Disarmament complete in Sierra Leone, parties declare at UN-backed meeting

Disarmament complete in Sierra Leone, parties declare at UN-backed meeting

The Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) today formally declared their disarmament process complete, according to the United Nations Mission in the country (UNAMSIL).

The end of the process, which began in May 2001, was formalized at the eighth meeting in Freetown of the Joint Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Oluyemi Adeniji.

In a joint communiqué issued at the end of their meeting, the parties stressed the importance of complementing the disarmament and demobilization processes with the reintegration of ex-combatants. They expressed "fervent hope that the international community would respond with urgency" to a recent statement on the matter by the President of the UN Security Council.

Recognizing that certain arms - particularly those that did not qualify for the DDR programme - may still be in circulation, the Joint Committee expressed its full support to the ongoing community arms collection and destruction programme to create a weapons-free environment in Sierra Leone.

The Joint Committee also noted that the transformation of the RUF into a political party has not been completed. The Chairman called on the two parties to assume fully their respective responsibilities for the swift completion of that process.

The communiqué also called for accelerating the extension of Government authority throughout the country and noted the importance of expediting the process to facilitate the return of refugees so they could participate in the elections slated for May.