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Tuesday, 22 August, 2000, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
RUF: Sankoh still the boss
Foday Sankoh
Foday Sankoh: Expected to be tried by UN court
The Sierra Leonean rebel movement, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), says Foday Sankoh remains as its leader and that General Issa Sesay would only head the group in the interim.

A spokesman for the RUF, Jibril Massaquoi, told the BBC that it had also appointed General Issa to negotiate with the West African regional body, Ecowas, in Mr Sankoh's absence.

The RUF leader has been detained by the Freetown Government since his capture in May and faces trial for human rights offences.

The Sierra Leone Government had earlier said the RUF had replaced Foday Sankoh with General Issa, who has been the RUF's battlefield commander since his predecessor Sam Bockarie went to Liberia last year.

Obasanjo
Obasanjo: Peace mission
Analysts say that the conflicting reports are more likely to be the result of an earlier misunderstanding, rather than reflecting a rift within the RUF.

The Sierra Leonean Government statement said its sources for the information were Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Alpha Omar Konaré, the Malian president who is also the chair of Ecowas.

Both leaders are on a mission to Sierra Leone and to Liberia, to try to restore peace in Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone statement said that it also planned to release some 170 RUF fighters in what it called the interests of a sustainable peace.

The UN Security Council recently approved the establishment of a court to try war criminals from Sierra Leone.

Mr Sankoh founded the RUF and launched Sierra Leone's civil war in 1991.

Mr Sankoh is expected to be among those indicted, but questions remain over whether an amnesty granted to him as part of last year's peace deal could stand in the way of his trial.

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See also:

27 Jul 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sankoh under pressure
03 Aug 00 | Africa
Wife's writ to locate Sankoh
17 Jul 00 | Africa
Rescuer died in Leone operation
12 May 00 | Africa
Foday Sankoh: Rebel leader
16 Aug 00 | Africa
Q&A: Charles Taylor on gunrunning
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