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Government has received the policy paper of the RUFP and has noted the allegations in it concerning violations of the Lome Peace Accord. Government wishes to express its delight at the clear evidence that there is a desire on the part of the RUFP leadership to speak frankly and openly about matters relating to the peace process which are of concern to that party. It is in light of this that the Government welcomes the RUFP position paper in question.

It is important for a proper appreciation of the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement and for the advancement of the peace process that the Government makes comments on some of the matters raised in the RUFP position paper.

  1. Ceasefire Monitoring

    Indeed the Lome Peace Agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) at national level and Ceasefire Monitoring Committees (CMCs) at District level. Both Committees, mandated to monitor the ceasefire, are to be chaired by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL). While the RUF leadership remained outside of Sierra Leone after the signing of the Peace Agreement the government, ECOMOG and the CDF, who are also members of the Committee, regularly attended meetings of the JMC convened by UNOMSIL to deliberate on matters related to ceasefire violations. Even when the RUF leadership finally returned to Sierra Leone months after the signing of the Agreement, attendance of its representatives at JMC meetings has been chequered.

    With regard to the Ceasefire Monitoring Committees, Government has done everything it is required to do under the Lome Peace Agreement. It was the first to submit its nominees along with the CDF, to UNOMSIL for all the District Ceasefire Committees. Unlike the RUF, Government has maintained unhindered access to all the areas under its control where there has been effective monitoring of the ceasefire by ECOMOG and UNOMSIL ever since.

    It is acknowledged that transportation, communications and other facilities expected to be provided by the International Community are still awaited. But this problem, which is outside the control of government, has been compounded by the RUFP insisting on stringent conditions for its participation in the CMCs such as movement of its representatives by helicopter, and generous facilities. This is not to mention the strict limit the RUF continues to place on access to areas under its control, as exemplified by recent proclamations by the RUF leader of the non-admission of ECOMOG, a member of the CMC, from the Makeni area which is occupied by the RUF.

    Government is convinced that even with the limited facilities available the CMCs could be deployed immediately if the RUFP displays the necessary commitment. All the other members of the CMCs are ready to be deployed under existing conditions while government continues to make efforts to mobilize the required support.

  2. Article III - Transformation of the RUF/SL into a political party.

    With regards to matters raised in this paragraph, it is clear that the RUFP and its leadership has been given more than adequate access to the media. Pronouncements by their party or its leadership are aired freely on the Government media, both radio and TV. There has been no reported incident of any refusal of access to the RUFP or its leadership to the media. On the contrary the use of the media by the RUF to air its views and positions both as a political party and on the peace process is actively encouraged by the Government.

  3. Mobilizing resources for the RUFP

    Under paragraph 4 of Article III of the Lome Peace Agreement both the RUF/SL and the Government are required to "approach the International Community with a view to mobilizing resources for the purposes of enabling the RUF/SL to function as a political party". In this regard the Government had already made the necessary approaches and appeals to the International Community. This fact was communicated to Chairman Sankoh.

    At the same time he was reminded that he too was required to make necessary approaches for the raising of funds from the International Community for the RUF/SL. We are awaiting the response of the International Community to these appeals but it needs to be noted that slowness in the disarmament process and negative statements by the RUF might be a reason for the delay in the provision of the necessary funds under this Article. It is also worth noting that even the support admittedly received by the RUF in their position paper is a direct result of the appeal made by the Government.

  4. Article IV - Enabling members of the RUF/SL to hold public office

    This Article is to be read together with Article V which provides for the appointment of members of the RUF/SL to Cabinet positions in the Government. Within days of the signing of the Agreement, government had put in place the necessary legislative machinery to enable members of the RUF not only to be appointed to Cabinet positions but also to remove any legal impediment to their appointment to such positions and other public offices. In the light of that Government went ahead and appointed eight RUF/SL to Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial positions in Government.

    With regards to other non-ministerial appointments, the leader of the RUFP is aware of the reasons why this matter is still pending. As provided in paragraph III of Article IV, His Excellency the President and Chairman Foday Sankoh have had discussions on appointment of RUF/SL members to positions in the diplomatic service and to parastatals. As regards appointments to the diplomatic service both parties are approaching the matter with due consideration to the present financial constraints of the country.

    As regards parastatals, the Government is at the moment considering policy options with regard to the management of parastatals. This may involve a total restructuring of the Boards and Managements of the existing parastatals and the award of management contracts to competent firms. It is the view of Government that this policy will ensure that the people of this country benefit from the operations of these parastatals. Therefore the timing of the appointment of RUF/SL members to parastatals has to be viewed in the light of this policy consideration.

  5. Release and reinstatement of detainees

    There is admission by the RUFP position paper of the Government's fulfillment of Article IX paragraph 2 of the Lome Peace Agreement, in that Government granted absolute and free pardon and reprieve to all combatants and collaborators of the RUF and AFRC and they were, in appropriate cases reinstated in the public service.

  6. Travel ban

    As regards the travel ban referred to in this paragraph of the position paper, the legal impediment referred to in Article V paragraph 5, does not envisage the travel ban. As is known, this ban was not imposed by the Government of Sierra Leone, but by the Security Council of the United Nations. In any case, the Government has on a number of occasions succeeded in securing the suspension of this ban to enable members of the RUFP to travel. The total lifting of this ban may very well be related to significant progress in the restoration of peace in the country.

  7. Article VI - Commission for the Consolidation of Peace

    Certainly, the appointment of Lt. Col. J.P. Koroma as Chairman of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace was effected after prior and due consultation with the leadership of the RUF, and the express consent of Chairman Foday Sankoh. It should also be noted that the appointee is a member of the RUF/AFRC Alliance.

    Government has done everything in its power and under the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement to effect the functioning of the CCP. Efforts are being made to secure other essential facilities for the CCP through appeals to donors.

  8. Article VII - Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources National Reconstruction and Development (CMRRD)

    An appropriate office accommodation had earlier been provided and adequately furnished at Youyi Building for the CMRRD, but its Chairman rejected it on grounds that it did not befit his status. An alternative office accommodation has since been secured but Chairman Foday Sankoh has not had the time to inspect and approve it.

    In order to ensure that the CMRRD is properly structured to achieve its mandate, Government has enlisted the assistance of a consultant versed in these matters, who has already held discussions with Chairman Sankoh and the Government, with a view to establishing the Commission at the earliest possible time.

  9. Council of Elders

    The appointment of members to this Council is indeed a requirement of Article VIII paragraph 1 of the Agreement, and nominations by the respective bodies including government have already been made. However, the Council is not envisaged to be a standing body but will convene as and when matters within its competence arise and require its consideration.

  10. National Electoral Commission

    The Government has already consulted the existing political parties including the RUFP on the appointment of members to the National Electoral Commission. And there has been reservations related only to the appointment of the Chairman of the Commission. This still has to be resolved. With the concurrence of all political parties, government is seeking the services of a consultant on electoral matters whose services will be highly useful for the proper conduct of the affairs of that Commission.

  11. New Mandate of ECOMOG and UNOMSIL

    As it is well known the initial effort to resolve the problem in Sierra Leone emanated from the OAU at its Harare Summit in 1997. It was the OAU which at that Summit mandated ECOWAS to take appropriate measures to resolve that crisis. Because of the potential threat to international peace and security posed by the situation in Sierra Leone, the United Nations Security Council, the only world body charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, became seized of the matter and has remained as seized ever since.

    It was with the express approval and on the authority of the UN Security Council that ECOMOG came to Sierra Leone to enforce the OAU mandate given to ECOWAS. UNOMSIL, now UNAMSIL, are in Sierra Leone under the direct authority of the UN Security Council. It is not competent of the Government of Sierra Leone or the RUFP to question the mandate of ECOMOG OR UNAMSIL in the same way that countries which are more powerful than Sierra Leone could not question or do anything about unanimous decisions taken by Security Council against them for purposes of averting any threat to international peace. The RUFP cannot therefore question the mandate of either ECOMOG or UNAMSIL.

    Incidentally, the Force Commander of UNAMSIL has notified His Excellency the President of his decision to deploy his troops throughout the country and the President has given his concurrence and he hopes that the RUF and its leadership will fully cooperate in this regard.

    Chairman Sankoh's outburst during the Press Conference, criticizing the UNAMSIL personnel is therefore unfortunate. UNAMSIL are here to help in bringing about peace and stability to our war ravaged country under a UN Security Council mandate and in the process bring peace to the sub-region.

    Sierra Leone will look like an outlaw country if we are perceived to treat our visitors and those who are here to help us with contempt and disrespect.

    His Excellency the President has undertaken to contact the UN Secretary General, in due course to apologise to him on behalf of all of us.

  12. Article XVI - Encampment, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

    The perception of the RUFP is that undue emphasis is being placed on the DDR Programme. The importance of the DDR programme should not be a matter for debate. This is as it should be. On any reading of the Lome Peace Agreement, it becomes clear that the successful implementation of the DDR programme which entails disarmament has been made the key to the successful implementation of the Agreement itself. This is the view held by the people of Sierra Leone and the international community whose funding for the implementation of the Agreement is based on progress in the implementation of the DDR programme.

  13. Training of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces

    Training of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces is consistent with Article XVII, paragraph 1 of the Lome Peace Agreement which states as follows:

    The restructuring, composition and training of the new Sierra Leone armed forces will be carried out by the government with a view to creating a truly national armed forces, bearing loyalty solely to the State of Sierra Leone, and able and willing to perform their constitutional role".

    The issue of integration of ex-combatants into the Sierra Leone Armed Forces is also clearly explained in Article XVII, paragraphs 2 and 3 which state:

    "Those ex-combatants of the RUF/SL, CDF and SLA who wish to be integrated into the new restructured national armed forces may do so provided they meet established criteria".

    "Recruitment into the armed forces shall reflect the geo-political structure of Sierra Leone within the established strength".


  14. Withdrawal of Mercenaries

    Government is not in any way engaged in recruiting mercenaries in the guise of Mines Security or guards since Government is not carrying out mining operations anywhere in the country. Further, government is not aware of any mining companies which have guards with the intention of converting them into a rapid deployment Force for any purpose.

    However, if the RUFP is not satisfied with this explanation, it can request an investigation into the matter by the Council of Elders and Religious leaders. It is worth noting that the diamond and gold mining areas of the country have been occupied by the RUF and are still being occupied by them, as admitted by Chairman Foday Sankoh at his press conference of 29th December 1999.

    It is a clear violation of the Lome Peace Agreement for the RUF/SL to continue after 7 July 1999, to maintain exclusive areas of occupation.

  15. Article XXII - Guarantee of the Security of Displaced persons and Refugees

    We are happy that the Chairman is showing concern for persons who are displaced and those who have become refugees as a result of the war. It is therefore hoped that this concern will translate into Chairman Sankoh appreciating the real importance of the DDR programme which alone will ensure the security of the displaced persons and refugees and their safe return to their normal places of abode. That having been said, it should be noted that it is the government with the help of the international community and NGOs that has cared for these deprived and suffering populations, and in any case the occupants of this particular camp have since been resettled.

  16. Articles XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI and XXVII:

    We are pleased that the RUFP is showing appreciation for the importance of observing human rights in our society. As a Government we have always valued the human rights of our citizens. With the actualising of the new commitment of the RUFP, we are sure that the days of the flagrant violations of the human rights of all Sierra Leoneans are drawing to a close.

    The Leadership of the RUFP is aware that as provided by paragraph 3 of Article XXV of the Lome Peace Agreement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is actively engaged in the process of establishing an independent Human Rights Commission and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as provided for in Articles XXV and XXVI respectively.

  17. Article XXVII - Humanitarian Relief:

    One obvious problem which has hindered the provision of humanitarian relief throughout the country is the lack of security for humanitarian relief agencies as recently evidenced in the capture of MSF personnel in Kailahun by members of the RUFP. It is heartening to note the assurances given by the RUFP leadership in its Position Paper that the unfortunate incident in Kailahun will not recur. This, it is hoped, will facilitate the delivery of humanitarian relief where there is the need throughout Sierra Leone.

  18. Article XXIX - Special Fund for War Victims:

    The Lome Peace Agreement recognised that there is the need for designing and implementing a programme for the rehabilitation of war victims and that this is to be done with the support of the international community. The taking up of a nationwide census of war victims, as suggested in the RUFP position paper, is a useful idea, provided there is unlimited access throughout the country to such war victims.

  19. Article XXXI - Education and Health:

    The acknowledgement by the RUFP of Government's effort to provide free education for children in Classes 1-3 inspite of the present constraints of government is noted. Certainly, it has always been government policy, even before the Lome Peace Agreement, that every Sierra Leonean should have free access to basic education. That Agreement merely restates that policy. The people of Sierra Leone are hereby assured of Government's commitment to provide free education for their children.

    It should be noted that the infrastructure of this country, including the educational infrastructure, were largely destroyed by the war. These need to be reconstructed.

    The progress in the expansion of the compulsory education will be greatly accelerated at the final return of lasting peace to Sierra Leone.

  20. Article XXXII - Joint Implementation Committee:

    There is also a misconception by the RUFP as regards the formation and role of the Joint Implementation Committee. The Membership of this Committee is clearly spelt out in the Lome Peace Agreement and the Committee had its first meeting in Freetown in August, 1999. The RUF/SL, (as it then was), was represented by a team led by Mr. S Y B Rogers and it included Mr. Mike Lamin. At that meeting the Committee requested the RUF and the Government to give an account of the extent to which either Party had implemented the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement. While the RUF could only give excuses for its inaction up to the date of the meeting, the Government delegation was able to list up to eleven substantial measures the Government of Sierra Leone had then taken towards the implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement. The members of the Joint Implementation Committee on that occasion, which was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Togo, included the Foreign Ministers of Nigeria and Guinea, and the Ambassadors of Libya and Ghana resident in Lome and the Secretary General of ECOWAS. The Committee admonished the RUF delegation to redouble their effort in the implementation of the Agreement.

  21. Article XXI (Release of Prisoners and Abductees) and Article XXX (Child Combatants)

It is noteworthy that in its position paper, there is marked omission of any reference to these two Articles of the Lome Peace Agreement. The abduction of persons and their unlawful detention amounted to a flagrant violation of their human rights. One would have thought that this was a subject to be addressed in a policy document of the nature produced by the RUF. While it is true that the RUFP has released a few abductees and prisoners, including ex-President J.S. Momoh, there are still more persons whom it needs to release, and His Excellency the President has referred Chairman Sankoh to this fact and even furnished him with names of prisoners and abductees still in the custody of the RUFP.

It is worth informing RUFP that arms-bearing age, according to the laws of Sierra Leone, is 18 years.