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Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Nigerian Vice President
"There must be a shared responsibility"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Nigeria sets intervention terms
Nigerian peacekeepers
Nigerian troops intervened decisively in Sierra Leone
Nigeria has said that it and not the United Nations should command West African troops if they are sent back to enforce peace in Sierra Leone.

But Vice-President Atiku Abubakar told the BBC that Nigeria would expect the UN to foot the bill. He said troops could go in as soon as a deal was reached with the international community.

The command ought to have gone to Nigeria, because Nigeria... would have made a better job of it

Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
"There must be a shared responsibility. If you want us to commit troops, then the United Nations also must be prepared to make funds available to keep the troops there," he said.

Mr Abubakar also made it quite clear that he did not think Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel leader Foday Sankoh was interested in peace.

"His intention, I think, is to keep a hold on the diamond areas of Sierra Leone, and keep on making money."

Mr Sankoh, whose rebels are supposed to have disarmed months ago according to a peace accord signed last year, is widely held responsible for appalling atrocities, but for which he has been given amnesty.

'Ineffective' UN

UN officials said late on Monday that Nigeria had offered to send two battalions totalling close to 1,600 troops to support UN peacekeepers who have come under attack by rebels.

Foday Sankoh
Nigeria says Foday Sankoh is not interested in peace
Until last year, Nigeria had more than 10,000 soldiers in Sierra Leone, more than the current UN deployment.

It dominated and commanded the West African intervention force, Ecomog, that fought rebels and helped to restore the elected government to power, before handing over last month to a UN mission with a less robust mandate.

Mr Abubakar said Nigeria would expect its troops to operate under their own command, which would give them the freedom to defend themselves, to shoot back if attacked and to actively disarm the rebels.

He described the UN mission as "ineffective" and said the situation had worsened since it took over.

"The command ought to have gone to Nigeria, because Nigeria - having been in Sierra Leone for quite some time, and quite familiar with the terrrain - would have made a better job of it," he said.

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10 May 00 | Africa
Flight to Freetown
09 May 00 | Africa
Can the UN force restore peace?
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