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The BBC's Jonathan Charles in Freetown
"Plenty of lessons have been learnt from this mission "
 real 56k

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
"I believe it (the Sierra Leone government) should redouble its efforts"
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UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook
"We want to make sure we have stability in Sierra Leone. It's not a job we are going to leave half finished"
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The BBC's Mark Doyle
"The action was not without cost on the British side"
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Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 03:24 GMT 04:24 UK
Annan demands unity on Sierra Leone
UK military vehicles
UK troops are keeping up their military presence
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the UN and West African countries must harmonise their efforts to bring peace to Sierra Leone.

His comments at a high-level meeting on resolving Sierra Leone's problems came as a dispute continued over the role and actions of UN peacekeepers there.


It is essential that we harmonise our views and strategies and act as one

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Earlier on Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that Britain would draft a United Nations resolution to expand the UN force in Sierra Leone.

Speaking after a dramatic raid to free British soldiers held by a militia, which left one Briton dead, Mr Cook said that UK troops who are training the Sierra Leone army would not be withdrawn.

Wrangling

At the meeting in New York, Mr Annan praised the Freetown government's efforts to promote peace in the country.

UK military map
The Paras flew into two "drop zones" to launch the raid
"However I believe it should redouble its efforts to extend its administration thoughout the country, and work as effectively as possible with my special representative and with the UN force," he said.

He said that as partners "it is essential that we harmonise our views and strategies and act as one on every aspect of this challenge."

The Indian commanding the UN force in Sierra Leone, General Vijay Jetley, was reported to have accused senior Nigerian officers of undermining the peace process.

A senior Nigerian official who was named in the criticism has rejected the allegations.

For his part, General Jetley has denied making the remarks.

Mr Annan's spokesman said problems within the leadership were well known, and a decision on who should lead the peacekeeping force was expected soon.

A role apart

The 300 or so British troops stationed in Sierra Leone are acting as trainers rather than serving as part of the large UN peacekeeping force.

Bombardier Brad Tinnion who died during the military operation to free six British hostages in SLeone
Bombardier Brad Tinnion was killed in the raid
In London, Mr Cook praised the "professionalism and discipline" of the paratroopers who engaged in a 10-hour battle over the weekend to rescue six British soldiers held captive by the West Side Boys militia.

One of 150 British paratroopers involved died in the fighting and another was seriously hurt, while 25 militia fighters, including three women were also killed.

The dead soldier was named on Monday as Bombardier Brad Tinnion, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire who served with the Royal Artillery.

Commitment

Mr Cook said: "[The West Side Boys militia] leadership is now behind bars. Their headquarters has now been destroyed."

But he also warned: "The people of Sierra Leone still live under the threat of a brutal rebel force whose trademark is lopping off the arms and legs of women and children."

He said Britain's policy would consist of four elements

  • Training and equipping the Sierra Leone army

  • Drafting a resolution to expand the UN force (Unamsil)

  • Funding a disarmament process to encourage rebels to surrender

  • Acting to end the trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone which funds the rebels

The six freed soldiers, who were held for over two weeks, face tough questioning after a day of rest over why they ventured into the dangerous jungle area, which was widely known to be controlled by their captors.
rebel, West Side Boys
The West Side Boys held out for 10 hours

The group's captured leader, Foday Kallay, has said he regrets the kidnapping, and his militia is now a spent force.

However, large parts of the country remain in the hands of the main rebel group, the RUF, leaving no immediate end in sight to the country's wider conflict.

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See also:

11 Sep 00 | Africa
Dramatic rescue operation
11 Sep 00 | UK Politics
'Pull UK troops out of Sierra Leone'
11 Sep 00 | Africa
Captured leader 'regrets' kidnap
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