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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Sierra Leone: is peace a step closer?

Foday Sankoh, the detained former head of Sierra Leone's rebel group the RUF, has accepted his movement's choice of replacement, Issa Sesay, a battlefield commander and self-styled general.

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When the announcement was made this week, President Kabbah also pledged to free some 170 RUF prisoners.

Could all this mean that the faltering Lome peace process might finally get back on track? Will a new leader for the RUF mean a new start for Sierra Leone?

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.



Peace in Sierra Leone will always be ephemeral unless the International Community helps the Sierra Leone Army flush out the rebels

Ibrahim Wurrie Jalloh, USA
Peace in Sierra Leone will always be ephemeral unless the International Community helps the Sierra Leone Army flush out the rebels from all mining areas.
The UN should act and act now. The UN peace-keepers should now just start enforcing peace. Sanctions should be imposed on those countries that are involved in the diamond smuggling to finance the RUF. Only the UN can help to impose these sanctions. The RUF leader Foday Sankoh should be severely punished to set an example to others. Unless this is done I don't see any peace coming to Sierra Leone.
Ibrahim Wurrie Jalloh, USA

A new leader for the RUF? Same snake new skin. As for peace, the only language the RUF understand is force. The UN has means, they should use it. If they can't, let them give permission to someone who can, like Executive Outcomes for instance.
Lloyd Joslyn Mac-Thompson, Sierra Leonean living in the US

This is food for thought. Is the new RUF leader not liable for prosecution? I think the strategy for peace is Sierra Leone. This is still not yet well thought out. We have the west side boys, Kamajors and all other remnants. Perhaps the entire country should go into receivership for a 10 years period.
Abdul A., USA


Why does the UN require 20,500 troops and an annual budget approaching $1bn simply to keep the peace in Sierra Leone

Mark Green, UK
Why does the UN require 20,500 troops and an annual budget approaching $1bn simply to keep the peace in Sierra Leone (so far unsuccessfully) when a private military company called Executive Outcomes managed to destroy the rebels fighting capability and bring them to the peace table in 1996 with a total of 150 men, a couple of gunship helicopters and a fee of $30m?
Why doesn't the UN invite Executive Outcomes to come back and do the job for them? Then there won't be any British soldiers taken captive by the local thugs and perhaps the country can return to some semblance of normality.
Mark Green, UK

Genuine peace will only come to Sierra Leone when we all learn to LOVE each other in truth and sincerity. Indeed Sierra Leoneans have to change in order that our society will change for the better. That is the real test of our willingness to claim a brighter future for generations yet unborn.
Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, UK


The RUF will continue to terrorise the citizens they claim to be fighting for in the most unacceptable way

Claudia Anthony, Köln, Germany
This is just a litany of new wine in old bottles, testifying to the fact that the RUF still fails to project a leader worth its salt. In fact, this new development does not signify a change of policy. The RUF will continue to terrorise the citizens they claim to be fighting for in the most unacceptable way.
Claudia Anthony, Köln, Germany

The RUF source of support is in the West via diamonds. Until the key players honestly put humanity before profit, there is no end in sight soon. When the RUF realise the magnitude of their atrocities, they will regret forever. Presently President Kabba has very few options, so let's hope again and pray that Issa Sessay is different from Foday Sankoh.
Fatorma Gabba, USA

These are rebels who have been trained to kill and maim. They have no decent place in a democratic setting. Making peace with them is just wishful thinking. It is time the world joined hands and did away with the so-called blanket amnesty to criminals.
Clement Chiwaya, Malawian living in the States

What we are seeing is a mere change of personality within the RUF. What the people of Sierra Leone honestly need is a change of policy from the RUF. Stop the fighting and comply with the Lome Peace Accord. The people of Sierra Leone not only want peace, they deserve it. God bless Sierra Leone.
Joseph Goswell, UK

Peace in Sierra Leone will always be ephemeral unless the International Community help the Sierra Leone Army flush out the rebels from all mining areas.
Sebatu Kposowa, Sierra Leone


You can't make peace with a MERCENARY FORCE

Saybome Kamara, USA
This government doesn't get it. You can't make peace with a MERCENARY FORCE. The RUF is answerable to the nameless, faceless, shameless individuals that are financially sponsoring them as a tool to extract the diamonds. Until these individuals are fully exposed, there will NEVER be peace.
Saybome Kamara, USA

We are all aware of the atrocities that are being committed against our people of Sierra Leone by certain groups especially the RUF. But you cannot call a dog while you are holding a stick in your hand and expect that dog to come. The UN should not call for peace and at the same time threaten the RUF with War crimes tribunal.
Alimamy Fakulie Kamara, Minnesota, USA

The UN should act and act now. The UN peace-keepers should now just start enforcing peace. Sanctions should be imposed on those countries that are involved in the diamond smuggling to finance the RUF. Only the UN can help to impose these sanctions. The RUF leader Foday Sankoh should be severely punished to set an example to others. Unless this is done I don't see any peace coming to Sierra Leone
Lovemore Kawayi, Malawi


His first gesture should be mass unconditional disarmament and demobilisation of his forces

Tejan Fadlu-Deen, S Leonean in UAE
Peace seems to be the most elusive word in Sierra Leone these days as innocent people continue to die unnecessarily. Sankoh is now supposedly out of the equation and if Issa Sesay wants to show the world the RUF is sincerely up for peace and he is not just another pawn in Charles Taylor's brutal game, his first gesture should be mass unconditional disarmament and demobilisation of his forces. Not the empty rhetoric we've heard before whilst the country continues to disintegrate into oblivion. Stop the suffering of the people!!!
Tejan Fadlu-Deen, S Leonean in UAE

The declaration of a new leadership within the RUF is only a progress for the rebels but not for the people of Sierra Leone. The RUF have always been changing their leadership yet there is no prospect toward the peace process, and they are still carrying out their inhumane acts against humanity.
Komba Omaru, United States of America.

The policies are a bewildering array of proposals that want things both ways with nothing in the middle. What exactly will you be negotiating with Mr. Sesay for? They already had the Articles of Surrender (the Lome Accord) and that was not enough. Revisit the descriptions of his captors earlier in the summer to see what kind of negotiator he is.
Sahr T, USA


Why should the people of Sierra Leone trust another RUF rebel?

Abu Bangura, USA
It's appalling to know that the UN continues to encourage the RUF to another deal in the name of keeping a fragile peace. Each time a rebel commander comes from the bush, he is awarded immensely for his atrocities. It has been the usual lukewarm approach of the UN and the West to any crisis in Africa.
Why should the people of Sierra Leone trust another RUF rebel? Their hands are tainted with the blood of innocent victims. Peace in Sierra Leone may be imminent, the ravages from a decade of turmoil has bred so much bad blood for a once proud country to stand on her feet again.
Abu Bangura, USA

It is impossible to believe that yet again, someone out there is considering doing a deal with these monsters. This demonstrates that the lives and limbs of the suffering children of Sierra Leone are not an important part of the equation. Whoever is responsible for such deals must be prepared to accept personal responsibility for their inevitable consequences.
Ubong Effeh, Nigeria


How does a nation of a maimed people plagued by the most inhumane acts of a barbaric war understand peace?

George Mutua, Kenya
Sierra Leone is a country in dire need of peace. However, how does a nation of a maimed people plagued by the most inhumane acts of a barbaric war understand peace? We must first propose and implement humanity at its very basic form before we can expect peace in Sierra Leone. Let us not put the cart before the horse.
George Mutua, Kenya

There is no place for the RUF in Sierra Leone as they violated the Lome Peace Accord. As for Foday Sankoh, I hope he is found guilty and sentenced to death. Just the mere sight of him reminds me of the atrocities he inflicted on the Sierra Leonean people.
Kiko, USA

I believe that the only way to solve the problem in Sierra Leone is to temporary close the border between it and Liberia. Have a UN force monitor the border and secure the perimeters around the south. Liberia has been the source and fuse of all Sierra Leone's problems. Stop Liberia's influence and you'll stop the cause, then you can go and disarm easily and cautiously without problems from the neighbours.
Antonio Maldini, USA

It is a sad irony that at a time when the UN has agreed to set up a court to bring to justice those who committed grave atrocities against the people of Sierra Leone, President Kabbah is planning to free some of these offenders who are already in custody. As the commander of the rebel forces in the North, Issa Sesay presided over the murder of UN peacekeepers and the rape and mutilation of our people. To embrace such a man as a leader makes a mockery of those of us who lost our loved ones to rebel cruelty. When will there be justice in Sierra Leone?
Jacob Sax Conteh, USA

Peace will certainly be guaranteed if the big Western powers continue to back the process. The reason is simple: they benefit from the supply of arms to, and sale of diamonds by, the rebels. The real big guns who support the poor soldiers in the field are in their capitals too and they know them well enough to put a halt to their activities.
S. S. Adzei, Ghana

Even Issa Sesay, be he the RUF leader or not, shouldn't be excluded from the sins of the RUF. He must be tried also.
Hakeem Sesay, USA

In a place like Sierra Leone where there are natural riches, those riches have to be distributed justly for the benefit of the whole population. None of this is in sight so the conclusion is that there will be no peace in the foreseeable future in Sierra Leone and other countries "lucky" enough to have diamonds, copper, oil, gold and even tobacco.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

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See also:

22 Aug 00 | Africa
RUF: Sankoh still the boss
21 Aug 00 | Africa
Sankoh 'replaced' as rebel leader
01 Jun 00 | Africa
Q&A: What now for Sierra Leone?
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