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Major players in Sierra Leone peace process review ceasefire accord

Major players in Sierra Leone peace process review ceasefire accord

Although the warring parties in Sierra Leone have virtually stopped fighting in recent months, both sides have been slow to implement elements of their ceasefire agreement, according to a review of the country's peace process.

The review, conducted yesterday in Abuja, Nigeria, where the ceasefire agreement had been signed on 10 November 2000, was attended by the chief of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Oluyemi Adeniji, and representatives from the country's Government, the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Among other concerns, the Abuja meeting touched on the violence in Sierra Leone's Kono district and Tongo, which UNAMSIL investigations determined had been provoked by forward movements of the Government's Civil Defence Force (CDF). The meeting urged the Government to exert control over the Force to avert all future attacks that, if unchecked, would pose a serious threat to the ceasefire and could lead to increased hostilities.

Both parties renewed their pledges to remove all roadblocks in their zones of influence to ensure free movement of persons and goods, while the RUF pledged to fully return the weapons and equipment seized from international peacekeepers by 30 May.

The meeting reaffirmed the need to restart the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, saying that CDF and RUF combatants should be disarmed simultaneously. It also agreed that ex-combatants would be reintegrated into all identifiable activities in Sierra Leone -- not only into the army.

After extensive deliberations, decisions were also taken on cross-border attacks in Kambia, the release of RUF detainees, the transformation of the RUF into a political party, the presence of foreign troops, and the return of refugees/abductees. Those matters are considered additional elements to the peace process that are outside the framework of the Abuja Agreement.