Sierra Leone: UN mission reports successful talks on disarmament

Sierra Leone: UN mission reports successful talks on disarmament

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) today reported that a meeting to plan disarmament activities in the country had been successfully held in Makeni, two weeks after the originally scheduled talks had to be postponed because of a boycott by the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The tripartite meeting of the Joint Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration - composed of the Government of Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL and the RUF - took place on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, the head of the UN peace operation.

In an atmosphere UNAMSIL later described as "cordial," the participants examined the implementation of decisions on disarmament, issues hampering its progress, progress in the peace process, and issues related to national recovery and stabilization. They also reviewed the transformation of the RUF into a political party, the question of political consultation among Sierra Leoneans, and the extension of Government authority and freedom of movement of persons and goods throughout the country.

After a discussion of the low turnout of combatants for disarmament in Koinadugu district, the parties agreed to extend the period of disarmament there by two weeks. The UN mission said that RUF, CDF and UNAMSIL officials would carry out a joint re-sensitization of combatants in the district on 20 September. It was also agreed that disarmament would begin in the next two districts - Bombali and Bo - on 24 September, preceded by sensitization of combatants on 20 September in Makeni and on 22 September in Bo.

On the political front, the Government informed the RUF of its identification of a building to serve as the RUF's party headquarters in Freetown, thus removing one of the major obstacles to the rebel group's registration as a party.

The participants discussed the question of holding a national dialogue on the way forward in the political process. It was reported that the National Commission for Democracy and Human Rights and the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace were already holding consultations on the organization of such a dialogue.