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Sierra Leone: UN mission facilitates accord on police deployment in two towns

Sierra Leone: UN mission facilitates accord on police deployment in two towns

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) announced today that an agreement had been reached between the peacekeeping operation and the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) for the deployment of the country's police force to two towns in the centre of the territory.

The decision was made yesterday during a meeting in Makeni between UNAMSIL's Deputy Special Representative for Governance and Stabilization, Alan Doss, the Inspector General of Police, Keith Biddle, advisers from the international Civilian Police force, and officers of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).

"The deployment of the SLP in these towns is an important step forward in the extension of state authority throughout the country," the peacekeeping operation said in a statement issued in Freetown.

During the meeting, the RUF said it would welcome the deployment of the SLP in Makeni and Magburaka. Starting on 1 August, a total strength of 600 to 700 police officers will be deployed within a week, including Special Services Division elements whose weapons would be "kept under lock and used only in self-defence," UNAMSIL said. Mechanisms are currently being set up in consultation with the RUF to ensure a smooth deployment and functioning of the police, including the establishment of a community Safety and Security Committee.

The meeting also addressed issues such as the imposition of a curfew - to be considered only if the security situation warrants it - and the referral of suspects to the magistrate's court in Port Loko.

Regarding recruitment to the police, the meeting agreed that, once deployed in Makeni, the SLP would provide information to prospective candidates on the procedures and minimum standards required to join the force.