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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Burkina Faso denies arming rebels
Blaise Compaore of BF
President Compaore denies arming the RUF rebles
The government of Burkina Faso has denied that it is stoking up the conflict in Sierra Leone by supplying arms to the rebel forces of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Foday Sankoh.

A statement issued in Ouagadougou said Burkina Faso was astonished to find itself accused of arming one part of Sierra Leonean society against another.

"Burkina Faso, which has always persevered against every adversity, categorically denies the gross slur that it supplies arms to rebel movements," the statement said.


Foday Sankoh
The RUF leader Foday Sankoh is being kept in protective custody
Official sources in Ouagadougou say the denial was prompted by renewed accusations against Burkina Faso in the European Parliament.

The Sierra Leonean Government as well international campaigners say that the two countries have been used by the RUF as transit points for their diamond exports.

It is also widely believed that the RUF gets most of its arms and other supplies through Liberia in exchange for illegally mined diamonds.

Presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso have both denied any wrongdoing.

Nigerian diplomacy

Meanwhile, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is to send a personal envoy to both Burkina Faso and Liberia as part of efforts to resolve the crisis in Sierra Leone.


Charles Taylor of Liberia
Taylor has been negotiating with the rebels for the release of UN hostages
President Obasanjo's decision was announced by the US presidential envoy Jesse Jackson, who held talks with the Nigerian leader in Benin City on Thursday.

Mr Jackson who travelled to Liberia on Friday said he had had a "very good discussion" on the situation in Sierra Leone with President Obasanjo.

Nigeria has been the major contributor of troops to the West African regional military force in Sierra Leone, Ecomog.

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See also:

19 May 00 | Africa
Rebels demand Sankoh release
15 May 00 | Africa
UN confirms troops' release
14 May 00 | Africa
Rebels lose Sierra Leone town
13 May 00 | Africa
Above Sierra Leone's front line
11 May 00 | Africa
UN bolsters Freetown defences
08 Jul 99 | Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone tests a troubled region
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