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Sierra Leone: UN mission urges people in Kono to cooperate with police

Sierra Leone: UN mission urges people in Kono to cooperate with police

Following the first deployment of police officers in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich Kono District since the outbreak of war, the United Nations Mission in the country (UNAMSIL) has urged the people there to work together with the new law enforcement officials.

The call came in a statement by the Deputy chief of UNAMSIL, Alan Doss, who visited Koidu, in Kono District, yesterday to assess progress of the Government's efforts to bring back civil administration and to follow up on the 15 October deployment of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).

Addressing some of the police officers already deployed in Koidu, Mr. Doss said that, if successful, the police's presence there would be a major boost to the peace process. Some 70 officers of the first group of about 180 have already been deployed in the diamond-rich district. The people of Kono "will be watching to see how you conduct yourselves," Mr. Doss told the officers, "therefore so much depends on you."

Speaking later that day at a disarmament centre in the northern district of Koinadugu, where more than 60 Civil Defence Force ex-combatants were attending a workshop on reintegration packages, Mr. Doss urged them to forget the past and forgive their former opponents. He encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities being offered by the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration.

According to UNAMSIL, Mr. Doss received "thunderous applause" when he called on the ex-combatants to give up their shotguns during the weapons collection programme to be launched by the Government at the end of the disarmament exercise.

The UN official then visited Kabala's district administrative office, where he told the gathering that after the completion of disarmament process, his office's major task would be the restoration of civil authority throughout the country. He appealed to people to set up district recovery committees that would champion the economic revival of their communities.