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MARCH 29TH 2000
THEIVING SLPP MINISTER'S CASE CLOSES

After six months of legal wrangling, the grand larceny case against SLPP stalwart and erstwhile government minister, Dr. Harry Will has finally drawn to a close with both the prosecution and the defence legal teams making their last representations to Trial Judge Honourable Justice M.O. Taju Deen.

The former SLPP Agriculture Minister has been charged with theft of millions of dollars of much need government funds which he siphoned into his personal use. The case generated much publicity not least because it was seen as a witchhunt against Will because so many other SLPP ministers had been caught time without number with their hands in the National Kitty.

The trial judge assured both the Proesecution and Defence that he would give his judgement according to the evidence within the four walls of his court. He emphasised repeatedly that politics would not interfere with his judgement.

Sierra Leone is notorious for political influence into the judiciary hence the need for the judge's repetition of his above statements.

Harry Will was a contender for the SLPP presidential ticket in November 1995 trailing third place behind Tejan Kabbah and Charles Margai.

Political Observers see the selective exposure of his theft as against the theft of other SLPP ministers as a means of curtailing any ambitions he might have harboured to run again against Tejan Kabbah.

"Kabbah charging Harry Will to court for theft is like the pot calling the kettle black." observed Mohamed Conteh, a prominent student leader and political commentator in an apparent reference to President Kabbah's own sullied recorded history of theft of Agricultural products during the SLPP rule of the sixties.

NUSS gives twenty four days ultimatum
By Abu Whyte Fofanah

The National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS) stormed the streets of Freetown on Monday March 27 carrying placards in protest for the slow pace of the disarmament process.

Some of the placards had written on them;
UNAMSIL MUST BE ALLOWED TO DEPLOY NATIONWIDE TO ACCELERATE THE DISARMAMENT PROGRAMME;
POLITICIANS STOP EATING DISARMAMENT FUNDS;
WE WANT TO GO HOME;
LASTING PEACE IS OUR CHOICE.

At the law courts building, there were thousands of students, teachers and members of other institutions chanting slogans such as DISARM NOW! WE WANT TOTAL PEACE.

The Chairman of the programme, Mr. Mick Kamara, expressed dismay over the plight of students in the country.

The President of NUSS, Mr. Gilbert John Bosco Nyabay, pleaded with all stakeholders to be committed to the peace process. He said that they would meet face to face with Chairman Foday Sankoh, President Tejan Kabbah, Johnny Paul Koroma of the AFRC and Hinga Norman of the Civil Defence Forces for vital discussions on the disarmament process.

The president of NUSS concluded that Sam Bockarie alias Maskita should return to his homeland and join in the peace process.

According to him, the Maskita’s stay out of the country did not go down well with them (students) and they are therefore asking the United Nations to bring Sam Bockarie back home for everlasting peace in the country.

Mr. Gilbert John Bosco Nyabay, categorically stated that if the disarmament process was not completed before April 20, they will continue their protest nationwide.

A former president of Njala University College (NUC), Abdul Bunwai said that August 18 should be always declared as the Youth and Students day in the country because they had suffered a lot during the nine-year rebel war. He said that when they were at Njala before the rebels stormed their campus, there were books titled, Footpath to Democracy which were given to an unidentified person to be distributed to the students. They rejected that offer and took their stance as loyal students of the nation.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of (RUFP) Eldred Collins was forced to address the gathering at the law court after an announcement had already been made by the Chairman of the programme that Chairman Foday Sankoh would address the students.

SEQUEL TO STUDENTS’ RIOT...
Police arrest 34 students for destruction of properties and plotting to kidnap Alpha Wurie

The Assistant Commissioner of police Brima Archie Kamara, yesterday disclosed that 34 students have so far been arrested following the commotion that erupted during the students ‘peace’ demonstration organised by the National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS).

The arrested students gave their schools as St.Edwards Secondary School; Government Model Sec; Ahmadiyya Secondary school, Bishop Johnson, Prince of Wales, Albert Academy, Grammar School, Rokel Secondary School, Ayatolla Khomeni Sec. School, Cathedral Primary school, Holy Trinity primary and displaced school.

Though the Sierra Leone Muslim Secondary and Methodist Boys High Schools were not named by the arrested students, the police intimated this press that most of the arrested students are from these two schools.”We suspected that they gave false identification”.

Assistant Commissioner, B.A. Kamara further told the press that the demonstrating students who later thronged the ministry of education at New England had intended to burn down the Education ministry and kidnap the minister, Dr.Alpha Wurie.”:But for our professionalism, the situation would have been worse”.

The arrested students are presently detained at the CID headquarters and the police said, after obtaining statements from them, they would be taken to their various schools for identification.”Those who are real students will be handed over to the school authorities for necessary disciplinary action and the imposters will face the full penalty of the law.”

The students,through their umbrella organsiation, NUSS had applied to the poilice to organise a peaceful demonstration as a way of expressing their anger against the snail pace of the disarmament programme.

Ironically, the planned peace protest, turned violent as students went on the rampage, damaging buildings, cars and snatching traders’ wares.

The RUFP spokesman Edlred Collins had to run for his life as some university students chased him to beat him up. The car Collins used to attend the rally where he delivered a speech expressing his movements’ commitment to the disarmament programme was pelted with stones and the wind-screen damaged. The car was a government vehicle.

Collins said the protest march was politically motivated and had an ulterior motive.

The march, according to some observers was planned to discredit the RUF and Foday Sankoh but it turned out to be an anti-government demonstration as students were loudly heard insulting authorities for not allowing them to go to school and instead sending their children to expensive private schools with money stolen from the nation's coffers and with bribery money.

Armed Robbery! One killed, two injured

Armed robbers in military fatigues last Monday, March 27 at 21:30 hrs attacked the SAFECON petrol station at Cline Town, new road, opposite Cline town playing field.

The armed robbers reportedly opened fire, placed the salesmen at gun point. In the ensuing fracas the armed robbers killed one of the salesmen, named Bobson Kamara and seriously injured Alpha Bah and Issa Jalloh who are presently admitted at the Connaught hospital.The armed robbers carted all the money from the days’ sales.

Police say they are investigating the matter.

AFRO MERIC bears offsprings
By Sayoh Kamara

Afro Meric Beauty Saloon and institute on Saturday 25th March, 2000 awarded certificates to its students in a colourful ceremony held at the Miatta conference hall.

The graduands, forty four in number have completed a two year intensive course in cosmetology, hair and body care, manicure and pedicure. It comprised theoretical and practical training.

In a snap interview with this press, the proprietress, Mrs Mary Fornah- Koroma, stated that this is the first batch of graduands that have been consecrated officially by her institute so far..The first seven were trained by her and are now manning the operations of the saloon which also serves as the practicals centre.

The former teacher of Saint Annes School stated that she established the institute on December 9, 1993 after she returned from the United States of America where she pursued professional courses.She was there to further her studies in Education, but decided to change over to the present career as a hair dresser and cosmetologist because of her love of seeing women in their beauty gaits.

According to her, her motivation was spurred by her unrelenting desire in developing the middle man-power of her fellow female who are less fortunate to attain higher education. She maintained that she is mainly targeting this class inorder to help them upgrade their standards of living and to make them self reliant and contribute in nation building.

Mrs Fornah- Koroma further observed that because of the presumed low educational standards of her target group, the two years intensive course is divided into both theoretical and practical classes and the admission into either of these is determined by the grades scored during entry examinations.Fifty percent and above are admitted in the theory and practical class whilst below the mark are admitted only for practicals, and are instructed in both english and the lingua franca, creole.

She emphasised her vision: Seeing young Sierra Leonean girls including married women engage in genuine income generating activities as they become skilled and income earners.

“I believe that a woman with the capability of generating income can live peacefully”.

She also added “A home with only the husband as the bread winner is not as peaceful as when both couples contribute towards maintaining the home”.

She thanked the government and ministry of education for the support which her institute has been enjoying and the provision of school materials.

She however expressed her hope for government’s subsequent take over through the paying of instructors’ salaries.In the past it has been her responsbility.She solicited government’s assistance in acquiring a larger piece of land so that a bigger school and saloon complex could be built, as this will enhance a larger intake of students.She expressed confidence over her graduands’ abilities and aptitudes in the disciplines they have been certificated. She boasted,” they are going out there to spread the competence of Afro meric”.

She called on all parents and husbands to send their girl children and wives to the various skill learning institutes for she maintained,

“The girl child or woman is never a liability. She can be as useful as her male counterpart if her abilities are properly sapped, so send them out to learn.”

Palm wine seller killed
By Legally Cole

A palm wine seller, Kotoh Mansaray, a labourer attached to the Port Loko Police Station who also earned his living by selling palm wine after his official duty, was killed last week Thursday by Mamusu Turay.

The alleged killer is a regular palm wine drinker and customer to Kotoh Mansaray.

Sources from Port Loko stated that Mamusu had owed Kotoh about Le1000 for palm wine. On the day in question, Kotoh asked Mamusu for his money and this resulted to a scuffle.

Mamusu then struck Kotoh with a stick on the neck and the man fell on the ground unconscious and later died at the Port Loko Barracks Road.

Upon information, Police officers came to the scene of crime and Mamusu was later taken to the Port Loko Police Station for further investigations.

The remains of Kotoh Mansaray were taken to the Port Loko hosapital for postmorten which was carried out by Dr. M.S. Kargbo.

According to the postmorten result, the death was caused by an internal injury which may be connected with the strike on the neck.

Boy, 19, kills brother for cooked rice
By Abu Whyte Fofanah

A 19 year-old boy, Vandy Swarray, of 12 Smith Street, Goderich village appeared in court No 1 before Magistrate Ivan Rahman for allegedly killing his elder brother, Gbassay Swarray.

According to Prosecution Witness 3, Nelson Henry, on July 17 last year, the mother of both the deceased and the principal accused person cooked rice for sale which was her main business.

The mother, Aminata Sankoh, shared some of the food among her children, which was her routine before she proceeded to sell.

Whilst Vandy Swarray and his sister were eating their share, Gbassay Swarray appeared for his share.

It was at this time that their was reported to have left to buy a cake of soap. Both the deceased and the accused started a quarrel which resulted into a brawl. Vandy is reported to have collected a kitchen knife stabbed his elder brother, Gbassay Swarray, to death.

The mother, Aminata Sankoh, the accused Vandy Swarray and the remains of Gbassay Swarray were later taken to the Congo Cross police station and the corpse was conveyed to the Connaught hospital for post mortem. The case was adjourned to today, 29th March, 2000.

According to sources, the two brothers are pupils of the Services Secondary School, Juba Barracks and they are in JSS I and III respectively.

Police brags about connection

Police Inspector Sulaiman Massaquoi attached to the Police Training School Hastings is going about bragging that since he has connection in the police force, nobody will touch him even if he does anything bad.

This came about when his dog bit Betty Bangroh, wife of another police constable, at their residence at Grafton police baracks. In spite of several appeals from senior officers at the barracks for him to help the poor lady, Massaquoi refused to co-operate saying that very soon he would be promoted to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police and “this will be the end of the matter which is now before the CPO at Kissy police station,” Massaquoi bragged.

This incident which took place on the 6th March 2000 did not bother Inspector Massaquoi, for even when he was invited to make a statement at the Kissy police station, he did not honour the invitation.

"The frequent and unabated flaunting of their disregard for due process of the law by senior government functionaries such as the Minister of Presidential Affairs is seeping all the way down it seems. This is why the current administration must be removed in the next elections." a presidential aspirant told this press.

WFP’s emergency operation for 45,00 ex-combatants

A letter of understanding for an emergency operation to provide food assistance to an estimated 45,000 ex-combatants was signed in Freetown this week between the World Food Programme (WFP) Representative in Sierra Leone, Mr. Patrick Buckley, and the Minsiter of Development and Economic Planning, Dr. Khadi Sesay.

The operation is valued at US$ 2, 800,000, and the objective is to ‘contribute to the effort of Government and the international Communityinfostering peace and nationalreconciliation by promoting disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.’

This operation, which will begin at the end of March, will last for a period of six months. The two officials also signed a letter of understanding on the Sierra Leonean component of WFP’s West Regional Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO), which is valued at US$ 33.855 million.

This is for the provision of relief assistance to the victims of civil strife, refugees and internally displaced persons. It is also meant to facilitate the return of Sierra Leonean refugees from neighbouring countries as well as internally displaced persons. The operation will also facilitate the rehabilitation of the social and productive infrastructure and improve household food security. 580,000 people are expected to benefit from this assistance over a period of twelve months, which started in July 1999.

In his comments after signing the letter, the WFP representative, Patrick Buckley, said the programme is grateful to Sierra Leoneans for making it possible for them to operate in this country for more than thirty years now. He said it was his hope that the current programme would help to promote the cause of peace in this country. He called on the former fighting groups to be sincere in their professed commitment to peace in Sierra Leone.

“Without this”, he said, “all our efforts would go in vain.” He gave the assurance that the WFP is still committed to serving the people of Sierra Leone.

The Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Dr. Khadi Sesay, who signed on behalf of Government, said the WFP gesture must be used to maintain the basis for self sustaining development for Sierra Leone. She expressed gratitude to the WFP on behalf of government, noting that the agency was around during the crises of 1999 and helped save many lives by supplying food items at various centres. The Minister called on WFP to always involve government officials in the implementation of their programmes in order to ensure that the right steps are taken as they carry out their activities. DDR is making steady progress.....
Dr. Francis Kaikai

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Demobilisation, Diarmament and Reintegration, Dr. Francis Kaikai, has told a representative group of descendants of the Eastern Region that the DDR programme is making steady progress despite the fact that it experiences some hiccups from time to time.

Addressing the five-man team in his office this week, he said that the DDR programme poses a big challenge to this country, a challenge that he claimed the Secretariat is measuring up to. He enumerated some of the factors that have so far accounted for the slow pace of the disarmament process and informed them of current moves being made to identify sites for the construction of new demobilisation centres in various parts of the country.

The meeting also reiterated the crucial need for the disarmament process to be speeded up so that displaced people and refugees can go back to their respective communities. On the reintegration aspect of the DDR programme, Dr.Kaikai said that the low absorption capacity of Sierra Leonean institutions has been a major problem. However, he said that the Secretariat is doing all it can to provide a meaningful reintegration package for every ex-combatant.

Addressing the Executive Secretary earlier, the leader of the group, Ibrahim Mohamed Sesay, said their visit was a fact-finding mission aimed at getting up-to-date information about the DDR programme from the horse’s mouth. Other members of the team were S.S. Allieu, S.E. Johnny and J.E. Mbayo.

Meanwhile, according to figures released by the office of the National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR), a total of 20,721 combatants have so far disarmed, 11,774 arms collected and 198,836 ammunitions collected.

Of the said number, 6,605 Civil Defence Forces (CDFs), 4,012 RUF and 4,837 AFRC/Ex- SLA have so far disarmed.

Discrimination at Freetown Teachers’ College

A lecturer in the Laguage arts department of the Freetown Teachers’ College has told this press that he is yet to be reinstated after being dismissed for allegedly collaborating with the armed forces revolutionary council junta.

Mr.Sylvanus Johnson said that he was suspended from duty October 30, 1998 after he had been accused of sympathising with the junta. He said he was asked to attend an investigating committee which probed alleged junta collaborators.

“I was accused that the name Syl Johnson was aired over 98.1 FM radio station although I was not told what the message was.They also accused me of being in favour of working for the junta,” Mr Johnson explained.

He went on to explain that for most part of the junta rule, he was sick, and that he attended two meetings called by the college authorities in September and December 1997.

“In one of those meetings, it was decided that we show some semblance of willingness to work before our salaries could be paid. In fact, a committee was appointed to go in search of suitable lecture rooms where remedial classes could be held for final year students. I was not a member of that committee,” Mr Johnson told this press.

The lecturer said that he had written several letters to the president of the college council and the principal suggesting an independent enquiry and his subsequent reinstatement but to no avail.

“My house and property at Waterloo were all burnt and destroyed. My children, wife and I were tied and beaten by rebels during the January 6 1999 invasion of Freetown,” he revealed.

*************************
The Pool is continuing our investigations of the ban on Boss Cigareetes threat sent to Germany by SLPP Top Functionaries. We have already interviewed senior staff personel at Boss, Hamburg Germany and we will be interviewing Isabelle Corre, the Customer Service Representative this afternoon.

Monday March 27th 2000.
Sheka Mansaray sends Shockwaves

The RUF Leader recently made several allegations that a massive influx of newly trained kamajors from Bonthe had been joining up with older kamajors in the South and East of Sierra Leone with brand new weapons.

Many citizens had dismissed Sankoh’s claims as ludicruous because the government was repeatedly announcing that the kamajor force was being disarmed.

However, the National Security Adviser, Mr. Sheka Mansaray in a recent FM98.1 ‘Meet Di Press’ programme in response to a query about the alleged increasing insecurity on the eastern axis of Sierra Leone caused by an increased numbers of armed kamajors, confirmed that indeed kamajors had been deployed by the government throughout the south and east of Sierra Leone and especially around the Mano River Bridge to forestall any “invasion attempt” by the exiled RUF commando, Maskita Bockarie.

Mr Mansaray told the listening public that in case of secret plans by General Maskita to attack the RUF Headquarters in Kailahun “only the kamajors stationed at the border” can stop Maskita from attacking RUF Buedu Headquarters.

The confirmation that the government is still using kamajors as a fighting force has sent shock waves throughout Freetown’s citizenry.

“I had just dismissed Sankoh’s complaints before I heard Mansaray last night. Now, tell me, how will RUF disarm with their formidable arch enemies being armed to fight? How can Mansaray say kamajors are there to protect RUF Headquarters?” a senior DDR civil servant requesting anonymity fumed to this press.

Many Sierra Leoneans have become distressed with this latest development which might see the whole Disarmament programme torpedoed.

Demby in $ 20,000 bribery scandal

Dr. Albert Joe Demby, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, has been named throughout last week in several local newspapers as having allegedly received a whooping US$ 20,000 bribery from one Lamrana Sow of Jagico Enterprise to help Sow gain the licence as the sole importer of Boss Cigarettes from Germany.

Extensive investigations done by The Pool in the last few days have revealed that the proprietor of Jagico Enterprise and some top Fullah businessmen called on the Vice President with a brown envelope containing US$ 20,000

The vice president in turn, allegedly instructed the Deputy Trade Minster, Theresa Koroma to cancel the licence of Kamtoko Africa Trade Links in favour of Jagiko Enterprise of 6, Lumley Street..

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mike Lamin, says he has nothing to do with the said scandal but that the matter is presently under investigations and the outcome will be made public.

The vice president has not reacted to the allegations that have been repeatedly highlighted by several local presshouses since last week. The Deputy Minister of Trade, Theresa Koroma, when contacted by our reporters vehemently refused to comment on the matter.

Kamtoko Africa Trade Links were granted a licence by the government in 1997 as the sole importers of Boss Cigarettes to Sierra Leone for the next 14 years. But the Ministry refused to renew their licence for this year with no explanation.

INEC registers another Party

The newly sworn in members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday, March 24, issued a final certificate of registration to the People’s democratic Alliance (PDA) party.

INEC’s letter to the Interim leader of PDA, Capt. (Rtd.) Abdul Rahman Kamara, empowers the party organise and hold public meetings.

The letter drew the attention of the party leader to the enormous efforts that are currently being made by all concerned Sierra Leoneans and the International Community to foster, understanding, harmony and reconciliation during the upcoming political process. It therefore urges the party to, “in this critical moment of the implementation of the Lome peace Accord of July 7, 1999, not to do anything that will in any way disturb the peace process”.

Capt. (Rtd) Abdul Rahman Kamara was the Public Relations Officer in the NPRC military regime, where he later resigned to join the People’s Democratic Party in 1996. Following the PDP-SLPP pact to defeat UNPP’s presidential flagbearer, he became the first Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning under President Kabbah in 1996.

This brings to 19 the registered political parties in Sierra Leone. They include the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party, SLPP, United National People's Party, UNPP, People's Democratic Party, PDP, All People's Congress, APC, National Unity Party, NUP, Democratic Centre Party, DCP, National People's Party, NPP, People's Progressive Party, PPP, National Democratic Alliance, NDA, People's National Congress, PNC, National Unity Movement, NUM, Revolutionary United Front Party, RUFP, Social Democratic Party,SDP and the National Alliance Democratic Party, NADP.

More Parties Kick Against Kabbah's INEC Commissioners

The Leaders of several registered political parties have also added their voice to that of PDP's Abdulai Mustapha and RUFP's Foday Sankoh against the way and manner in which President Kabbah selected the newly sworn in INEC Comissioners.

According to reliable reports reaching this press, at least six registered political parties have already written strongly worded letters to President Kabbah protesting the appointment of the INEC Commissioners. These parties include the UNPP, the PPP, the PNC and the RUFP.

More political parties are expected to add their voices to the complaining voices in the coming days.

All the commissioners were first approved by parliament before Kabbah swore them in last Monday. However, only five of the 19 political parties are represented in parliament. And the UNPP parliamentarians are currently estranged from the UNPP Executive Leadership.

Sankoh plans to "Stay Put."

Chairman Foday Sankoh is constantly complaining to the International community and most specifically the moral guarantors to the Lome Peace Accord about the continued marginalisation of the RUFP in the decision making of the state.

“The government of President Kabbah and the rest of the International community must realise that if they continue to marginalise the RUF, then the peace will stay long to come. This is not a threat but an observation.” Sankoh informed reporters at his residence this past weekend.

Commenting on the UN blanket amnesty and the travel ban, Sankoh said the general amnesty was granted to all warring factions, which include the RUF, the AFRC and the government forces (CDF and ECOMOG).

“It is therefore unreasonable to allow other factions who have committed heinous crimes against the people of Sierra Leone to be traveling anywhere without hindrance or travel ban, whilst the RUF personnel are single-handedly targeted to restrict their movement.” Sankoh argued.

“I went to parliament last week and invited the MPs to travel with myself, ECOMOG and UNAMSIL to disarm all RUF personel in Kono and Kailahun. What happened? UNAMSIL blocked all of us from going to Kailahun. Well, I have decided not go to anywhere again, including traveling within Sierra Leone until the issue of the travel ban is clearly ironed out.” Sankoh stated.

“I am staying put in the capital.” he re-emphasised.

Paul Bangura in Character Assasination

Paul Bangura In Assassination Campaign

Mr. Chernor Sesay, a Sierra Leonean born International businessman has denied a local newspaper report of having in possession a licence that gives him authority to trade in diamonds, disregarding the official channels.

The newspaper report alleged that, the Bank of Sierra Leone Governor, James Sampha Koroma and the former AFRC chairman, now chairman of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (CCP), Johnny Paul Koroma were instrumental in the issuance of the said licence.

Sesay said such allegations are a figment of the writer’s imagination.

He blamed Paul Bangura, the notorious and most controversial businessman during the APC regime for being the brain behind the assassination of his character.

Sesay, who called this press from Senegal to deny the allegation said he is a respectable international businessman with reputable records and added that no amount of character assassination will thwart his efforts to help in convincing international business institutions to invest in Sierra Leone.

Tuberculosis is a silent killer ...WHO Rep

The World Health Organisation Representative in Sierra Leone has described Tuberculosis as a silent killer.

Speaking during a press briefing organised by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to mark World TB Day, Dr. Williams Aldis attributed the slow eradication of tuberculosis to the insufficient control strategies. He revealed that 600,000 people in Africa die of the disease every year.

Addressing pressmen, the chairman for the occasion who is also the Director-General of Medical Services described World TB Day as an opportunity to heighten awareness for tuberculosis through the media, and to ensure that the country’s TB burden is recognised both locally and internationally.

Dr. Sheku Tejan Kamara said that tuberculosis kills more adults every year than any other disease. He also revealed that 26% all avoidable deaths are caused by tuberculosis.

Dr. Kamara however opined that no one should die of tuberculosis any longer as there is the DOTS treatment programme which has been successful in large and small countries.

The Director went on to say that in 1999, out of the 3,160 tuberculosis cases treated, 2902 were new cases that were never treated before and 2058 were new pulmonary cases capable of transmitting the disease to other people. “Among those that completed their treatment and whose treatments were evaluated by the programme, 9 out of 10 were declared cured,” Dr. Kamara told pressmen. He attributed what he described as tremendous success to the DOT programme. He said this year’s theme which is Forging New Partnership To Stop TB, is a call to reach out beyond the communities to mobilise efforts to stop TB.

He appealed to medical doctors, the Pharmacy Board, Women’s and Civil Society groups to join the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fight the spread of tuberculosis.

MARCH 24TH 2000

Striking teachers urge pupils....
"SLPP IS USELESS!! GO HOME!!"

In spite of several appeals made by both the Minister of Youths, Education and Sports, Dr. Alpha T.Wurie and the Director General of Education, Alfred Bobson Sesay, members of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) have resolved to go on a nationwide strike effective March 22.

Our Investigative team discovered that school teachers all over the Western area have agreed not to carry out their functions until the SLPP government meet their demands. In most of the schools visited by our team both in the eastend and westend of Freetown, it was found out that even the few teachers that turned up in their schools refused to perform their duties and the school pupils were ordered to return to their homes until their ( teachers’) problems are adequately addressed by the authorities.

In one one of the schools in the eastend of the city a teacher reportedly instructed his pupils saying, “Go home, the SLPP government is useless. We cannot continue to work under such administration in which the Ministers and politicians continue to swing in absolute corruption.”

The teacher who prefered anonymity further disclosed to our investigative team that they as intellectuals cannot allow themselves to be fooled by what he described as “these SLPP corrupt politicians.”

“How do they expect us to survive when they have held on to our salaries and backlog payments for several months?” queried another teacher who have not received his salary for more than four months.

Meanwhile reports reaching this press from our provincial correspondents in Bo and Kenema intimated that teachers in those areas supported the decision reached by the SLTU’s National Executive in Freetown calling for a stay home strike until further notice.

Presidential Affairs Minister Defies Judiciary!!
By Abu Whyte Fofanah

A case described as disobedience of law and order is being investigated by Police headquarters.

According to reliable sources, the driver of the Presidential Affairs Minister, Ibrahim Kamara, refused to attend court on several occasions after he had been invited.

In Magistrate Court No 8, a warrant of arrest was issued to police constable 1248 Rashid to arrest Ibrahim Kamara.

Sources revealed that when constable Rashid arrived at the driver’s residence known as the House of Exile at Hill Station, he was asked to check at the Presidential Affairs Minister’s residence which is just a few kilometres from the driver’s house. Sources further say Constable Rashid contacted the security officers of the said Minister.

When Mr. Momodu Koroma was informed about the arrest of his driver, he became angry, shouted at the police officer and removed the warrant paper from him, and asked him to quit his residence.

Momodu Koroma told the police officer that his driver Ibrahim Kamara will never appear in court for any case. Sources concluded that the warrant paper was only handed back to constable Rashid by Momodu Koroma when he was already on his way to report the matter to the court.

The driver, Ibrahim Kamara, was said to have assaulted a police officer, Woman Corporal Fudia Kargbo. The case has been taken to court for trial even though Ibrahim and his boss are continuing to disobey law and order.

1,345 Child Soldiers Demobilised

A total of 1345 child combatants have been demobilised and handed over to the United Nations Children’s Fund and other child protection agencies.

Making the disclosure on Wednesday March 22 at the Miata Conference Centre, the Senior Child Protection Adviser attached to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, Bintuin Conzales, said that the release of all abducted children was pertinent to the Lome peace Accord.

Delivering the keynote address during the “Stop the Use of Child Soldiers Campaign” organised by the Christian organisation, CARITAS, the UNICEF representative, Jo Anna Van Gerpen stated that in the decade since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, more than two million children have been killed and more than six million injured or disabled in armed conflicts.

Madam Van Gerpen drew the attention of her audience to the atrocities of the nine year civil conflict, saying, “The nine years of conflict in Sierra Leone have torn families apart. Children have been deprived of the special attention and care that can be provided only by a family.”

The UNICEF Representative went on to say, “Mothers and fathers have suffered the pain of not knowing what has happened to their children.”

She called on the leaders of the warring factions to set May 15 as a goal for the disarmament and demobilisation of all children associated with the fighting forces. Madam Van Gerpen implored on all to demonstrate in concrete terms that the leadership of the country is truly committed to stopping the use child soldiers.

Speaking on behalf on the Revolutionary United Front leader, Foday Sankoh, Eldred Colins reiterated his organisations’s commitment to the Lome Peace Agreement, saying, “The war is over for the RUF. Today we are exerecised by the challenges of peace.”

Mr. Collins went on to say, “We are deploying every effort to ensure that peace is achieved without undue delay.”

In his welcome address earlier, the Director of CARITAS, Ibrahim Sesay said the campaign marked a milestone in bringing together personalities to give their unflinching support from all locations

“It is a call to action to get children back to their families and regain their childhood,” Mr. Sesay emphasised.

Polio Immunization Kicks off

The first round of the intensified National Immunization Days (NIDs) gets into full swing tomorrow and Sunday when an estimated 840,000 under-five children in Sierra Leone will be targeted for immunization.

Highlighted in this year’s Polio Eradication Campaign is Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance. Ministry of Health and Sanitation Epidemiologist, Dr. Duramani Conteh who heads the AFP Surveillance Programme in NIDs described AFP as one of the strategies for polio eradication to ascertain whether a country is polio free.

He said that after all the AFP surveillance in the country and that is no wild polio virus isolated for a period of time, then that country can say it has strong AFP surveillance that can be able to capture any polio case if it occurs.

According to Dr. Conteh, “it is the AFP Surveillance Secretariat that has the mandate and will give advice to the Ministry of Health authorities to show that Sierra Leone is a polio free state.

For further details of interview, check our Current Features Page.

TB kills 600,000 people

As Sierra Leone joins nations around the world to mark World Tuberculosis Day today, the country office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Freetown released a statement by its Regional Director, Gambian-born Dr. Ebrahim Samba, stating that Tuberculosis has become the silent killer of at least 600,000 people in Africa each year.

The statement from Harare, Zimbabwe, estimated that 800,000 people would die by the end of this year and approximately, two million new cases will emerge.

He said that HIV infection, which is already wrecking havoc in the region, has become the single most important cause of the rapid progression from infection to full blown tuberculosis, not to mention the recent upsurge in TB epidemics.

According to the WHO Regional Director, it is estimated that between 30 to 45 percent of all new TB cases in Africa are also infected with HIV and that TB alone accounts for about 40 percent of AIDS deaths in Africa.

He disclosed that at least 80 percent of all TB victims are between 15 and 49 years and if left untreated, a person with active TB can effect between 10 - 15 people in one year.

Dr. Samba said TB is the single biggest killer of women in Africa. He noted that DOTS prevent new TB infections and can add at least two years of life to an HIV positive person and 25-30 years to an HIV negative person.

Dr.Samba urged African governments to translate their political will and commitment into concrete actions to implement effective DOTS based TB control programmes by allocating adequate resources and ensuring strong leadership and accountability.

In Freetown, the WHO Representative, Dr. William Aldis said the Directly Observed Treatment Shots (DOTS) is WHO’s recommended strategy for the detection and cure of TB which can permanently cure nine out of ten TB patients who fully complete the treatment.He appealed to all TB patients to follow the strategy.

EASTERN PADDLE DISPLAY AS...
Rebels send message to Gov't!

The traditional Western Area mask dancer commonly called ‘PADDLE’ was out on the streets of Freetown last Thursday, March 16, to celebrate the Islamic feast of ‘Eid-ul Adha’ after almost a decade in oblivion.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly youths, thronged the main streets of the city to "dance paddle."

However, the group that attracted most onlookers was that of the rebels. They arrived in Freetown in an unprecedented huge number, fully unarmed and fully set to 'dance paddle' and at the same time to send a message to the government and the international community.

They sang in krio: “Money nor dae, money nor dar, money nor dae, oh! Unah gee we de dollar, du ya, du ya, mek we pass de barrel” (No money, no money, no money. Give us the dollar, we beg, so that we can pass the gun).

Talking to the head of the rebel group, who gave his name as “Colonel No-bush-shaking,” he disclosed that they are tired of fighting but that they are not sure of their future.

He said the manner in which the payment of disarmed combatants is conducted does not encourage those still holding out in the bush to come out and surrender their guns.

The bush colonel said if the government had introduced a ‘cash-for-guns’ system, the disarmament process would have ended by now.

Elaborating on his ideas, the bush colonel said, "if the moment a fighter hands over his/her gun he automatically receives his/her US$300 at the reception centre, the entire exercise would have been completed by now."

“But disarming us, and later dragging us to a camp to wait for an uncertain period before we receive the money in piece-meal fashion is definitely not encouraging.”

UNAMSIL Cancels Sankoh’s Kailahun trip.

Chairman Foday Sankoh could not make his trip scheduled for last Friday to his former rebel headquarters of Kailahun.

In a telephone interview, Sankoh disclosed that the trip did not materialise because UNAMSIL said they are not yet fully prepared to effect the disarmament in Kailahun. Sankoh cannot move around Sierra Leone without the prior approval of ECOMOG and UNAMSIL.

Sankoh further intimated that he had informed his field commander, Brigadier Issa Sesay, to move to Pendembu to alert his combatants to get ready for the disarmament process on that day.

“Issa was already in Pendembu waiting. I felt so much disappointed when the trip could not materialise. This was what I was telling the parliamentarians when I met them that the logistics are not yet there to carry out a successful disarmament programme. But they were thinking otherwise”, Sankoh retorted.

UNAMSIL could not be reached for their comments as they were said to be busy preparing the ground for the arrival of the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet.

Sankoh, on Wednesday, invited the parliamentarians to go with him to Kailahun to help in the disarmament exercise.

EASTERN PADDLE DISPLAY AS...
Rebels send message to Gov't!

The traditional Western Area mask dancer commonly called ‘PADDLE’ was out on the streets of Freetown last Thursday, March 16, to celebrate the Islamic feast of ‘Eid-ul Adha’ after almost a decade in oblivion.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly youths, thronged the main streets of the city to "dance paddle."

However, the group that attracted most onlookers was that of the rebels. They arrived in Freetown in an unprecedented huge number, fully unarmed and fully set to 'dance paddle' and at the same time to send a message to the government and the international community.

They sang in krio: “Money nor dae, money nor dar, money nor dae, oh! Unah gee we de dollar, du ya, du ya, mek we pass de barrel” (No money, no money, no money. Give us the dollar, we beg, so that we can pass the gun).

Talking to the head of the rebel group, who gave his name as “Colonel No-bush-shaking,” he disclosed that they are tired of fighting but that they are not sure of their future.

He said the manner in which the payment of disarmed combatants is conducted does not encourage those still holding out in the bush to come out and surrender their guns.

The bush colonel said if the government had introduced a ‘cash-for-guns’ system, the disarmament process would have ended by now.

Elaborating on his ideas, the bush colonel said, "if the moment a fighter hands over his/her gun he automatically receives his/her US$300 at the reception centre, the entire exercise would have been completed by now."

“But disarming us, and later dragging us to a camp to wait for an uncertain period before we receive the money in piece-meal fashion is definitely not encouraging.”

UNAMSIL Cancels Sankoh’s Kailahun trip.

Chairman Foday Sankoh could not make his trip scheduled for last Friday to his former rebel headquarters of Kailahun.

In a telephone interview, Sankoh disclosed that the trip did not materialise because UNAMSIL said they are not yet fully prepared to effect the disarmament in Kailahun. Sankoh cannot move around Sierra Leone without the prior approval of ECOMOG and UNAMSIL.

Sankoh further intimated that he had informed his field commander, Brigadier Issa Sesay, to move to Pendembu to alert his combatants to get ready for the disarmament process on that day.

“Issa was already in Pendembu waiting. I felt so much disappointed when the trip could not materialise. This was what I was telling the parliamentarians when I met them that the logistics are not yet there to carry out a successful disarmament programme. But they were thinking otherwise”, Sankoh retorted.

UNAMSIL could not be reached for their comments as they were said to be busy preparing the ground for the arrival of the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet.

Sankoh, on Wednesday, invited the parliamentarians to go with him to Kailahun to help in the disarmament exercise.

Sankoh, Parliament Draw Daggers

The Chairman of the Commission for the Strategic Resources, Foday Sabanah Sankoh, disappointed Members of Parliament on Wednesday last week when he refused to sign an undertaking which was in the form of a resolution.

The purpose of Sankoh’s meeting with MPs was to thow light on the slow pace of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme, and the refusal of his combatants to allow for the deployment of the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces known as UNAMSIL.

Different speakers expressed their bitterness over the RUF’s deliberate refusal to disarm, demobilse, and allow free and unhindered access to all parts of the country.

Sankoh, in his reaction, expressed his delight and thanked the MPs for their invitation, which he described as historic. He reaffirmed his commitment to the Lome Peace Accord and the DDR programme.

Sankoh disclosed that there are shortfalls in the implementation process as some of the provisions are not adequately addressed. He emphasised the need for the upgrading of the DDR reception centres which he maintained are in appaling conditions..

He also charged that since the signing of the Peace Accord on 7th July last year, there has been too much talking, thereby eclipsing the realities of putting the document into action.

He admonished MPs to desist from casting aspersions based on hearsay and urged them to play active role in the process. He asked for forgiveness on behalf of the Revolutionary United Front and all those who have been destructive to the lives of Sierra Leoneans over the period of the war.

The resolution which Sankoh refused to sign included allowing free access to UNAMSIL and humanitarian agencies, the establishment of local, district and central authorities countrywide and that there should be no elections until the country is gun-free.

Okere Adams meets Provincial Farmers

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources, Okere Adams, over the weekend took a provincial tour on a meet-the-farmers programme. He went to Bo, Kenema, Pujehun, Mile 91, Konthakuma and Masiaka Town.

The purpose of the tour was to educate the farmers on government’s determination to assist them in all aspects to become self sufficient.

On reaching at Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District, the Minister’s place of birth, tens of thousands of people from all the surrounding villages turned out to give what they described as “our son of the soil” a heroic welcome.

There were drumming and dancing from morning till mid afternoon when the Minister departed for Konthakuma where a similar reception was accorded him too.

Arriving at Masiaka town at about 4:15 p.m, Minister Adams was received by crowds of “Bubu dancers” and the Ojeh society.

In his welcome speech, the Acting Paramount chief, Pa Alimamy Ojuku Sesay on behalf of his subjects outlined the present plight and needs of the people in the Koya chiefdom.

He said the people in Koya are farmers and are presently in need of rice seedlings, both upland and swamp.

“We plant palm fruits, mangoes, onions, pepper, cassava and potatoes. We need the government to assist us with seedlings since everything we had worked for has been destroyed by the war”, Pa Sesay appealed.

Minister Adams assured the farmers of government’s determination to provide them with the necessary inputs to kickstart the fartming activities. He said he is always in constant touch with Hon. S.A.T. Koroma to tap his talents and magic on how he becomes the best Agriculture Minister in Sierra Leone ever.

“S.A.T. was without a degree but he has proved to be the best Agriculture Minister ever and I want to follow his footsteps,” Adams reaffirmed.

Among the Minister’s entourage were Hon. Katta Sesay and other top functionaries in the Ministry.

No Vengeful Beatings in Kono
By Sayoh Kamara.

Confirmed reports by journalists who accompanied UNAMSIL personel to Koidu town state that there has not been any vengeful beatings meted out against Kono indigenes as was reported by several news media last week.

According to one Sahr Tombu who left Kono two days ago, nothing of that sort happened throughout his ten days stay in Korkuima. “This is news to me. We were in Kono when we heard it on the BBC Focus on Africa programme and everyone was surprised,” he said.

However Tombu disclosed that beatings are actually being carried out on people who fall foul of the RUF’s established laws.

Tombu cited the case of an RUF combatant who was beaten for twelve hours until he died for stealing pieces of diamonds.

Meanwhile, the UN observers are on a daily reconnaisance visit to the township of Koidu. They are on a survey of areas for the establishment of their camps.

In another development, the brother of one Sabatha James (CJ) commonly called Kamanda was seriously beaten by RUF combatants when a letter from CJ to Kamanda was intercepted. The letter was advising Kamanda to leave Kono as the UN is contemplating on the use of force to deploy. The combatants are quoted as saying that they are punishing Kamanda for his brother’s "alarming information."

Parliamentary Committee on Energy & Power And SALWACO Tour Water Plants.

The Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Power and the Management of Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) made a one day tour to the Sanda and Banda water treatment works in Lungi last Friday. The Parliamentary delegation was headed by its chairman, Hon. Ibrahim Sorie and the SALWACO General Manager, Mr. Justine Musa. On arrival at the Lungi Water Company Office, the delegation was received by the PRO, Miss Agatha Swarray , who later introduced other senior members of staff to the Parliamentary delegation.

At the Sanda treatment worksyard, the delegation was received by the Regional Manager, A.K. Kargbo, who later took them on a conducted tour of the Pumping Station, the Filter Tanks, Generator Room, laboratory, and to the plant at Sanda river which is the source from which water is taken and treated for the entire Lungi community.

In a brief statement, the chairman of the Parliamentary committee, Hon Ibrahim Sorie, said that the purpose of the visit was to assess the facilities presently available, and whether clean water is supplied to the Lungi community, thereby finding a way to improving and maximising the use of water. Other members of the committee such as Hon. S.M. Kanu and Hon Martin Sama spoke in similar vein.

Responding, the Regional Manager of the Lungi water works, A.K. Kargbo, welcomed the parliamentary delegation, adding that the treatment plant was designed to provide safe drinking water to a population of over 100,000 inhabitants, including the foreign troops, displaced, ex-combatants and war victims.

He said that the provision of safe drinking water was made possible through the use of three types of chemicals such as Aluminium sulphate, Calcium Hypochlorite and Calcium Hydroxide.

Kargbo said that these chemicals have been very successful, as there has never been reports of health hazard such as cholera and other related diseases since the installation of these treatment plants.

He said that the present plant is to feed a big distribution network whose circumference is about 36 miles, adding that it includes the distribution network of the old pumping station which was interrelated to the new system.

Mr. Kargbo also outlined two major reasons why the treatment plant cannot feed the entire network with water supply, stating that the present plant is not pumping water while the capacity of the highlift pump is very small compared to the high demand.

He said Lungi Town, Tintafor, the DDR camp, Government Hospital, Police Barracks, the International Airport, the Hotels within the Airport areas, Tulun and parts of Mahera are supplied with water from the treatment plant but there is a fall in water pressure in these areas during the cause of supply, adding that there are many towns that are not getting water supply as a result of the reasons mentioned earlier.

He also stressed the need to rehabilitate the Banda old pumping station which was damaged as a result of the war, including the overhead tanks and other tanks at Rotifunk whose capacity is 550 metres, each designed to provide water to other areas presently without water supply.

In his contribution, the General Manager of SALWACO, Mr Justine Musa, commended the present parliament for their initiative to bring development to the common people, adding that it is a parliament that works for its people, unlike previous ones whom the people were serving.

He said that the present Sanda treatment plant was estimated at 250,000 dollars in 1989 when it was erected and there is need to rehabilitate the Sanda treatment works which needs expansion estimated at one million dollars, including the expansion of the water source and distribution network.

Mr. Musa said that the Banda treatment works need new machines which will be estimated at 1.3 million dollars to improve the distribution network and overhead tanks, adding that SALWACO was able to provide only 350,000 gallons of water for the Lungi Community out of its estimated 1,000,000 gallongs which should be provided for an ever increasing population.

He mentioned that during the cause of the rebel invasion in Lungi, one 125 KVA (DAF) Generator was destroyed but he underscored the efforts of DFID for providing two new ones which has enabled them to supply clean drinking water.

He also noted with caution that only few people in Lungi pay for water supply as others believe that supplying water to them is their right and natural gift from God.

The PRO, Agatha Swarray, mentioned their constraints with mobility to disseminate information to the Lungi Community on the importance of clean drinking water and the payment of water rates. She called on the authorities to provide a vehicle for that wing of the company.

The parliamentary committee also visited the Lungi DDR camp where they were received by a UNAMSIL Captain and the DFID officer in charge of the camp Henry Vagg, and Mathew Ridout in charge of logistics/administration.

The delegation was taken on a conducted tour to the camp store and kitchen, and was able to meet with about 200 newly arrived ex-combatants from Makeni.

Hon. Ibrahim Sorie told the ex-combatants that his committee has gone there to ascertain how much clean drinking water is being suplied to the camp and to express parliament’s concern for them.

Ex-combatants chanted songs that they have agreed to stop fighting and rebuild their country. They confirmed that their camp is provided with enough water for consumption.

The Committee also visited the Airport Authority where they were received on arrival by Mr. Swarray-Deen who confirmed that enough water has been supplied to the Authority by SALWACO as they in turn always try to pay their bills.

After meeting with the local chiefdom authorities, the parliamentary committee stressed the need for the payment of clean drinking water within their area.

Hon. Ibrahim Sorie said that Parliament extend their thanks to the Lungi chiefdom authorities for the role they played during the cause of the interregnum. The committee called on chiefs to help sensitize their subjects about the need for clean drinking water and to pay for it while the chiefs called on the committee to help them rehabilitate the electric poles and systems so that power will return to Lungi once more as they are ready to pay for electricity supply.

Big Boost For Polio Campaign

The Polio Eradication Campaign has received a big boost in its effort to stamp the deadly disease out of Sierra Leone.

In a speech delivered by the UNICEF Representative during a pre-press briefing on March 17, JOAnna Van Gerpen disclosed that her organisation will contribute more than five million doses of polio vaccine. She also stated that Aventis, a company which manufactures polio vaccine, has agreed to donate three million doses for the National Immunization Days in Sierra Leone, and that the Canadian Government has already donated two and a half million capsules of vitamin A for distribution during the third round of National Immunization Days.

The UNICEF Representative added that the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL and the World Food Programme are contributing logistics support to help move vaccines and other supplies to the Provincial areas. In addition, Medicines San Frontier and other Non Governmental Organisations are sulpplying personnel to mobilise the public and supervise the vaccination process.

Talking on the steady decline of polio cases, Van Gerpen stated that in 1999, only 5,359 cases of polio were reported, compared to an estimated 350,000 in 1998,

“This shows that polio has disappeared from most of northern and southern Africa, but it is prevalent in sub-Sahara Africa, particularly in countries affected by conflict,” Van Gerpen said.

She expressed satisfaction over last year’s National Immunization Days during which, she said, 95 percent of the targeted population were vaccinated.

Van Gerpen paid glowing tribute to the National Immunization Day Secretariat and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for finding ways to overcome the difficulties and to work together to achieve the eradication of polio.


WEDNESDAY MARCH 15TH 2000
BASHARIANS CROWN NEW IMAM

The Basharia Islamic Movement on Sunday officially confirmed Sheikh Abu Bakarr Kamara as its new Chief Imam at the Masjid Rahman Mosque, Bombay Street.

Sheikh Kamara succeeds the founder of the movement and former Chief Imam, Sheikh Imam Basharr Sankoh Yillah who died last year after a short illness.

Handing over the staff of office and certificate to the new Imam, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah congratulated Sheikh Bakarr on his new appointment and admonished him to work in the interest of his muslim followers both within and without his jamaat.

The chairman of the ceremony, Mr. Yayah Deen Kamara, who is also chairman of the Temne Central Mosque, Oldfield Street, praised the president for his efforts to unite the Sierra Leonean populace and to bring lasting peace to the coutnry.

He requested government to consider the payment of salaries to Imams.

In reply, president Kabbah said the constitution of Sierra Leone does not permit the payment of salaries to Imams by the central government. He however disclosed that the government has approached some Islamic organisations to help in that direction. Thousands of muslims both men and women attended the ceremony.

The Basharia Islamic Movement is the largest muslim organisation with the highest number of muslim followers in Sierra Leone. It has branches all over the country, and each of these branches has different jamaats such as the Young Men Muslim Jamaat and the Jamaatul Birr.

NDA Leader Storms Kuntolo
By Sorie Ibrahim Sesay.

The leader of the National Democratic Alliance Party, Mr Amadu Jalloh, last Saturday received a red carpet welcome from his supporters at Kuntoloh, Kissy Mess Mess in Freetown.

Addressing thousands of people at the Kuntoloh playing field, Mr. Jalloh spoke on the neglect of the people in that community by the present government and appealed to them to vote for his party in the next elections in order to improve their welfare. He said it was pathetic to note that the people in that area are going without some basic amenities like electricity supply and proper drinking water. He therefore urged them to unite behind the NDA for a better Sierra Leone. He admonished his supporters to refrain from violent campaign as it would not augur well for sustainable peace in the country.

He paid special tribute to the signitories of the Lome Peace accord and appealed to everybody to ensure its success.

Earlier, the chairlady for the Kuntoloh Community, Mrs. Fatmata Bangura, welcomed the leader on behalf of the people. She told the mammoth crowd that it was her responsibility to bring to them one that has interest in improving their welfare. She described Mr. Jalloh as a developer and therefore appealed to the people to rally behind him in the forthcoming elections so that their community will be improved.

SANKOH MEETS PARLIAMENT TODAY!

The Chairman for the management of Strategic Mineral Resources, National Reconstruction and Development, who is also leader of the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP) Foday Saybana Sankoh has agreed to honour parliament’s invitation to throw light on the slow pace with which the peace agreement is moving.

Recently, Chairman Sankoh caused an uproar in parliament after a letter written by him, explaining his reasons for not availing himself for questioning was read to the house.

Veteran politician and leader of the majority party in parliament, Hon. Sewa Bockarie Marrah is reported to have made this announcement yesterday, during the fourth session of parliament.

Earlier Sankoh said he was backing down from his defiant stance not to defy parliament as an institution, but rather to register his paramount concern for parliamentarians to discuss the way forward for the peace process, and how to get relief and other humanitarian assistance to people in the north and east of the country, who have largely been neglected for political rather than security reasons.

Sankoh’s change of heart has been greeted as welcomed news by parlaimentarians who were much concerned about the sanctity and credibility of parliament as an institution which the people depend on for hearing their views.

Both Sankoh and parliament have demonstrated that disagreements could be thrashed out through peaceful means and the nation saved from unpleasant and worrisome developments.

“Don’t misuse the youths!!”.... Kabbah warns

“Don’t allow yourselves to be used by anyone to do anything that will be detrimental to the development of the country”.

This was the advise given by President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to the youths during the official launching ceremony of the Youth Reintegration Training and Education for Peace programme.

Speaking at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex, Kingtom on Saturday, March 11, 2000, President Kabbah warned that it is immoral and unpatriotic to waste the energies of young people just for the benefit of a few politicians, adding that youths were used as thugs for the advancement of the political ideologies of some people.

Dilating on the peace process, President Kabbah said that peace without disarmament and demobilisation is meaningless, and that it is counter-productive if ex-exombatants are not reintegrated into the society. He therefore saw the Youth Reintegration Programme as a symbolic transformation of the society from war to peace, adding that it is an opportunity for ex-combatants to adapt themselves into the society.

On his part, the Minister of Youths, Education and Sports, Alpha Wurie, said that mass illiteracy and unemployment are some of the components that continue to plague the youths. He therefore saw the Youth Programme as the basis for peace building. Dr. Wurie said the objective of the programme was to provide remedial educational opportunity to ex-combatants through the use of new models.

The Youth Reintegration Training and Education for Peace Programme, sponsored by the United States government, is a nationwide programme aimed at the reintegration of ex-combatants, activist youths, disadvantaged youths, refugees, and the internally displaced back into their communities.

Weapons & Ammo destruction begin at Masiaka

The destruction of abandoned explosives and other weapons and ammunition left behind in different areas in the country started at Masiaka town and its environs early this week.

The exercise which is being carried out by UNAMSIL and a weapons and bomb disposal expert of the NCDDR, Ian Biddle, is aimed at ensuring the safety of civilians especially those living in the countryside, from the danger posed by the abandoned ammunition.

According to Mr. Biddle, most of the explosive had to be detonated in the areas in which they were located to avoid the risk involved in moving them around. Mr. Biddle was able to see a sizeable amount of explosives such as cluster and mortar bombs, a surface to air missile, and assorted canisters of gas, grenades and magazines.

Captain S.D. Sah, the UNAMSIL bomb disposal expert, told Ian Biddle that dangerous and unexploded explosives had been found in various areas at Moa Barraks in Daru. He cautioned people in the areas against moving unidentifiable objects as they could be dangerous.

Meanwhile, the American Ambassador, Joseph Melrose, was in Daru on Tuesday to get first hand information about the progress of the disarmament process in that area. He was informed by camp administrators that ex-combatants feel disappointed when they receive no money for their guns.

NGO Helps The Blind
By Abu Whyte Fofanah.

The Community Health Service Volunteers - Sierra Leone (CHSV-SL) last week paid an unannounced visit to the Milton Margai School for the Blind at Wilkinson Road.

In a brief ceremony after the inmates had been intimated about their visitors, the chairman, Mr. Kassim informed them that his organisation was there to register their love and sympathy to what he referred to as ‘our brothers and sisters who have been incapacitated by blindness’.

He stated that their main concern was to assist the needy and vulnerable in society by providing assistance to their immediate needs.

Responding, the Head Teacher of the shool, Mr. Campbell, welcomed the Volunteers and thanked them for their sincere and humanitarian initiative. He maintained that such initiative is what is expected of Sierra Leoneans at this point in time as they crave for peace.

“We only need to love one another irrespective of what you are, how you look or who you are. With those virtues, this country will be on its right path”, Mr Campbell stressed.

At the close of the brief ceremony, the volunteers in separate groups, engaged themselves in different activities which included hair dressing, medical check-ups and treatment of blind pupils.

In a snap interview, the chairman, Mr. Kassim, disclosed that the organisation has been in existence for sometime and that it is now a fully registered Non Governmental Organisation with the aim of alleviating the suffering of the poor and the needy in the society. He further stated that his organisation will be implementing activities aimed at bringing together the local communities and other local and international agencies in respect of their needs.

He appealed to individuals and other donor agencies to support his organisation. He disclosed that his orgasnisation has set up a trust fund which invites generous contributions from everybody or organisation.

18000 combatants disarmed

The Executive Secretary of the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration programme has said in Freetown that a total of eighteen thousand combatants has so far been disarmed.

Speaking on Saturday at the Bank of Sierra Leone complex during the launching ceremony of the Youth Reintegration Programme, Francis Kaikai said that the peace process is going on despite what he described as the tactical delays. Dr. Kaikai stated that the youth programme was designed to empower ex-combatants to live normal lives again. He therefore expressed the hope that the combatants still holding out in the bush will sieze the opportunity and once more become members of a civilised society. The Executive Secretary appealed to Non Governmental Organisations, Civil Society groups and religious bodies to divert their attention to the youths.

The Commissioner for the National Commission on Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Reintegration, Kanja Sesay, said that Youth Programmes should no longer be seen as employment facilities only. He said youths should be utilised for the peace and progress of the country.

Terry Leary of the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) stated that much work had been going on for months in the designing of the programme. She said that the United States government is happy to put in resources to provide tools for the education of the nation.

The programme was chaired by the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Joseph Melrose. The vote of thanks was given by Carlos Neuschwander of the World Vision Sierra Leone.

UK Ambassador to UN visits

The British Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has said in Freetown that the remaining five thousand UNAMSIL troops that are to serve in Sierra Leone will arrive in May.

Speaking to the press at the Port Loko South demobilisation centre this week, Sir Jeremy Greenstock who was here on a two-day visit said the troops are empowered to use force to make sure that they are protected and get access. He however pointed out that they cannot use force to compel people to change their attitude. He said it is important for the people of Sierra Leone to make their own choice as to whether they want peace or not, as the UN cannot rule their lives.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock who represents British support for Sierra Leone at the UN said that the 11,000 strong UNAMSIL will be the largest UN peace keeping force in the world. “ What happens here will be a model for the Democratic Republic of Congo. We must make sure it goes right, that’s why I am here,” Greenstock said.

Before visiting the centre, Sir Greenstock, who was accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the NCDDR, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai, the Deputy British High Commissioner, Steve Crossman, UNAMSIL and ECOMOG officials, witnessed the disarmament procedure of an RUF ex-combatant at Magbeni Lol, a short distance from the centre.

During the meeting at UNAMSIL headquarters in Port Loko, the team leader, Lt. Col. Paramvir Singh, informed the visitor about the problems encountered in running the camp.

He said that a total of 7,500 ex-combatants have so far been disarmed in Port Loko.

The Executive Secretary of the NCDDR, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai, explained the reintegration benefits that await ex-combatants after discharge.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock and party also visisted the kitchen at the centre and were given an insight into the registration procedure of ex-combatants.

Govt. Grounds Local Business
By Sayoh Kamara.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and State Enterprise has allegedly refused to renew the import licence of Kamtoko Africa Trade Links, a company owned by a Sierra Leonean, for the sale of Boss cigarettes.

The Ministry is reported to have received millions of leones from a Guinean businessman, Mr Mamadou Patteh Diallo, to attain the licence to import Boss brand cigarettes into Sierra Leone. Reports say this is now done under the smokescreen of another Guinean, Mr. Lamrana Sow, who is operating under the West cigarettes licence of Jagiko Enterprises. The licence of Kamtoko Trade links has since been denied renewal from January, this year.

“This is a blatant infringement of the monopoly right of Trade Mark of Kamtoko Africa Trade Links,” a businessman told this press. It has been rervealed that Kamtoko Africa Trade Links has the sole proprietorship of the Boss cigarette Trade Mark under the Trade Mark Act CAP 244 (formerly the Trade Mark Ordinance 1913) of the Republic of Sierra Leone. This came into existence from the date of application on 18th July, 1997, and renewable at the expiration of a fourteen-year period.

Investigations have revealed that due to the unpopularity of the varied West Cigarette brands in the country, Lamrana Sow in collaboration with a group of Fullah businessmen, all of Guinean origin, ganged up and invited this Diallo Guinean businessman to import the Boss cigarette into Sierra Leone, since he also maintains the monopoly on the Boss cigarettes trade mark in Guinea.

“Due to this derogatory development, we are witnessing an overflow of the various Boss cigarette brands in the country which I am sure is not from the direct importation of Jagiko. We are observing an intensification of smuggling in this respect”, observed a cigarette seller.

All efforts by this press to get in touch with the administrative and professional Heads at the Ministry of Trade & Industry proved futile. The different secretaries informed us that their bosses were busy on official matters to talk to our reporter. The Minister, Honourable Mike Lamin of the RUFP, who is also the political head at the ministry could not be reached upto press time.

However,a detailed study of Kamtoko Africa Trade Links operations have revealed that it has been satisfying all conditionalities as stipulated by the Ministry for the importation of foreign cigarettes. It has been paying all its dues correctly and on time. Further, the study showed that it has over fifty employees and hundreds more that were benefiting directly from its operations. Twenty-five students in various institutions of higher learning in the country were also under its sponsorship.

This latest development has sparked concern among many Sierra Leoneans. A senior administrator in the Finance Ministry has remarked, “Its only in this country that such a thing can happen. Tell me, which Sierra Leonean can ever dream of undertaking such a venture in Guinea? This is a mockery and an irony of the government’s policy aimed at upgrading the standard of living of the average Sierra Leonean. It is sending the wrong signal to the thousands of Sierra Leoneans abroad who are intending to invest back home."

One local business woman stated, “Citizens are not under protection. Once government officials are given ‘chicken changes’, they don’t mind selling the birth rights of their compatriots.” This is seen as a typical manifestation of government’s inability to protect indigenous businesses in spite of its repeated pronouncements of enhancing indigenous participation in business and the provision of an enabling environment for such undertakings.

Meanwhile, a group of kamajors who are quite unsettled due to this development have intimated this press that they will vandalise any consignment of Boss cigarettes seen in their areas of control. They further stated that come the 28th March when another consignment of Boss cigarettes is due, they will put up a big show of defiance against its entry into the country. They maintained that this will continue until the licence of ‘their brother’ is renewed.

APPYA lauds PDP leader

The All Political Parties Youth Association (APPYA) comprising youth representatives of the political parties in Sierra Leone on Friday last week called on the new People’s Democratic Party leader, Osman Kamara, to officially congratulate him on his success in their party’s last leadership election.

Speaking on behalf of APPYA, Victor Duba said that their association thought it necessary to pay tribute and congratulate the Hon. Osman Kamara for his victory and outstanding role he is playing in the politics of this country, adding that they had gone to reaffirm their support for the PDP leader.

Duba said that the PDP members had made a correct choice in choosing Hon. Osman Kamara as their leader, adding that they would have taken a wrong decision if they had chosen another person.

He called on Hon. Osman Kamara to take note of their role which is to complement the efforts of all political parties in the country.

Hon. Osman Kamara in his reply thanked members of APPYA for their timely arrival and the tributes paid to him, adding that their Association must always unite as they have a stake in the political life of the country.

The PDP leader told them that his party has suffered a lot of dirty politics especially after the death of their former leader, Thaimu Bangura, saying that some members who had defected to other parties are bent on separating the membership of the party.

He advised members of APPYA not to be daunting in their programmes and urged them to work together for the betterment of this nation.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Desmond Conteh introduced members of APPYA and the vote of thanks was given by the Association’s Project Coordinator, Abdul Koroma.

SIT DENOUNCES SLTU

The splinter group, Seek the Interest of Teachers (SIT) has in a press release denounced the proposed strike action of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union.

The release stated that the leadership and the entire membership of SIT saw the proposed action and the said notice as not only premature and tantamount to blackmail, but also a misrepresentation of the interest of the teachers of the country who, by all means, are themselves parents.

In view of that, the release maintained, the issues of the National Executive Committee which include a violation of the collective agreement stem from a long period of ineptitude, chicanery, complacency and arrogance on the part of the National Committee of the SLTU.

“Having examined these issues, the current security situation, the pending public examinations and the shortened term, SIT wishes to dissociate itself completely from such an action and would encourage colleagues of similar thinking to do likewise. We are convinced that a strike action, rather than alleviating the perennial problems of teachers, would only exacerbate them thereby affecting the smooth functioning of schools and the general welfare of teachers,” the release states.

SIT however urged government to address the plight of teachers expeditiously particularly the new teachers who have not received salaries since their appointments.

To the SLTU executive, SIT advised that, in their own interest, they should put aside their pride and confusion and take a sharp look at themselves with the aim of bringing back the much needed cohesiveness into its ranks, which the union largely lacks at the moment. The plight of the union should be honestly addressed as a first step rather than hiding behind a cloak, which SIT considers as a wicked and deliberate attempt to fool the teachers of this country again.

Finally, the release committed SIT as ready to pursue a vigorous campaign to boycott the said strike and its preparedness to effectively counter whatever action the National Executive Committee of SLTU may resort to.

END.

MARCH 13TH 2000
SANKOH ACCEPTS PARLIAMENT'S INVITATION!

Chairman Foday Sankoh of the Revolutionary United Front Party has finally agreed to appear before Parliament.

He disclosed his change of mind in a telephone interview with this press yesterday. Sankoh said he decided to back down on his defiant stance after holding consultative talks with his supporters, advisers, party executive and some prominent people, both local and foreign including the British Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short.

He added that he had no intention to defy Parliament but what is paramount to him, and what Parliamentarians should be discussing at this moment is how to get relief food to the people in the north and east of the country.

According to Sankoh, the argument earlier put forward by government that NGOs should not supply relief items to parts that are not accessible to UNAMSIL no longer holds.

“UNAMSIL have deployed in Makeni and Magburaka for almost two months now. Why have those people not received any food?” Sankoh queried.

A Member of Parliament, Honourable Joe Conteh of the opposition UNPP, in a telephone conversation with this press, said, "It is good Sankoh has agreed to appear before Parliament. Anybody aspiring to become a leader must have respect for the State's Institutions especially the Parliament.”

However, the date for Sankoh’s appearance before Parliament is yet unknown but our parliamentary sources confirmed that the date will be decided when Parliament meets tomorrow, Tuesday March 14th.

EXPO TIMES TO HIT THE INTERNET!

Expo Times Managing Editor, Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (alias Tech!) will soon be publishing his world class newspaper online. This will be done after the launching of the website on Wednesday March 15th 2000.

The URL for The Expo Times is www.expotimes.net.

Meanwhile, the Pool Online now has an easier to remember URL.

It is www.sierra-leone.pool.org.

Although the URL is similar to Peter Andersen's URL, there is no connection between the two sites.

The Pool has also re-arranged our Online sections. Our popular satire column, "Public Eye" now has its' own section as do the sports pages.

There are also lots more news reports to be found on our "MORE NEWS" section.

The Editorials and Features are still intact. You can read today's editorials such as the one on Sankoh and Parliament and the one about The Rat on our Editorials Page. You may read the continuation of the popular Agony of a Collaboration by Augustus Mye-Kamara on the Features Page.

All the links to these different columns are found on the upper left of the page.

The Pool will also soon be publishing the pictures of ALL staff members on our Biography Page.

"The Pool staffers have nothing to hide so we will not hide our faces behind masks. We are proud of what we are and we are proud of what we stand for." stated Musu Kamara, one of our staff members on hearing that the SLPP's Lans Gberie had embarked on a vicious campaign to discredit The Pool.

The Pool will also be opening a Letters Page this week for the publication of reader's letters.

Clare Short visits Sierra Leone

The British Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short, visited Sierra Leone on Thursday, March 9 to assess the progress of the Lome Peace Agreement signed on July 7 last year between the government of President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the Revolutionary United Front of Foday Sankoh.

On arrival in Sierra Leone, Madam Short’s first point of call was Masiaka town, 50 kilometres from Freetown where she was received by the Acting Paramount Chief of Koya Chiefdom, Pa Alimamy Ojuku Sesay and other chiefdom authorities.

Madam Short praised the enthusiam of the people for braving to return to their devastated town and for engaging in farming so as to rebuild their lives.

Accompanied by the outgoing British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Peter Penfold and the United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations, Short assured the people of Britain’s determination to sustain peace and democracy in Sierra Leone and to help the people restart their lives.

Masiaka town is the linking point to all parts of Sierra Leone. This once boisterous town was massacred by rebels and ECOMOG troops in their fight to gain control of the strategic town. Ninety-eight percent of the 400 houses were either completely burnt down by rebels or demolished by the ECOMOG war jets.

The people have started rebuilding their houses with mud while the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) provide corrugated iron sheets, nails and cement. Claire Short’s visit was the second in as many months, the first being in July 1999 when she became the first international personality to visit Sierra Leone after the restoration of the democratically elected government of Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

end

Refugees hopes dashed in Guinea

The seven paramount chiefs sent to the Republic of Guinea by the government to meet Sierra Leonean refugees have returned home.

One of the chiefs said the displaced at the Forekaria camp are not so malnourished since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is doing all it could to provide them with the necessary assitance.

However, the refugees felt disappointed because the chiefs did not take anything to them as way of alleviating their suffering. Rather they only took with them empty words.

Most of the refugees in this camp are said to be engaged in various mining activities in Guinea, according to the chief, in order to make ends meet.

“You can hardly find any refugee in the camp during the day. They go in different places to mine”. They are ready to come home, according to the chief, after the completion of the disarmament process.

MP in double standards over NGO cash

By Sayoh Kamara

The funds and properties of a local NGO, the Sierra Leone- Gullah Kinship Association (SL-GKA) are being fiddled with as a consequence of the alleged double standards of Honourable Dr. A.Y.S. Kamara.

According to the president of the NGO, Mr. Mohamed Kamara, they were sponsored Le68 million between 1995 and 1996 for the popular education programme of Bunce Island, with Mr Joseph Opala as the historical adviser to the project.

Barely a year after this project was launched, one hundred Black Americans were expected to visit the island as tourists.

With this development, the president explained, Mr. Opala, with the connivance of the then Director of Tourism, Mr. Sandy Kawa, the General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Mr. Cecil Williams, aided and abetted by the National Authorising Office (NAO), stated that the programme be no longer continued under the auspices of the organisations’s executive. He insisted that elections be held.

The letter giving that order came through the NAO on 20th September 1996. (Ref. No NAO.1027).

The executive of SL-GKA refused to adhere to the terms of the letter stating that the NAO did not have the right to interfere in their operations as they were only signatories to the finance agreement of 15th October, 1995, Mr. Kamara explained. As such they were issued with a termination letter dated 13th July, 1998 for alleged insubordination.

Mr. Mohamed Kamara stated that the letter was petitioned as an act of sabotage and an unlawful termination to the Parliamentary Committee on Tourism and Economic Development with late Hon. S.K. Dugba as chairman. He was not however able to conduct any sitting.

What is worrying the SL-GKA executive and many Sierra Leoneans is the lethargy and contempt with which Hon. Dr. A.Y.S. Kamara who succeeded late Dugba as chairman of the committee is handling the matter. On its first sitting on 10th November, 1999, the NAO was found wanting on all allegations and charges levied againt it.

As such the committee in a letter to NAO on 15th November, 1999 recommended among other things, the reactivation of the Bunce Island Project with SL-GKA, the reopening of the NGO’s office and the return of all its properties impounded by NAO.

However, in a rather surprised development, the NAO responded to the committee’s letter on 22nd November 1999, suggesting for a convening of another meeting to facilitate the participation of the Ministry of Tourism and the National Tourist Board in the deliberations.

This is disputed by the executive of the SL-GKA who claims that those two parties are not signatories to the Finace Agreement. Therefore, according to Mr. Kamara, their participation in the talks contrevenes the terms of the contract.

There are growing suspicions that the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, Hon. Dr. A.Y.S. Kamara, is leaning on the side of the NAO and their cohorts to frustrate the noble efforts of these Sierra Leoneans. He has been petitioned to the Supervisor of Parliamentary committees, Hon. Tarasid Tarawally.

Dr. A.Y.S. Kamara in a bid to discredit the SL-GKA tried to manipulate one of the NGO’s patron (name withheld). Now Dr. Kamara is arguing without any iota of proof that the SL-GKA executive have embezzled the project funds.

Police, Magistrate Connive to kill!

The Lungi Police personnel and Magistrate Carew of the Lungi Magistrate court have been acused of conniving to kill a young lady, Yeabu Sesay, and her one-year old son.

The said Yeabu Sesay, according to our investigations, together with her one year old baby, was sentenced last week by Magistrate Carew to two years imprisonment for fraud without an alternative of a fine. Yeabu is presently detained in a nasty cell at the Lungi police station awaiting to be transfered to the Port Loko prisons with her baby.

Our investigations revealed that one Inspector Kamara and CPO Conteh, all attached to the Lungi Police station, after collecting bribes from the complainant, Kadiatu Kargbo, volunteered to prosecute the said fraud matter without calling any witness, and the complainant appeared only twice throughout the duration of the trial, which lasted for almost a year. Magistrate Carew is said to have an affair with a relative of the complainant and swore to sentence the poor lady without fine even when there was no evidence to implicate the accused. Carew, it is alleged, slammed the sentence in order to appease his sister-in-law.

Reports intimated this press that when the Court clerk advised Magistrate Carew to alternate the sentence with a fine, Carew suspended the court clerk for one week for interfering with “matters within his jurisdiction”.

Our sources further revealed that immediately Magistrate Carew had passed the sentence, he paid a visit to the residence of his ‘relative’s’ brother at Kissy Ferry junction and boasted that he had sentenced the lady without a fine.

According to our investigations, Kadiatu Kargbo who is residing at Lungi, reported the nursing mother, Yeabu Sesay, for having collected her goods, bags of oranges and foo-foo, totalling Le200,000.00 (two hundred thousand leones). The complainant said after Yeabu had collected the said items, she disappeared but was later captured in Freetown.Yeabu however denied the allegations and told the Magistrate that, though she was innocent, she was ready to pay the money and go in search of a medicine man to swear.

The magistrate could not listen to the plea of Yeabu and went ahead to sentence her and the baby to two years imprisonment. “This is gross injustice and total disregard of human rights. How can a magistrate sentence a nursing mother without an alternative?” an observer in the court remarked.

The husband of Yeabu disclosed that he had to bail Yeabu ten times at both the police station and the court during the trial.

Girl, 15, dying

Mariatu Fornah a 15 year-old JSS II pupil of the Municipal Secondary School is seriously sick and admitted at the ‘one palour’ ward of the Princess Christian Memorial hospital.

Mariatu fell sick some three weeks ago at their home at Kuntorlor, Kissy. According to her mother, she complained of severe headache and was treated with a dose of panadol. By morning Mariatu could not speak any longer as her body temperature went above normal and was said to have also developed an epileptic condition. She was rushed to hospital that evening. Later it was also found out that Mariatu’s head has some deep lacerations, a condition which has raised some doubts in her parents. They say Mariatu has never complained of any serious sickness.

The Red Cross Society has been giving a helping hand to Mariatu and her parents at the hospital. They were responsible for the bandaging of her sore head.

Mariatu feeds through a pipe affixed to her nose. She has not been able to speak since. The parents say doctor ‘Old Pa’ Koroma is in charge. But they are currently facing serious financial constraints to meet their up-keep as well medical costs. They are in dire need of help.

It is in light of this that this paper is launching a passionate appeal on behalf of poor Mariatu and her parents for contributions to help save this dying girl-child. This is an appeal to all kind-hearted Sierra Leoneans, NGOs, local and international, the government, professional bodies and civic organisations to contribute towards the bring-to-life campaign for Mariatu. Nothing is too small for this purpose.

You can contact Dr. Koroma or the mother of Mariatu at the ‘one palour’ ward, just after the cost recovery drugs building.

Your one thousand leones can help Mariatu regain her health and make her own contribution towards the building of Sierra Leone.

ERNEST KOROMA TO CLINCH APC TICKET!
FRIDAY MARCH 10TH

Mr. Ernest Koroma, the Managing Director of Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation (RITCORP) is rumoured as the next flag-bearer of the All People’s Congress party come next elections.

Mr. Koroma himself could not confirm the rumour in a snap interview he gave to this press. His only comment was that the present situation in the country is not conducive enough for politicking. Rather, he said, Sierra Leoneans must put hands on deck for total peace in the country.

“The people are really suffering. They are living in appaling conditions. I think the first task is for the people to feel free to move around without fear. I therefore call on all the stakeholders including the government, the RUF, AFRC and the CDF to give the people of Sierra Leone total peace by being sincere to the Lome Peace Agreement,” Koroma reiterated.

However, though Koroma is yet to confirm his interest in the APC leaderhsip, top APC stalwarts contacted by this press intimated that Koroma is looked upon as a potential candidate since he stands proud as one of the few Sierra Leoneans with untainted character as he has never involved in dirty politics.

Family members intimated this press that if Koroma is really interested in politics, he must not join any party other than the APC.

The All People’s Congress party ruled Sierra Leone for more that two decades. Political pundits say the APC era was characterised by corruption, mismanagement and intrigue. Under the leadership of the late Siaka Probyn Stevens, the country’s economy took a nosedive, and life became somewhat unbearable for the average Sierra Leonean.

Siaka Stevens’ successor, Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh, was overthrown by the National Provisional Revolutionary Council headed by Captain Valentine Strasser. The NPRC junta ruled Sierra Leone for four years and later held elections which were won by the Sierra Leone People’s Party, led by Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Multi Million dollar hospital opens

His Excellency President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah this week officially opened the multi-million dollars T-CHOITHRAM MEMORIAL HOSPITAL situated at Hill Station in Freetown.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, the chairman of the T-Choithram Charity Trust, A. S.C. Johnson informed guests that the funds for the construction of the Memorial hospital were provided by the CHOITHRAM Charity Fund. He said the fund has been utilised in many humanitarian projects including the construction of churches, hospitals, and assisting refugees.

The chairman of the ceremony, Dr. Sheku Tejan Kamra, Director General of Medical Services, said the presence of the Head of State was a clear manifestation of the keen interest of the government in the well-being of the people of Sierra Leone.

He added that decades of bad governance had led to the devastation of the entire infrastructure in the country including health facilities.

Dr. S. T. Kamara intimated guests that the hospital is the joint effort of both T-Choithram and the government. The latter, he added, provided the worn-out structures and land while T-Choithram undertook the rehabilitation exercise of the entire infrastructure, adding new buildings and providing modern equipment.

Dr. Kamara said the agreement was signed in 1994 and the construction began immediately. It was completed within two years but due to the political instability in the country, the hospital could not open.

In an optimistic mood, the Director General said very soon the country would start treating patients from other countries due to the ultra-modern facilities available in the hospital.

HOSPITAL FACILITIES. Explaining to the guests the facilities available in the hospital, Dr. L. Gordon-Harris, the Project Consultant gave a brief background of the construction exercise.

He said the feasibility study, brief and architectural design for the hospital started in 1993 and was completed in April 1994. Construction started on January 13, 1995. All the consultants for the project are Sierra Leoneans.

Architects: Jenkins-Johnson, Mason and Associates,
Quantity Surveyor: Prince Ron Green and Associates,
Structural Engineers: Frederick Jones and Partners,
Mechanical and Electrical engineers: Harstec Associates
and
Builders: Sierra Construction Systems Ltd.

The hospital, according to Dr. Gordon-Harris, was designed to be constructed in three phases. The first phase was scheduled to have been opened on the 12th September 1997, the last meeting was adjourned to May 25, 1997, the day president Kabba’s government was overthrown.

Dr. Gordon-Harris disclosed that since most of the large pieces of equipment were already installed, it is pleasing to note that a joint project with UNAMSIL has expedited the opening of the first phase so that these pieces of equipment could be put into use to avoid further deterioration.

The hospital, according to Dr. Gordon-Harris, is a purely referral hospital and not a walk-in general hospital or out patient department.

The areas covered in the first phase are: Medicine, General and Orthopedic Surgery, Ophthalmology, Dentistry, ENT, Radiology, Laboratory and Pharmacy.

There are two theatre suites, an intensive care unit with six beds, central sterilization unit, laundry, kitchen, maintenance unit.

There are three synchronized generators of 125, 250 and another 250kv, giving a total capacity of over 600kv with automatic change over.

There is enough water storage capacity as the two huge water tanks over the maintenance unit and storage area testify. It is hoped that Renal Dialysis will be added to this phase in the not too distant future.

The hospital board and a panel of about 20 referring physicians will liase and work alongside the UNAMSIL team. He disclosed that whilst the UNAMSIL team will concentrate mostly on their personnel, the panel of referring physicials will be treating Sierra Leoneans. In an assuring tone, Dr. Gordon-Harris said once the teething problems are overcome, some of those personnel already interviewed and accepted will gradually be absorbed.

Ambassador Adeniji In his remarks, the UN Special Representative, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji said he was gratified that UNAMSIL has been able to play a catalyctic role in the refurbishing of the hospital.

He was happy that level three medical facilities have been made available for personnel of the peace keeping forces throughout their duration in the UN mission in Sierra Leone.

He admonished guests that UNAMSIL is not only concentrating in peacekeeping but also peace seeking which includes making available its medical personnel and medical facilities to the people they serve.

He assured that UNAMSIL will take optimum care to upkeep the hospital facilities. He said UNAMSIL will handover the hospital at the end of its mission in Sierra Leone.

Ken Azad The Indian Consul in Sierra Leone, Mr. Ken Azad who is the brain behind the construction of the hospital, said the turning of the rod was done on 31st March 1994 and the project was completed within the record time of two and a half years.

He said the idea for the construciton of the modern hospital in Freetown was conceived by the late T-Choithram Pagarani, the motive of which is not profit making. Mr. Azad said what is amazing is that all the architects and staff are Sierra Leoneans.

On behalf of the T-Choithram family and members of the Trust Fund, Azad expressed thanks to all those, including the president, who made the project successful.

President Kabbah, before declaring the hospital open, said he had known the Choithram family for quite a long time and is familiar with some of the good works of Pagarani.

He said Mr. Pagarani created a business empire in Sierra Leone, creating employment for many Sierra Leoneans. He set up a trust fund and provide scholarships to helpless and underpriviledged Sierra Leoneans. “He was a true patriot,” the president said.

In a sad memory, president Kabbah said the foreigners who had volunteered to work in the hospital were forced out of the country by the events of the January 6, 1999 invasion of the city and those workers will not come again.

Other dignitarians present at the opening cermeony included Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic and consular corps.

"WHEN I SAY NO, I MEAN NO!" - Sankoh.

“When I say No, I mean No” - Sankoh fires back at Parliament.

The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Justice S.M.F. Kutubu on Monday, March 6, 2000 wrote another letter inviting Chairman Foday Sankoh to appear before the House for the second time.

Reacting to the second invitation, Sankoh, in a telephone interview yesterday with this press said, “When I say no, I mean no. I have told them in my first letter that I am not going there and I stand by my words”.

When questioned about the action Parliament intend to take by charging him with contempt which might see him locked up again in prison, Sankoh simply put it,

“I am not worried by that. I have stood trial in 1971, another in 1998. So let them not frighten me with trial. These so-called Parliamentarians are hypocrites. They were the very people who were telling president Kabbah not to talk to anybody, not to talk to the RUF, not to negotiate. So why are they inviting me now in Parliament? I am not ready to go to any Parliament now. My primary concern is how to go about disarming my combatants and give the people total peace. If the so-called Parliamentarians are interested in peace, let them contribute money to help in the disarmament process. When the Citizens Trust Fund on the disarmament was recently launched, how many of the Parliamentarians have contributed to it? Tell me, how many of them? I am warning them not to provoke me. That is why I don’t go to anybody. So let them not provoke me. I am not a Parliamentarian. The Lome Peace Agreement brought me here and that’s my guiding principle,” Sankoh concluded.

Chairman Foday Sankoh was last week invited to Parliament to answer some questions regarding the slow progress of the diarmament process, and the continued misbehaviour of his fighters. He however did not honour the invitation, saying that the provisions of the July 7, 1999 Lome Peace Agreement gave him the status of Vice President.

Chairman Sankoh also claimed that he is answerable only to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Sankoh’s rebuff raised a lot of hue and cry in Parliament, with some MPs describing the former rebel leader as stubborn and recalcitrant.

A motion was moved that another letter explaining the implications of his refusal to appear before the House, and the relevant provisions in the constitution be sent to him.

Irate MPs opined that if Foday Sankoh fails to appear this time, he should be charged with contempt of Parliament.

PDP Divorces SLPP!

People’s Democratic Party leader, Osman Kamara, Friday last week told a well attended party gathering that the party’s alliance with the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party government was over.
Speaking at the party’s Adelaide Street headquarters after he had been sworn in as the new leader, Honourable Osman Kamara said he would unite the party and uphold its constitution, adding that he would work with every single member of the party.
Honourable Kamara told his audience that the party had gone through turbulent times especially after the death of its leader, Thaimu Bangura. The new party leader commended members for their steadfastness and called for their continued cooperation at all times. He described the People’s Democratic Party as an all-embracing political organisation which aims at uplifting the lives of the ordinary people.
Honourable Osman Kamara dismissed as false allegations that the party is Themne and northern-oriented. “The acting party leader, Dr. S.S. Magona is a Mende. We have a wide selection of all the tribes, and our party has members in every party of the country,” the new party leader explained.
Honourable Osman Kamara stated that his party’s collaboration with the ruling SLPP was now over. “My party will only work with the government to consolidate the present peace process,” Kamara affirmed. He said the PDP as a government in waiting was ready to fight corruption and poverty which, according to him, are the major causes of the country’s underdevelopment.
Earlier, the outgone leader, Dr. S.S. Magona, said that they as party members had gathered there to swear-in their new leader. He expressed the hope that the event would usher in new rays of hope for the success of the party in the next general elections. The Chairman of the party also made contributions and urged party members to cooperate with the new leadership.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is the third largest party in the country. During the second round of the 1996 general and presidential elections, it entered into an alliance with the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party, thus enhancing the latter’s success in the elections. However, problems arose between the two parties following President Kabbah’s decision to sack all the PDP cabinet ministers, the last one being Haja Hafsatu Kabba, then Minister of Lands. ---end---

Major Milton, 47 others arrive from Liberia

The former Defence Spokesman of the AFRC military junta, Major John Milton and 47 soldiers who ran away to Liberia when the junta was overthrown in 1998 returned home last Saturday, March 4, on board the ‘MADAM MONIQUE’ boat.

They were received on arrival at the Government wharf by officials from the Defence headquarters, and reports stated that they would be encamped at Waterloo. The repatriation of the run-away soldiers was facilitated by the government of Sierra Leone.

Major John Milton took over as head of the Defence Information Unit when the then head, late Colonel Abdul Karim Sesay, was appointed Secretary General of the AFRC military junta led by Lt. Col., now Chairman Johnny Paul Koroma. Colonel Abdul Karim Sesay was among the 24 soldiers executed by the Kabbah government on october 19, 1998.

Reports from Liberia intimated that there are more soldiers waiting to be repatriated to Freetown. They are now benefitting from the general amnesty granted to all soldiers and civilians who served under the military junta by the Lome Peace Agrreement signed on July 7, 1999. This Agreement apparently brought to an end nine years of a ruthless war which saw thousands of people maimed, killed, amputated and abducted.

Sankoh says NO to Parliament

Chairman Foday Sankoh will not attend Parliament today to honour an invitation extended to him by the Speaker of the House.

According to a letter dated March 3, signed by Chairman Sankoh and addressed to the Speaker, the Right Honourable, Mr. Justice S.M.F Kutubu, Sankoh gave the following reasons for not honouring the invitation:

1. Article V, No. 2 of the Lome Peace Agreement clearly states, “The chairmanship of the Board of the Commission for the Management of strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development (CMRRD) as provided for in Article VII of the present Agreement shall be offered to the leader of the RUF/SL, Corporal Foday Sankoh. For this purpose he shall enjoy the status of Vice president and shall therefore be answerable only to the president of Sierra Leone. 2. I am not a Member of Parliament, so I therefore see no need to sit in on a meeting of Parliament. 3. My duties as leader of the Revolutionary United Front Party (of which disarming the combatants is a major factor) prevents me at this time from attending any more discussions on the DDR and the Sierra Leone peace process. 4. The Revolutionary United Front Party believes that there has been enough time wasted on words. Constructive and positive action is what the people of Sierra Leone need at this time, and the RUFP remains committed to the spirit and letter of the Lome peace Agreement.

The said letter was copied to president Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (CCP), Johnny Paul Koroma, appeared before Parliament to throw light on why his forces are slow in disarming.

Chairman Foday Saybana Sankoh is the leader of the rebel Revolutionary United Front which led a civil war that ended on July 7, 1999, following a peace agreement signed between him and President Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in Lome, Togo. The Lome Peace Agreement granted amnesty to all rebels, including members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council junta.

Recently, Chairman Sankoh travelled to Ivory Coast and South Africa, a development that brought a lot of uproar both within and outside the country. The United Nations Peace Keeping Forces known as UNAMSIL issued a press statement stating that Chairman Sankoh’s trip abroad was in contravention of a United Nations travel ban on all junta leaders.

Ambassador Adeniji hopes on March 20

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, has expressed great satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting on Sierra Leone in Bamako, Oumar Konare of Mali which took place last week.

The meeting, attended by representatives of the Government of Sierra Leone, the RUFP, the UN, the OAU, as well as the Chairman of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace, and the Executive Secretarty of ECOWAS, concentrated on ways of removing difficulties which are being encountered in the implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement.

Specifically, the meeting focused on the hindrance of the deployment of UNAMSIL trroops, which is fundamental to accelerating the implementation of various aspects of the peace agreement, such as the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration programme, the extension of state administration all over the country, and access to humanitarian operates.

The Special Representative was particularly gratified by the very frank discussions, which are embodied in the communique of the meeting. The clarification by the ECOWAS Executive Secretary of the misinterpretation of the Lome Peace Agreement as it concerns the creation and mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force was particularly helpful, since that misinterpretation was seen by the meeting as being at the centre of most of the problems impeding the implementation of the agreement.

Following that clarification, the agreement of all participants in the meeting for the immediate removal by the RUF of obstacles to the deployment of UNAMSIL; the immediate return of the large quantities of weapons seized from the Guinean troops as well as those seized from the Kenyan troops; and the simultaneous removal of all roadblocks throughout the country by all combatants will immediately un-block the present impasse.

The Special Representative looked forward to the immediate commencement of the implementation of these decisions so that the verification meeting to be held on 20 March 2000 could be a success. --END.

Brigadier 5-5 released

Sergeant Santigie Kanu, alias Brigadier 5-5, has been released from detention over the weekend. His release, according to sources, came as a result of appeals made on his behalf by chairman Johnny Paul Koroma and other colleagues to the relevant authorities. Reports stated that 5-5 has been strictly warned to behave in accordance with the code of ethics governing a military man. He was arrested almost three weeks ago by ECOMOG officers for behaving contrary to military discipline by threatening armless civilians. ----END.

Parliament divided over State Proceedings Act (2000)

Parliament on Tuesday 29th February was divided over a bill entitled, The State Proceedings Act 2000 presented by SLPP Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Aiah Abu Koroma, representing the Attorney General who is presently out of the country on state matters. The bill which is the first in the history of successive governments gives the right to citizens of this country to seek redress within six months whenever one is aggrieved by any government agent who might breach their constitutional rights in any event. Presenting the bill, Hon. Koroma said that the bill was not intended to contravene section 133, subsection 1 of the 1991 constitution which states that citizens may have the right to bring an action to the court against the government. Contributing, Hon. Osman Kamara, leader of the PDP and Hon. Dr. Raymond Kamara of the UNPP described the bill as obnoxious stating that it was bad for an aggreived citizen to wait for six months before he can take government to court for redress. The House was divided over this issue and it agreed to refer the bill to the Parliamentary legislative committee for necessary changes. ---end

PARLIAMENT CONGRATULATES OSMAN KAMARA

PARLIAMENT has formally congratulated the new PDP leader, Hon. Osman Kamara, for his success in the last party leadership election which he won by 20 votes ahead of his rival, Hon Ibrahim Sorie, who scored 19 votes. The elections were held last weekend at the National Stadium.

Exclusive Interview with Foday Sankoh.

Exclusive interview with Chairman Foday Saybana Sankoh

Following the recent uproar surrounding his trip to
South Africa and Ivory Coast, the Pool Investigative
team led by Managing Editor, Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
assisted by able lieutenants including Editor, Osman
F. Koroma, Political Editor, Augustus Mye-Kamara,
Sports Editor, Sorie Ibrahim Sesay and Photo
Journalist, Abu Whyte Fofanah, had an exclusive
interview with Chairman Foday Sankoh last Wednesday at
his Spur Road residence. Sankoh threw light on
pertinent issues relating to his relationship with
UNAMSIL, the disarmament process and his vision for
Sierra Leone.
The reader has a choice. Please read the full
interview.
The Pool (TP): What was your feeling about the uproar
which your trip abroad caused?
Foday Sankoh (FS): Thank you very much. First of all,
I consider it as both an internal and external
conspiracy to discredit the leadership of the RUF,
which I think some politicians are responsible. This
is no allegation; it is a conspiracy. President
Kabbah thinks that he can use his international
influence to destroy my image. But I am not really
worried. I know all they were saying was just
fabrication.
TP: Which countries did you visit?
FS: The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa.
In fact, I did not go there on a visit. I went see my
physician in Cote d’Ivoire who directed me to South
Africa. And I received my medical treatment. Now
listen, the South Africans have far more advanced
medical facilities. They can do all types of tests
just as in Europe. So South Africa is advanced. No
need for me to go to Paris, I denied. I was given an
alternative and I had to choose South Africa.
TP: What you are saying is that your physician advised
you to go to South Africa.
FS: Of course, yes.
TP: There were allegations that you went to South
Africa to sell diamonds.
FS: It is all nonsense. I know they are trying to
destroy my image. I am totally against corruption.
If you could remember during my last press conference,
I made it known to you [journalists] that there were
very influential people, including top cabinet
ministers that are involved in mining our diamonds,
together with some Lebanese in Bo and Kenema. So
therefore, they are trying to revenge by making these
wild allegations just to destroy the RUF. Why should
I be so callous as to take diamonds out of Sierra
Leone for sale in South Africa?
TP: Do you have any relationship, business or
otherwise, with one Morie Kabbah?
FS: He is my brother. All Sierra Leoneans in this
country are my brothers and sisters. I am not a
businessman. I am a politician. I will never deny
him. He has been visiting me. He is interested in
the RUF ideology. Why should I not talk to him?
TP: There were allegations from various quarters,
especially the press, that this Morie Kabbah
facilitated your trip to South Africa to transact the
diamond business.
FS: Not for business. I am not a businessman. I don’t
deal in diamonds. I am the Chairman for the Strategic
Minerals Commission. People from all over the globe
can meet me, and I need their help to see how best we
can build this country. What they are saying is utter
nonsense. No wonder they are trying to sabotage the
commission.S
TP: Was it true that you were deported from South
Africa?
FS: No, man, no. I spent almost a week in South
Africa. In fact I was received by a top government
official. I was given a visa in La Cote d’Ivoire by
the South African embassy in Abidjan. Nobody deported
me. I travelled with the Ivorian Foreign Minister who
was returning from, I think, Alegria. We met at the
airport and all of us travelled to Abidjan.
TP: From South Africa, what was your next port of
call? Where did you go next?
FS: Cote d’Ivoire, Abidjan. I was there waiting for
Ghana Airways.
TP: Speculations are rife that you ordered your men to
continue mining precious minerals in spite of your ban
on ilicit mining.
FS: This is again absolute nonsense. Sankoh is
against corruption. Why should I order my men to
mine. Why should I join the corrupt politicians in
raping this country? Mind you, if I want to get rich,
I will not go into the bush to fight war to liberate
this country. The onus lies on them to prove that my
men are engaged in mining. I am telling you that this
is rather a political and psychological warfare just
to kill the RUF. While they were mining in Bo, Kenema
and Tongo, I ordered that it be stopped. But they are
still refusing to obey that order. Travel through the
Bo - Kenema highway and see people mining there.
TP: What is the relationship between you and UNAMSIL?
FS: My dear brothers, as far as our [RUF] position is
concerned, we are here for peace. So, we are ready to
work with whosoever is ready to bring peace to Sierra
Leone. But they should realise that we are governed
by the Lome Peace Agreement. I don’t want to know how
they came as a peace keeping force. The Lome peace
accord talks about transforming the ECOMOG
intervention force into a peace keeping force. This
was agreed on the 6th July before signing the accord
on the 7th. But because our people need peace in this
country, we can move with anybody. This is not a case
of relationship. I do not believe in sentiments. I
want somebody who can work to bring peace to this
country.
TP: From the press releases issued by UNAMSIL, it
seems as if the snail’s pace of the disarmament
process is as a direct result of your non-compliance.
FS: Don’t mind them. They are used by the SLPP
politicians who want everything to their advantage.
All the parties should disarm - all militias, be it
RUF,CDF,or the former SLAs who were with us in the
bush. Now, they are nursing the SLAs to fight the
RUF. If that is so, then they are here to destroy the
peace accord. Why should they pay monthly salaries to
the ex-SLAs? Now the UNAMSIL people are saying if
necessary, they will use force. Use force on who? We
are ready to disarm, we have been disarming. Nobody
should dictate to us or force us. The language of
force is unacceptable to the RUF. We will never
accept that.
TP: Well, this is exactly our next question. There
are suggestions in many quarters that UNAMSIL should
use force to deploy, if necessary.
FS: Then it is another war. We are not going to fight
but we will defend ourselves. For the sake of the
people, we will never encourage anybody to use force
in this country nor will we allow somebody to provoke
us to start it. We are not here for war. There is no
more war in this country. We are for peace because we
believe in democracy. That is why we are now a
political party. It is no more war but a political
struggle now. UNAMSIL should not interfere in the
political struggle of the country. They are here to
keep the peace. We expect them to be neutral. The
language of force is out of vogue. Let them forget
about it. Using force if necessary - what does that
mean?
TP: There were allegations of a shoot-out between the
RUF and UNAMSIL peace keepers at Pepel. Are you aware
of that?
FS: (laughs) It is all false; it is a lie. If there
is single gun shot in this country again, believe me
they will never see the day. There was no fighting
there. They [UNAMSIL] are just trying to cause
problems by provoking the RUF personnel. Believe you
me, the RUF are no more combatants; they are political
cadres who do not believe in fighting again. So, they
are lying.
TP: They are also saying that your men are creating
road blocks thereby preventing them from deploying in
certain parts of the country.
FS: They have to do the right thing. They have to
respect the High command and leadership of the RUF. We
are not controlling any place. My men have already
disarmed. It is just a matter of their commanders
handing over their guns. What we are saying is that,
let us live in peace because of our people. But it
seems as if they are singing a different tune. Because
of one man? There is no more arms struggle. It is a
political struggle. They know that things are going on
the side of the RUF. There is a swing in the political
struggle. So the only people the SLPP government can
use are the United Nations Peace keeping forces. In
fact they are saying that ECOMOG should leave before
the next general elections.Why should that happen? We
are too sensitive. It does not mean that when they
take the arms from us, they should marginalise us. No.
They are harassing and intimidating our supporters.
They are even marginalising RUF ministers and deputy
ministers. There are also rumours of plans to kidnap
top RUF members. Now let me tell you this: There is a
ploy to arrest me if I refuse to comply with UNAMSIL.
But they have to be very careful. I always get
everything they discuss at State House or in Kabbah’s
lodge.
TP: This brings us to the next question. Your men are
alleging that there are mischievous plans to arrest
you and some RUF top brass. What about that?
FS: Actually that suggestion was made and the planning
is still going on. Fortunately, the RUF leadership is
well informed of every move they make. When I was in
South Africa, people called me from the United States
and Britain, telling me of the plan to arrest me.
They even suggested that I do not return again. But I
say no to them because some would interprete it to
mean I ran away from Sierra Leone.
TP: But in case, say, tomorrow morning you are
arrested?
FS: Arrested? Let them try it. Anyway, my political
cadres will answer that question.
TP: By the way sir, why is it that your party has
still not been issued with a final registration
certificate?
FS: Well, there are rules and regulations governing
that. They say I must have an office in the centre of
town. I sent a proposal to the INEC telling them that
I do have a house but it is not in the centre. But
they did not agree to that. The problem now is that
politicians are sabotaging every move we make to
acquire an office. The other day, we paid for an
office right in the heart of the city only to
experience some problems. It is definite that we are
going to get an office. I believe in the terms of the
peace accord. They are joking.
TP: Some politicians are suggesting that disarmament
takes precedence over elections. Do you agree with
their view?
FS: My dear brother, we are ready to disarm today to
make way for the elections. Look, we are not
answerable to any politician or what have you . The
peace accord is our Bible.
TP: How strong is your party nationwide?
FS: (Laughs) Hundred percent, plus, plus.
TP: There has been a lot of noise about your departure
culminating in your not informing the leadership of
this country and obtaining authorization from
UNAMSIL. Any comment?
FS: God and Sheik Nabay are my witnesses. Before my
departure, I informed President Kabbah well ahead of
time, two months, to be precise. He said he had no
problem with that. But the problem there now is
honesty and sincerity. We met and discussed my trip
and he said I should talk to the United Nations. I
told him that I had no business with the UN. He is my
executive President and I am answerable to him. I
believe he had the power to do everything possible to
facilitate my travel. So, talking to the Special
Representative, to me, meant subduing my status as
Vice President. Again, it means the diplomatic
passport I am carrying is just a farce. However, I
spoke at length with the UN man here when he visited
me, and I believe we thrashed out that issue. I also
informed ECOMOG though the Commander was not here by
then. But Buhari Musa was aware of that. I got a
police clearance, though it was a humiliation on my
part. My Commander and political cadres are harassed
on a daily basis. How do you think my men will act?
So you see, we have to be very careful in this country
not to derail the peace process. Do not provoke us as
we will never yield to that. Our people need peace in
this country. I am back in Freetown; I will never run
away, and of course we will not go into the bush
again. All of us are going to stay right here in
Freetown. The only thing is that we all should
realise that the people are tired of war. We should
give them peace. It is not easy but we have to try
hard.
TP: Do you have plans to travel abroad soon?
FS: No, I was supposed to travel to Mali but
Icancelled the trip because I had an inkling that
there were plans to arrest me. If t hat is so, then
let it happen in my country. Come and arrest me in
this house (laughs) and not at the airport. A man’s
best security is himself. So I cancelled the trip and
sent the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mike Lamin,
Sheik Nabay and a Secretary to represent me.
TP: During a discussion programme over 96.2 FM radio
station, Hinga Norman suggested that the RUF
combatants disarm first before the kamajors because
you are the aggressors. What is your view?
FS: I don’t blame Hinga Norman at all for making such
an irrelevant statement. The Lome Peace Accord does
not specify who to disarm first. I do not blame him
at all. Norman was arrested by my men in 1995 but I
ordered his release because I took him to be a
brother. But the next time he tries, it will be
different. We were in the army together dating as far
back as 1954 when he was in the Boys’ Platoon in the
first battalion. He was a boy soldier. We were
promoted to the rank of Corporal and later, he became
a commissioned officer in 1963 while I and former
President Momoh were in Kaduna. So you see, I know
him very well. Remember, Norman was tried for plotting
a coup in 1967. Just forget about the lucky Hinga
Norman. Ours is a liberation struggle. We fight
against the enemy of the people. But now, it is time
for peace and not war. In fact let me tell you that I
will never sit together with Norman in any radio
conversation. I will not do that. Norman still wants
to fight. As I am talking to you, he is getting arms
in a particular place around Sierra Rutile. They are
getting arms, let me tell you. Kamajors are in
Bonthe, training daily. This is a threat to both the
leadership of this country and the people of Sierra
Leone. I am getting all the necessary information
from the very heart of the government.
TP: Recently, Johnny Paul Koroma told parliament that
his boys at Okra Hills would not disarm because the
RUF had plans to invade the city. Do you have any
knowledge of such a diabolical plan?
FS: Leave Johnny Paul to say what he wants to say. He
knows he has failed this nation. He tasted power and
was overthrown because of his foolishness. If I were
in that seat, nobody could have shaken me off it. But
because he acquiesced to the words of old politicians,
he failed. He let down the people and caused
thousands to die as junta collaborators. I am here.
Nobody will take me out of Freetown. Forget about
him. He is my brother.
TP: What is your relationship with your wife?
FS: Cordial. In any society, there must be problems.
In fact, there are more problems in the home than
anywhere else. You can call it privacy, but we the
leaders should accept criticisms. However, the
criticisms should be constructive. I am a human being
like any other person. Let me take this opportunity
to advise my brothers that are here. The krio proverb
says, “If you ose nor sell you, trit nor go buy you”.
If I have any problem with my wife, I don’t think
somebody should take it to the press. I don’t blame
the journalists, I blame the system. If the system is
rotten, everything is rotten. The journalists need
money to fund their papers. So they will do anything
to get it. I am not bothered by their writings. No,
I am not. History is there to tell. My wife and I
were responsible for not controlling our emotions. I
am a man who does not take nonsense from anybody,
including my wife. In order to be Sankoh’s wife you
have to be liberated. I am a liberated man. We say
the struggle of the soul. That woman will never be my
wife if she is not liberated. The papers can write
what they want to write. I am not bothered as long as
I am doing the right thing.
TP: Finally Sir, what is your vision for Sierra leone?
FS: (Laughs) My vision? Oh, bright with the
cooperation of the people. I want Sierra Leone to be
the Athens of not only West Africa but Africa as a
whole whereby you and I will enjoy the fruits of our
labour.
This cannot be the task of one man. We have to break
tribalism, nepotism, sectionalism and corruption. My
vision for this country is for generations yet unborn
to reap the fruits of our labour. We should therefore
build a strong foundation which will serve as a
springboard for development. All hands should be on
deck to build this country today so that our children
will say our fathers were noble men. The future for
this country is bright and beautiful.

pool@justice.com
The Pool Newspaper
Fifth Floor,
1, Short Street
Freetown
Sierra Leone.
Tel/Fax: +232-22-220102

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