Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: An official statement regarding a 'cease fire'

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HEADQUARTERS REVOLUTIONARY UNITED FRONT

Sierra Leone. While believing that we are not obliged to so do we, the RUF, recognize that there are numerous press statements being circulated in regard to a proposed 'cease fire', especially one suggested by Liberia's President, Charles Taylor, who (via Reuters News Agency) has reportedly called for an immediate cease fire in Sierra Leone.

While uncertain as to what prompts President Taylor to issue such a proposal, the RUF herewith submits that the 'cease fire' called for in the Lome Peace Agreement is and should be the 'cease fire' currently. But for the unfortunate collusion and outright treachery attending the so-called 'capture' of 500 UN soldiers by our men last May, 2000, along with the subsequent government arrest of our leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh along with substantially all of his Lome-approved political party, the current 'cease fire' might be fully in place without exception.

We now have the benefit of hindsight, owing to a previously Secret Memo written by the UN's Commander, General Jetley in which he discloses the treachery and other difficulties present at the time the 500 UN soldiers arrived at the diamond mines. Our leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh, was planning to personally go to the mines to learn what was the problem and correct it. Our leader was and continues to be in full agreement with the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement he signed. He was unaware, as were many at the time, of the collusion and deceit, which was subsequently revealed by a third party.

We, the RUF, have been briefed, participated in verbal agreements and/or witnessed numerous activity since the seizure and detention, incommunicado, of our leader and all of his political followers. Some of the activity has been in secret, and some has been directed against our operation {it is an 'open secret', for example that the British are mobilizing for an attack on our RUF bases at what they believe is a propitious moment}, however, we believe that no useful purpose will be served -certainly no advance in the peace process-by revealing some of these 'secret' moves at this time.

We remind all involved parties and others interested in understanding the breadth and length and substance of this conflict to recall that the Lome Peace Agreement of July, 1999 was the successor Agreement to the ECOWAS Peace Plan of 23 October, 1997; and it was the successor to the Abidjan Peace Agreement of 30 November, 1996.

In the view of the RUF the cease fire outlined in the Lome Peace Agreement continues albeit imperfectly. Discussion of a new or additional 'cease fire' appears to be not rational based upon the several Agreements previously mentioned. Our leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh, has been and continues to be strongly in support of the Lome Peace Agreement.

In respect to the crimes committed by all warring parties, over the years, we know that our leader Foday Saybana Sankoh has never sanctioned any war crimes; has desired to find and punish those who committed war crimes within the RUF, and has on more than one occasion publicly begged for forgiveness for any crimes committed by the RUF. Our leader's most recent public statement begging forgiveness for the crimes of certain RUF soldiers was made in August, 1997, more than one year prior to Johnny Paul Koroma's {who was then and is now part of the Kabbah government} tearful apology last October, 1999.

We, the RUF, have exercised considerable restraint against the Government of President Kabbah. In addition, the record shows clearly that we have not harmed any of the members of the UN Peacekeeping forces. Recently, we have also returned certain equipment, which was taken during the May, 2000 encounter. The RUF bears no ill will to the UN Peacekeeping force.

What we will not do is unilaterally disarm-especially when the government of President Kabbah continues to hold our leader and all of his political party in solitary confinement, incommunicado, and refuses to proceed further with the implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement, even after we acceded to demands to replace our Lome leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh with General Issa Sessay for that very purpose.

In our view, the 'cease fire' continues, albeit imperfectly. Discussion of a new or additional 'cease fire' appears to be not rational under the circumstances. The Lome Peace Agreement deals with the matter appropriately. Our leader and his deputy General Sessay continues to strongly support the Lome Peace Agreement.

Gibril Massakoi
RUF Spokesman