government is pleased to note that the RUF rebel movement has at last come to accept what has always been the stated position of the Government namely, that "there should be a new political landscape...." in Sierra Leone, devoid of violence, destruction of public and private property, atrocities against innocent civilians, abductions and instability. We believe that the new landscape should be underpinned by a firm and sincere commitment by all Sierra Leoneans to the principles of Democracy and Constitutional Order, respect for Human Rights, the Rule of Law, and the realization that Executive and Legislative authority flows from the will of the people.

2. We believe also that it is only within such a landscape or framework that lasting peace can be achieved in Sierra Leone. Specifically, we believe that this framework guarantees the best chance of fully satisfying whatever grievances the RUF may have in so far as they reflect a concern for the socio-economic well-being of all the people of Sierra Leone.

3. The RUF have said publicly that they recognise the legitimacy of the Government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. This means that it cannot be a serious demand of the RUF to see such a Government dissolved unconstitutionally, and replaced by a 'Transition Government'. Assuming that the RUF were serious about the demand for a 'Transition Government', will such an option provide the answer to our search for long-term security and stability? Most certainly not. The primary reason for this conclusion is that the vast majority of the people of this country will oppose such a settlement. To argue that we should ignore the wishes of the majority, in the interest of peace, will in our specific circumstances be counterproductive. Not only will there not be peace, there will certainly be an escalation of the conflict and most probably a complete disintegration of the state. We had an example of such a situation between May 1997 and February 1998 when Sierra Leoneans fiercely resisted unconstitutional rule imposed on them by the RUF and its partners.

4. There are situations where it will make sense to argue in favour of a government extending concessions to a rebel movement against the wishes of the majority. These include where a movement is fighting,

  1. for autonomy of a region;
  2. to end the persecution or exploitation of a well defined group of people such (as) an ethnic group or religious group.

5. In such cases once the concessions have been offered and accepted, there is a reasonable chance that peace and stability will be restored and the Government can be in a position to justify its decision on consideration of justice.

6. The situation is different with regard to the RUF which is not known to be fighting for any of the objectives listed above or any popularly supported, or even clearly known, political or social objective, other than an inexplicable opposition to all governments in Sierra Leone.

7. Having said this, it is still considered useful to react to some of the specific proposals of the RUF.


The RUF’s proposal for the setting up of a four year Transition Government in Sierra Leone envisages the abrogation of the existing Constitutional Order and a total rejection of the principles of Constitutionalism. It suggests the setting of a Government outside the Constitution and in place of the Constitutionally Elected Government.

The only reason that can be proffered by the RUF for its proposal for a transition government is to enable Government to perform the functions of government listed in its list of proposals.

Those functions can and are being performed now by the present Government. A democratically elected government cannot be removed merely for the purposes of transferring its constitutional functions to an unconstitutional transition government.

It may be useful at this point to give a brief account of the evolution of the Constitution in Sierra Leone. This will clearly show why the people of this country are particularly attached to the present Constitution and why they would resist any attempt to alter it in any way other than as provided for by that Constitution itself. They demonstrated their adherence to that Constitution during the period of the AFRC/RUF junta in May 1997 to February 1998. It is not within the power of the Government to acceded to an alteration of that Constitution without reference to the Constitution itself and the people. It is not within the competence of the Government to conclude with the RUF a peace agreement containing a provision for the substitution of a transition government for Sierra Leone in place of the present democratically elected government.


Sierra Leone attained independence from Britain in 1961 under a Monarchical Constitution fashioned on the Westminster Model. But for a military coup in 1967 which interrupted the smooth working of that Constitution for one year, the 1961 Independence Constitution formed the basic law for this country for 10 years up to 1971.

In 1971 a new Republican Constitution was promulgated with provision for a Ceremonial President and a Prime Minister, but within days that Constitution was amended to provide for an Executive President outside Parliament while making provision for a Parliamentary Government.

Thereafter a number of alterations and amendments were made in and to that constitution to the extent that by 1978 the remaining essential provisions in it no longer bore any resemblance to the provisions of the original texts.

Such manipulations with the National Constitution as they were with the 1971 Constitution were made possible because: -

  1. The provisions for repeal in the 1961 Independence Constitution were flagrantly ignored when repealing that Constitution to bring the 1971 Constitution in force. For example, the requirement for the endorsement by the people at a general election of any proposal for amendment or repeal of the Constitution and of the proposed amendment itself or proposed new Constitution were ignored by the Government.
  2. The provisions in the 1971 Constitution for amendment or repeal were made easy and did not require popular endorsement at a general election or referendum. Amendments or repeals could be effected only by an Act of Parliament. Thus, within a space of 7 years several substantial amendments were made to the 1971 Constitution.

The result of this unsatisfactory constitutional position between 1971 and 1978 was that the Government swiftly gravitated towards dictatorship and one-party rule, with all the adverse consequences that flew from such a situation. This therefore easily paved the way for the promulgation in 1978 of a one-party constitution, without prior public debate or any form of popular endorsement.

It is common knowledge that the democratic institutions and practices in this country such as the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and due process, political freedoms, the observance of the principles of fundamental human rights, probity, transparency and accountability in public affairs met their demise mainly between the period 1971 and 1991 when the 1978 Constitution too was repealed. Within that period also, social evils such as corruption, nepotism associated with the demise of those democratic institutions flourished. The army and other security agencies were politicised and compromised.

These were the circumstances, which gave rise to the persistent public clamour for a genuine Democratic Constitution, that is, the 1991 Constitution.

The main purpose for the promulgation of the 1991 Constitution was to cure the ills and mischiefs associated with the Constitutions before it, starting with the 1971 Constitution and to make the organs of Government responsive to the wishes of the people and to render those organs accountable to he people. It aims at removing arbitrariness in the conduct of public affairs and at meeting the legitimate aspirations of the people. It contains adequate provisions, which, if implemented, will promote the general good and not just sectional or individual interests. Its provisions were put together only after due consultations with and contributions from all sectors of the Sierra Leone society. Thus, the people of this country are, and regard themselves as, the actual framers of the 1991 Constitution. The people of this country regard this document as the best guarantee of their individual freedoms and the protector of their civil and political rights. It is also regarded as the basis for national stability.

The 1991 Constitution came into force only in October 1991. It had not yet been in full force for 6 months when the Government of that period then in transition was overthrown in a military coup in April 1992. Most of the provisions in that new Constitution relating to the Government and Parliament were suspended, and remained suspended until after the General and Presidential elections in February 1996. The elections ushered in the present Government.

The present government was in office only for 14 months (March 1996 to May 1997) when it was ousted in a military coup. This also resulted in the suspension of the Constitution. The Government was restored to office only in March 1998.

It is worth noting that after the coup of 1997 the population as a whole revolted against the Junta and refused to submit to its rule. They demanded their democratically elected government to be restored and with the assistance and support of the entire International Community succeeded in their demand.

From the above account it follows:

  1. that the people of this country will not again be willing to allow the democratically elected government to abdicate and give way to a transition government as proposed by the RUF, a proposal which will be tantamount to ignoring the Constitution itself.
  2. that the Government lacks the power to acceded to the RUF’s proposal for the setting up of a Transition Government in place of the present Government for a period of four years or for any other period. The Government itself is a creature of the 1991 Constitution. It derives its powers and authority only from that Constitution.
  3. that the people will be vehemently opposed to any suggestion that Government disregards any provision in the Constitution relating to the existence of an elected government as the sole government for Sierra Leone in favour of a transition government for any purpose of satisfying the demands of the RUF.
  4. that the transition government proposed by the RUF or any other government set up in place of the democratically elected government will be undemocratic and unconstitutional.
  5. that the purposes or functions intended to be performed by the proposed transition government are already being or can be performed by the present Government within the Constitution.

It should however not be implied from what has been stated here that the 1991 constitution is absolutely immutable. It is by no means a perfect document. In is indeed capable of being altered or amended and even repealed, but this can be done only in accordance with the relevant provisions for alteration, amendment or repeal, as the case may be, in the Constitution itself.

The 1991 Constitution has not been operated or tested yet for any adequate length of time for mischiefs or weakness to be detected in it to the extent of warranting an amendment, let alone a repeal as proposed by the RUF. There is no suggestion that it is not workable.

AND the RUF has not identified any specific weaknesses or mischief in the present Constitution.

The Government’s position therefore is that if the RUF is keen on any proposal not in consonance with any provisions in the Constitution, it should after its transformation into a political party, canvass such proposal with the people. This is the only way to do it. The sole source of power and sovereignty belong to the people.


  1. The Unconditional Release of Cpl. Foday Saybana Sankoh:
  2. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has always said that he would not hesitate to grant Cpl. Foday Sankoh his freedom within the judicial and constitutional process if this is the price to be paid for lasting peace in Sierra Leone.

  3. Amnesty to AFRC personnel and their collaboration:
  4. As in the case of Cpl. Foday Sankoh amnesty for this category of persons will be examined with a view of achieving permanent peace in Sierra Leone. The Government will however take into consideration gross human rights violations committed against the citizens of this country.

  5. Cessation Of Hostilities and Ceasefire:
  6. The Government accepts the RUF’s position on the cessation of hostilities and a cease-fire throughout the country upon the signing of a new Peace Agreement by the parties.

  7. The New Sierra Leone Army, Police and other Security Services
  8. The transition government proposed by the RUF is intended to set up a Commission to address the structure, composition and training needs of a New Sierra Leone Army, Police and Security Services, a corruption-free and efficient civil service, an independent judiciary and legal system and a new Electoral Commission.

    It should be noted that elaborate provisions are already made in the 1991 Constitution in respect of most of these institutions and organs.

    Government’s policy on the restructuring, composition, and training needs of the Sierra Leone Army formulated after due consultation with Parliament has long been made public. The text of this can be made available to the RUF. That policy took into account the need to have a truly national army bearing loyalty to the state of Sierra Leone instead of to individual persons or groups, efficient, manageable and willing and capable of performing its constitutional role. Any input by the RUF into that policy having regard to these parameters will be welcomed by Government.

  9. The Sierra Leone Police Force:
  10. With the Police and other Security Services, at the outset of its administration the Government embarked on a deliberate policy to restructure the police force, to make it efficient and community based and responsive to the needs of the society which it is meant to serve. This program which is in progress has been sponsored by the Commonwealth and it has started yielding results. Again an input in this policy by the RUF will be appreciated by Government.

  11. Corruption of Public Officials:
  12. It has already been stated how corruption crept into public life in this country. The Constitutions before 1991 made no provision for accountability and transparency by government and public officials, and the absence of the right to freedom of expression prevented members of the public and the media to comment freely on the conduct of public officials.

    The present Constitution confers on Parliament adequate powers of inquiry and investigation into government ministries and departments and other public matters.

    Again, Sierra Leone today has in circulation up to 50 independent newspapers, which are quite vibrant and critical as regards public matters.

    In addition to those in-built constitutional provisions to check malpractices in the public service, as early as 1996 the Government set up an independent unit for Monitoring, Accountability and Transparency (UMAT), with the specific assignment of monitoring expenditures of Government departments and parastatals, and insisting on accountability and transparency in such matters. The Coup of May 1997 adversely affected the operation of this Unit.

    In order to reduce further the level of corruption in the public sector, the Government has requested the British Government to assist in the setting up of a special Crimes Prevention Unit to be manned by experienced expatriate police men and a senior local police officer with powers to detect, investigate and prosecute offences connected with the mismanagement of public funds or property. It is hoped that this unit will be in place soon.

  13. Procurement of Goods:
  14. As regards the procurement of goods the Government is negotiating with the Crown Agents in London for bulk procurement of goods abroad. The ongoing war has held back the conclusion of such negotiations as with any other projects the Government has embarked upon.

    Again, any further suggestions from the RUF to improve on these measures so far taken to promote probity, accountability and transparency in the conduct of public affairs will be welcomed.

  15. Neutral Peace Monitoring Group:
  16. The Government accepts the proposal by the RUF relating to the need for a Neutral Peace Monitoring Group to oversee the encampment, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of combatants.

  17. Mercenaries and Foreign Troops in Sierra Leone:
  18. The Government states that there are no mercenaries operating on the side of the Government Forces in Sierra Leone although there is abundant evidence of the presence of mercenaries fighting on the side of the RUF and its allies. Any Peace Agreement should expressly proscribe the presence of all mercenaries in Sierra Leone.

    The only foreign troops in Sierra Leone on the side of the Government are here under treaty arrangements and under the auspices of ECOWAS. Their presence is sanctioned by both ECOWAS and the United Nations Security Council. It will be recalled that a similar demand for the withdrawal of foreign troops was made in the Abidjan Peace Accord in relation to the Executive Outcomes. The RUF took advantage of the Government’s yielding to that demand, and escalated the conflict after the withdrawal of that security outfit.

    This Government succeeded to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and it regards it as in the national interest to keep this agreement in force.

  19. Repatriation of Refugees
  20. The Government accepts the proposal of the RUF relating to the repatriation and resettlement of refugees and it will take appropriate action in this regard as soon as conditions become favourable. The Government considers it as a human tragedy that innocent citizens of this country through the threat of violence from their compatriots can be compelled to abandon their homes and live in very difficult conditions in foreign lands.

  21. National Electoral Commission
  22. The Government has held back the appointment of a new National Electoral Commission while awaiting the transformation of the RUF into a Political Party. The Constitution requires the President to consult with all the existing political parties on the matter of the appointment of members of that Commission. Government does not wish to deprive the RUF as a political party of the right to be consulted on this matter.

  23. National Population Census:
  24. Government is conscious of the need to carry out a national population census the last of which was conducted in 1985. This is an exercise which, with the availability of funds and the security situation permitting, will not be delayed any longer.

  25. Transformation of RUF into a Political Party:
  26. The greatest service the RUF can do the people of this country is to transform itself into a political party and enter into the main stream of the democratic process. Government will accord every opportunity to the RUF to do so.

  27. Education and Health:
  28. The Government has since 1998 introduced free primary education up to the level of class five, and primary health care delivery in accessible villages and towns is free for the vulnerable population. Government wishes to extend free education and primary health care over a wider area but for the constraints imposed by the ongoing war.

  29. The National Economy:

On the economic front the performance of this Government in its first full year in office to 25th May 1997 received the acclamation of such international financial institutions as the IMF and the World Bank.

Within a year the Government had transformed the economy from a growth rate of a negative 25% in nominal terms to a growth rate projected at 10% in its second year in office; the inflation rate was brought down to 6%.

The exchange rate was brought down to Le850 to the US dollar. On the restoration of the Government in March 1998 after the coup of 25 May 1997 inflation had again soared to 10% while the exchange rose to Le1,620, now it is in excess of Le2000 to the US dollar.

The reason for such a deteriorating economic performance is not due to "failed economic policies" at least on the part of the present Government as the RUF suggests, but to the massive and unprecedented destruction of the productive assets, the basic social and economic infrastructure which has persisted as a result of war. Until this war is brought to an end, the downward trend in the economy will continue and the spiral of poverty will not be halted.

Because of the frequent interruptions caused by the war and the coup of 1997, the full benefits from the economic policies of this Government have not been felt. It is now time to put a halt to the carnage and destruction of lives of our own people and turn to the development of our country.


Instead of the RUF insisting on the setting up of a transition government to perform the functions proposed for it, and continue with armed conflict, for the good of the people of Sierra Leone, the Government proposes the following:

  1. that the RUF transform itself into a legitimate Political Party. The Government will facilitate this process.
  2. that the RUF as a political party should together with other political parties and the entire civil society examine the Constitution identifying weaknesses or defects in it with a view to its amendments or even repeal.
  3. that the RUF should abandon all forms of violence, respect the human rights of the citizens and immediately release all innocent civilians including women and children and abducted by them.
  4. that the RUF should henceforth desist from the wanton destruction of the infrastructure of this country and allow development activities to take place.
  5. that in the true African tradition, and as genuine Sierra Leoneans the RUF leadership should sit together with other Sierra Leoneans, air their grievances in a peaceful manner and atmosphere. They will receive a sympathetic hearing.
  6. that the RUF should realise that the 8-year old conflict has devastated the entire infrastructure and the economy, and destroyed whole settlements now left in ruins. A halt needs to be put to this for the good of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans.
  7. The Government is determined to continue with the search for genuine and lasting peace with its policy geared towards reconciliation not recrimination or revenge. The RUF should take advantage of this policy and participate in it.