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The BBC's Mark Doyle in Freetown
"Times are changing in Sierra Leone"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 November, 1999, 20:28 GMT
Sierra Leone rebels form political party
The UN is concerned that RUF rebels are still armed

The main rebel movement in Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), has inaugurated itself as a political party to contest future elections.

Sierra Leone
"War is over and now we are talking politics," RUF chairman, Corporal Foday Sankoh, said.

"You are now free to participate in the politics of Sierra Leone," Ibrahim Sesay, acting chairman of the Interim National Electoral office, told Mr Sankoh.

Mr Sesay said that he had received objections from members of the public to the registration of the Revolutionary United Front Party, but it was covered by the Lome peace accord signed in July.

Foday Sankoh: New party leader
The peace deal has already given the RUF a share in a transitional government - a move that was criticised by human rights activists who felt the rebels should not be rewarded for a campaign of terror in which thousands were killed or mutilated.

Democratic elections are envisaged as the final stage of the Lome peace process.

An RUF spokesman, Eldred Collins, told the BBC that the party's symbol would be a lion, but what he described as a "peaceful lion", in honour of the name of the country.

Sierra Leone was named after the ridge of mountains which lie behind the capital Freetown, which are said to resemble the outline of a sleeping lion.

Peacekeepers due

Thousands suffered mutilation by RUF rebels
On Thursday, the first units of a 6,000-strong UN peacekeeping force are due to arrive in Sierra Leone.

The first contingent of troops will be from India, followed by Kenyan soldiers.

Their task will be to monitor the ceasefire and supervise disarmament.

The UN-led force will take over some of the duties of the Nigerian-led West African intervention force Ecomog which backed President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's government during the eight-year war.

Ecomog will, however, remain in charge of security.

On Friday the UN Security Council expressed concern over continuing ceasefire violations, and urged RUF members to lay down their weapons
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See also:
28 May 99 |  Africa
Sierra Leone ceasefire 'holding'
27 May 99 |  Africa
Sierra Leone rebels 'on the move'
26 May 99 |  Africa
Who's who at the Lome talks
24 May 99 |  Africa
Sierra Leone ceasefire broken
24 May 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Battle to rebuild shattered Sierra Leone
11 Jan 99 |  Sierra Leone
A country torn by conflict
13 Feb 99 |  Africa
Grim facts of Sierra Leone's war

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