The Sierra Leone Web





Fellow Sierra Leoneans,

Just over two weeks ago, we arrived at an important milestone in our effort to restore and maintain security and peace in our country. At a ceremony held at Lungi Airport, attended by, among others, representatives of ECOMOG, representatives of donor countries and the United Nations, Vice President Demby launched a project for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants.

2. This is a formidable and expensive exercise. The total cost is approximately 33 million dollars. But we have to do it. Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration are absolutely necessary, because the primary purpose and responsibility of Government are the security, peace and welfare of Sierra Leone. Of course, we cannot do it alone. We have requested international assistance. As you know, the purpose of my recent visit to the United Nations in New York was to bring the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme to the attention of the international community. I also wanted to explain that although security and rehabilitation are our priority concerns, we have plans for long-term and sustainable development which also require international assistance.

3. Although we have not yet received all of the projected amount of funds for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, we are encouraged by the positive response of interested parties in the form of commitments and pledges.

4. Today, I would like to emphasize that the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of former combatants is not a single event. It is a process. It will take time. Meanwhile, what happens to our security? Who should provide us with security while the DDR programme is in progress?

5. Let us not forget that remnants of the vicious junta/rebel coalition have continued their acts of terror in some parts of the country.

6. Of course, we all know that the gallant troops of ECOMOG have done, and are doing a marvellous job in repelling the rebel offensive. But ECOMOG is not alone. As a matter of fact, a number of officers and soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces who had given themselves up to ECOMOG earlier this year, have been fighting alongside ECOMOG and the Civil Defence Force (CDF).

7. After a thorough investigation, ECOMOG concluded that within the discredited Sierra Leone army there were officers and soldiers who because of their own personal safety, as well as family and other reasons, had no alternative but to remain in areas that were controlled by the rebels. They subsequently gave themselves up to ECOMOG.

8. Well, a large proportion of this group played a decisive role in the capture and re-capture of several strategic towns including Kabala, during the past few months. Indeed, a battalion of the Sierra Leone army single-handedly captured Kayima, and the 2nd Battalion/SLA captured Korubola. I have received praiseworthy reports from ECOMOG on their performance, in particular their professionalism and discipline, about which I am very pleased.

9. And this brings me to the question of the new army. You will recall that in my speech to Parliament on the 22nd of May, 1998, I promised to consult you the people, and Parliament on this all important subject. I held two meetings with Parliament and we agreed on a strategy. Thereafter the National Policy Advisory Committee held a public meeting followed by two TV broadcasts on the subject.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans,

10. Based on the feedback I have obtained, and on my own impression during my recent visit to the provincial headquarters, we are now in a position to outline what we truly believe is the consensus of Sierra Leoneans on the policy Government should pursue on this matter. In particular there now seems to be agreement:

(i) That we have an armed force of 5000 men and women made up of an army wing, a naval wing and an air wing as well as a rapid deployment force.

(ii) That we introduce strict qualification requirements for recruitment into the armed forces including a favourable character reference from the paramount chiefs or the local authorities in the chiefdom or area where a person is recruited.

(iii) That units of the armed forces will be deployed countrywide taking into account the threats to which various parts of the country are susceptible, and fourthly

(iv) That absorption of members of the old army into the new armed forces can only be done after rigorous screening, including a critical examination of their records of service to ensure, among other things, that they have no blemishes of character. Those with satisfactory service records will then have their names posted at strategic places throughout the country for vetting by the public.

11. Further, we have stipulated that as in the case of most reputable armies, recruitment into the armed forces of Sierra Leone will not automatically guarantee permanent employment for any serviceman or woman. This is the type of army we are trying to build. From now on employment into the armed forces will be initially for six years. Subsequent renewals of service will be subject to satisfactory performance and conduct.

Fellow Citizens,




12. You will recall that in my address to the nation on the 14th of August this year, I informed you that Government is determined to create a police force which will be a credit to the nation. To this end we have embarked upon a far reaching restructuring of the Force, to ensure that the police will assist effectively in returning our communities to peace and prosperity by acting in a manner which will:

(i) eventually remove the need for the deployment of military and paramilitary forces in our villages, communities and city streets;

(ii) ensure the safety and security of all people and their property;

1.. respect the human rights of all individuals;

2.. prevent and detect crime by using the most effective method which can be made available to them;

3.. take account of local concerns through community consultation; and,

4.. be free from corruption at all times.

13. There will be equal opportunities for all members of the Police Force regardless of sex or ethnic origin. All recruitment, training, postings, promotion and opportunities for development will be based on a published equal opportunities policy.

14. On its part Government will ensure that the police is:

1.. directed and managed in accordance with the constitution;
2.. locally managed so that community views are always taken into consideration;
3.. adequately funded;
4.. well equipped to undertake its duties;
5.. professionally trained; and
6.. dynamically led.

15. The terms and conditions of service for members of the Sierra Leone Police will be made to reflect the importance of the task they perform.

16. On the part of you, the people, your help and support to police officers at all times will guarantee that they can successfully fulfil our expectations.

17. Already significant progress has been made in the restructuring exercise. Working with members of the SLPF, eminent experts provided by the Commonwealth Organization and the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) have issued preliminary reports containing key general recommendations for a new and improved structure for the police force to ensure effective policing and accountability. Specific recommendations include the following:-

(i) rewriting of the Police Act of 1964 to address the issues of police accountability, rights and responsibilities;

1.. improvement of cell accommodation at all police stations;

2.. the provision of decent uniforms for all operational police officers. In this regard, the sum of Le648,250,000 has been earmarked by the Department for International Development (DFID) to procure two new pairs of uniforms and a pair of shoes for all operational police officers from Constable to Chief Inspector. These uniforms are expected to be issued by mid-October, 1998 and will be manufactured in Sierra Leone to boost the local economy;

3.. The rehabilitation of the police training school, which had been allowed to remain redundant since 1994. To facilitate the resumption of training activities the sum of Le116,685,000 has been made available from the Commonwealth Police Development Task Force (CPDTF) budget to provide basic training materials and food for students. One classroom and a residential block have been brought up to a standard which enabled training to recommence on 31st August, 1998;

4.. Provision of pharmaceutical drugs and equipment valued at Le6,482,500 for the police hospital, with a system designed to ensure that drug dispensation is properly regulated, recorded and basic costs recovered. This initiative will help to remove police officers and their families from the poverty trap;

5.. Improvement of radio communications. This has already been initiated with the provision of funds to repair equipment, purchase batteries etc. As a result, radio communications have been re-introduced to police stations in Bo, Kenema and Makeni.

18. Detailed recommendations have also been made on, among others, complaints and discipline, crime investigation, firearm licences and immigration. It has been proposed for example that Immigration should no longer be part of the Police Force but a separate Directorate under the Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Administration. A new immigration policy will also be put in place. Implementation of these recommendations will be initiated by the end of September, 1998.

19. Very significantly, the Police Force yesterday received twenty jeeps donated by the German Government. These vehicles will immediately be deployed for patrol duties throughout the Western Area and other areas threatened by violent crime such as armed robbery. Combined ECOMOG and police patrols will now be conducted on a twenty-four-hour basis to make sure that those who think they can make armed robbery a career think again.

20. I should emphasize that an important element of the restructuring of the Police Force is for the leadership to be able to implement all these policies that we are putting in place to modernise the Force. We are determined therefore to have a leadership that is both committed to the agreed policies and has the ability and capacity to transmit these policies and ideas to the rest of the Force.

21. Again on the question of leadership, it must be understood that the guiding principle will not be seniority alone; it must include competence, merit, integrity and total commitment to change. I should therefore like to assure the public that there will be no compromise on this principle.




22. The CDF have played an important role in the defence of the country during the recent interregnum and have clearly established a special place for themselves. It has therefore been decided, after consultation with all concerned in the country, that their position should be formalized. Therefore, it has been agreed that there will be a Civil Defence Force for all Districts in the country. They will report directly to their respective paramount chiefs, and each District will have a CDF Administrator who will liaise with the military as and when the CDF is needed for operation outside their locality. The District Administrator will also liaise with the military on matters relating to training and logistics in support of their participation in a national issue or crisis.

23. In normal peace time, the role of members of the CDF will remain what it has always been within common law and native law, that is, everybody has a legal responsibility to defend himself, his family and property against intruders as in the case of the Territorial Army in the United Kingdom and the Reservists in the United States of America. In this regard they will supplement the efforts of the Army and the local police in the defence of their chiefdoms. Arrangements will be made for appropriate military training for these CDFs so that they can be combat-ready when necessary.




24. Government is studying the possibility of establishing a National Service programme that will encourage every able-bodied young Sierra Leonean to offer military service to the nation after secondary school. The programme will ensure that the majority of Sierra Leoneans will at all times be prepared to supplement the efforts of the regular security forces in defending the country as and when necessary.

25. While we are engaged in the process of disarming, demobilising and reintegrating former combatants, and while at the same time trying torebuild a new Military establishment, who takes care of our security? Again, ECOMOG and the Civil Defence Force (CDF) cannot do it alone. We should have the capability at all times to confront existing and new threats to our nation's security. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring that a permanent, professional, loyal and well-equipped national army is ready even before ECOMOG's mandate in Sierra Leone comes to an end.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans,

26. We have to face this reality, and to understand that ECOMOG will not be here indefinitely. It takes time to train and establish a far more professional, a far more disciplined and a far more patriotic army than those we have had in the recent past. For instance, normally in a professional army it takes at least eight to nine years for a Cadet to become a Captain. In essence there is no way we can as a nation fulfil our security requirements in the near future without recruiting into the new army well trained and qualified soldiers in the old army who have demonstrated unequivocally that they are disciplined and loyal. The selection of these officers will be carried out, as I have stated earlier, after rigorous screening by Government, the people and ECOMOG and will strictly conform to the already laid down criteria including regional balance.

27. I should at this point reiterate that it takes about 9 years to train a new recruit to the rank of captain. You can therefore imagine the length of time it takes to train a Brigadier and the number of years of relevant experience necessary to get officers able to command the type of army the country needs at this time.

28. It is for this reason that I am appealing to you as Sierra Leoneans to go along with our proposal that we select up to 20% of the new army from those in the old army whom we have carefully observed over the past few months and found to be loyal, committed, disciplined and honest. The alternative to this will be our perpetual dependence on foreign officers to man our army. From the record already established by ECOMOG in this country, most of us will be comfortable with the calibre of their officers serving here. However, these officers have their own personal and family commitments which may not make serving in Sierra Leone indefinitely an attractive proposition.

29. Based on these considerations and the cost to ECOWAS countries of keeping their armies here, we shall start the recruitment of the new army at a date to be announced by the Chief of Defence Staff.

30. As Commander-in-Chief and president, I have overall responsibility for national security. Accordingly, I have created a National Security Council (NSC) comprising senior policy advisers to assist me in directing the defence and other security affairs of the state. The Council of which I am chairman articulates national defence and security policies and monitors their implementation on a regular basis.

31. In the meantime, I should like to take this opportunity to thank all those States that have contributed troops in the defence of our values. In the process some of their nationals have lost their lives and I am sure every well-meaning Sierra Leonean will join me in praying for them to enjoy perfect eternal peace for having made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in and enjoy our country.

In closing, let me add that while we wholeheartedly welcome assistance from friendly nations, in the final analysis, responsibility for security and peace in Sierra Leone would have to be carried by ourselves, Sierra Leoneans. Policies are now all formulated and in place. I continue to count on your support and cooperation in the implementation of these policies.

I thank you.