Security Council members today agreed that
it was imperative to avoid any "security vacuum" in Sierra Leone
after the withdrawal of Nigerian troops in the New Year, Council President
Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom said in a press statement
following consultations on Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.
The Council had also discussed the changes that would be necessary "to the mandate and to the strength" of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) when Nigeria withdraws from the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), Ambassador Greenstock said. The Council was awaiting further detailed information from the UN Secretariat on that topic, he added.
Council members urged all parties to the Lomé agreement to honour their obligations, and in particular they agreed that recent threats by Revolutionary United Front Party leader, Foday Sankoh, not to cooperate with UNAMSIL "in certain respects" were unacceptable, Ambassador Greenstock said.
Council members would "keep a close watch on developments" and meet again when the Secretariat had more details available.
During its Wednesday session, the Security Council was briefed on Sierra Leone by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi.
In Sierra Leone itself on Tuesday, Major-General Vijay Kumar Jetley, UNAMSIL Force Commander, paid a courtesy call on Mr. Sankoh to discuss the deployment and mandate of UNAMSIL troops, according to a statement today by the spokesman for the Secretary-General.
A total of just under 4,000 former combatants have now reported to the disarmament camps in the country, the spokesman added.
On Guinea-Bissau, the Security Council was pleased to note that the 28 November elections were held in an "open, fair and transparent manner, and it regarded this as an important step towards the country's transition to fully-fledged democracy," Ambassador Greenstock said.
The Council urged all parties to ensure that the second round of these elections next month was conducted in the same open and fair manner, he added.
The Council was briefed on Guinea-Bissau by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahima Fall.