The Sierra Leone Web



7 July 1999

Excellencies, heads of state of ECOWAS represented here, members of the board of negotiators, excellencies members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: Today is a very important day for Sierra Leone. You heard the civil war in my country is at an end, and we have all resolved that never again shall we resort to violence to settle matters of political importance. This is a very important day for me and an honor done me to address you on behalf of Sierra Leone.

I would right away like to say that the document we are going to sign today is dedicated to the children of Sierra Leone. As for me I would sign it as president of the Republic of my country, on behalf of the citizens of my country. But before going further, I would like to present you here, Maimouna Mansaray to whom I dedicate the signing of this document. Maimouna represents the children of Sierra Leone who have suffered so much from the civil war.

I think that later my brother Foday Sankoh will give an address, and I think he will dilate on this. At this juncture however, I would like to present Maimouna Mansaray to you. I want to thank you all present here for calling for peace on behalf of my country. Here is Maimouna, a child who will grow up without her right hand. This is the fruit of this civil war, and I hope that now that we are drawing to the end of this war, we will hasten to snatch peace.

At this stage, I would also mention the presence of a good number of distinguished Africans who contributed to restore peace to my country. I want to express my sincere and profound gratitude to President Eyadema, the government and people of the Republic of Togo for the hospitality they reserved for our brothers during all this time in Lome their beautiful capital.

I would also like to express my gratitude to President Olusegun Obasanjo for the impetus he has given to the search for peace. He has worked incessantly since his election as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I would also like to thank the facilitators, first President Eyadema, the current chairman of Economic Community of West African States. I thank him for his constant effort to bring peace to Sierra Leone. My gratitude also goes to the OAU, the Commonwealth, the UN, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Togo, Liberia, Ghana, and Libya. All these countries have worked tirelessly to restore peace to my country.

I would also like to thank the countries, which provided troops to restore security to my country. They are Nigeria, Guinea, Ghana, and Libya. My gratitude to the government and people of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire that made it possible for the peace process to take off in December 1996. I also thank Presidents Taylor, Compaore, al-Qadhdhafi, and I express my special gratitude here to them.

The present agreement we are going to sign is the second accord worked out to bring peace to Sierra Leone. The first was signed between my Brother Foday Sankoh and myself in Abidjan but we could not implement it because of some difficulties. I have good hope that the current one will be final. I must admit that there are enormous differences between the two agreements. They differ in the format and the modalities for implementation.

The participation of the Revolutionary United Front [RUF] is a new development in the present agreement, and this will permit the easy implementation of the final accord since this organization will effectively take part in it. The first agreement did not mention the case of war victims. This has been corrected by the second agreement. Thus, there will be cohesion among all those expected to handle the implementation of this agreement. I promise that this agreement, which is going to be signed shortly, shall be implemented with the necessary rigor. Moreover, those who will closely monitor the implementation of this agreement have already been identified, and I think we have the cooperation of all of them.

So much has transpired since the start of the civil war. Many have been arrested, tried, and punished, and if we really aspire for peace, we must ensure that all those who participated in one way or the other in the war are free to participate in restoring peace.

I recently signed an ordinance, which makes Foday Sankoh a free man. He and his men will be issued with passports. So, he is now free to work tirelessly for the unity of our people. As you see, Your Excellencies, honorable presidents, ladies and gentlemen: the installation of peace has started in Sierra Leone. In this regard, I am making an appeal to all our friends and the [word indistinct] people [passage omitted].