Opinions' free; Facts are sacred
MONDAY JUNE 26TH 2000
President Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah last Wednesday appointed Vice President , Dr. Albert Joe Demby to act as Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, replacing Peter Borboh Vandy who was the RUF Minister.
Presidential Affairs Minister, Momodu Koroma is Acting Minister of Energy and Power, replacing the RUF Alimamy Paolo Bangura and Mrs. Theresa is acting Minister of Trade and Industry, replacing RUF Mike Lamin.
All the former RUF Ministeras are presently detained at the Pademba Road prisons. The appointment of VP Demby as Acting Lands Minister came as a result of series of turning down by ministers and other government officials called upon by the President to take over the ministry.
Many argued that the Land Ministry is the most controversial of all ministries. “This is the Minisry where most politicians meet their downfall,” a political analyst said.
Names like Abdul Rahman Kamara, Dr. John Karimu and Haja Hafsatu Kabbah were mentioned as the recent victims. The reason most people advanced is that the Lands Ministry is infested with officials who are seasoned in the field of corruption and that they can easily manipulate any minister sent to that ministry.
Liberian, Burkinabe troops will not be accepted
There are clear indications that the decision by the governments of Liberia and Burkina Faso to contribute troops to the ECOWAS force which will be under the UN Mission in Sierra Leone may not be accepted by both government and the people of the country.
This was made clear in a panel and phone-in-discussion programme on FM 98.1 Monday 5th June. The panelists included Dr. Abdul Rahman Dumbuya, Member of Parliament, Professor Septimus Kaikai, Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay, member of the Civil Society Movement, and David Wimhurst, Spokesman for UNAMSIL.
All the speakers, with the exception of UNAMSIL spokesman, in their contributions expressed their reservations about the neutrality of these intending contributing countries, considering their conspicuous roles in aiding and abetting the RUF over the years.
However, the UNAMSIL Spokesman, David Wimhurst, asserted that a country where the UN wants to go into to restore peace, has the unreserved right to express its willingness to accept any country that may wish to contribute troops to the UN mission.
The Presidential Spokesman emphasised that government was aware especially of Liberia not having a standing army that is experienced in peace keeping. And that it was also aware that the current socalled Liberian army is predominantly NPFL oriented. The NPFL is the former rebel organisation of President Charles Taylor.
Dr. Ramadan Dumbuya divulged Parliament’s suspicion on the role of the Liberian President in the recent release of the 500 abducted UN personnel, which according to him, could have been stage-managed by Charles Taylor for the international community to see him as the only solution to the Sierra Leone crisis.
Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay, on behalf of the Civil Society Movement, argued that the troops will not be neutral, considering the chieftain role of their Presidents and Commanders-in-Chief in the Sierra Leone crisis. He reminded listeners that way back in 1991, the Liberian president promised the Sierra Leone people that they would taste the bitterness of war for its government’s role in restoring sanity and peace in Liberia by hosting ECOMOG forces.
However, the UNAMSIL Spokesman in a Press briefing earlier, stated that the Mission was not aware as at yet whether these formal applications have been made by the two countries. “This is a decision for the UN Secretary-General and the government and people of Sierra Leone,” Wimhurst asserted.
Terra-Tech Extends Humanitarian Activities in Mile 91
At Mile 91, over 35,000 displaced people from Bombali and Tonkolili districts in the Northern part of Sierra Leone last week benefited from non food items with millions of leones donated by the German government through Terra-Tech.
Representing the Minister and Director General of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the NGO Laison officer in the Ministry of Health, Mr. M. A. Jalloh, told the displaced people that the Ministry would cooperate in action with other NGOs like Terra-Tech to salvage their plight. He said that MSF Holland would soon establish a clinic at Mile 91 and the Ministry would o provide basic drugs to improve the health situation.
The Country Representative of the German-based programme Terra-Tech, Mr. Hassan Basma in his statement, told beneficiaries that for the past years, the programme has contributed in medical services at the Moyamba District. He added that as a result of the current humanitarian situation, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in an emergency meeting appealed to Terra-Tech and other NGOs to intervene and assist thousands of displaced people and by that, Terra-Tech through the German government saw the emergency need for relief assistance and provided the following items: sleeping mats, plates, spoons, cups, soap and second-hand clothing.
Mr. Basma therefore handed over the items to a displaced welfare committee and the Medical Doctor, Dr. M. Dumbuya formed recently in Mile 91.
Receiving the items, the Chairman of the Displaced Welfare Committee and Medical Doctor of the Government Hospital in Makeni, Dr. M.S. Dumbuya, noted that the committee comprised local dignitaries of both Bombali and Tonkolili districts including the Paramount Chief of Mile 91. He said that the committee would be supervised by UNAMSIL and implementing NGOs in Mile91.
Dr. Dumbuya thanked the German Government through Terra-Tech for the timely intervention, pointing out that the people lacked medical facilities and that drugs provided by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, CARITAS and other NGOs were not enough because the CARITAS clinic in Mile 91 targets over 500 patients daily.
He stated that the vulnerable cases were mostly children, pregnant women and the old people, adding that diseases like malaria, skin infection, dysentry and diarrhoea are common among these people, and he said that serious surgical cases are mostly reported to Bo government hospital.
Dr. Dumbuya appealed to Terra-Tech, other operational NGOs, including the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to support by providing emergency logistics for medical staff working at the different clinics in Mile 91. He also added that drugs, food, shelter and clothing should be urgently provided to alleviate the current situation at Mile 91.
FBC receives donation from US Philantropist
The Mass Communications Students of Fourah Bay College celebrated their Annual Mass Communications Day last weekend with a splendid ceremony on campus.
According to the report of the occassion broadcasted on National SLBS radio and TV, the main highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of hundreds of dollars worth of communication equipment donated to the Mass Communication students by US-based Sierra Leonean philantropist, Dr. Sylvia Blyden.
The items which included an electric typewriter, cameras, color printer, calculators, computer, computer parts, an uninterrupted power system, a surge protector, a voltage converter, several packets of high quality white paper, files and folders, staple machines and pins, computer diskettes, computer books, and a telephone, were formally handed over to the Department of Mass Communications by Sulaiman Momodu, the president of the student's association.
Mr. Momodu in his speech praised Dr. Sylvia Blyden for her prompt response to the cry of the Fourah Bay College Department in April. According to Mr. Momodu, Dr. Sylvia Blyden immediately despatched an email promising to donate communication equipments to the department.
"Within a few weeks of her email, not only were the items in Freetown, but she also ensured that she fully paid the customs duty for the items as well as send money for us to acquire a voltage transmiter. She was incredible!" exclaimed the outgoing president of the students to loud applause.
Several awards to Friends of the Department were given out. Blyden's meritorious award was collected by her grandmother, Mrs. Elsie Carew.
The Press Under Fire
The press, both local and international, print and electronics, has been accused of having not performed positively towards the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord.
This accusation was made by participants of civil society movements in a two-day National Conference on the Lome Peace Accord as a conflict management resolution document during the closing ceremony on 23rd June, 2000.
The participants in their varied contributions, accused especially the local print media of sensationalism, misinformation and painting a gleamer picture about the security situation in the country, thus scaring away potential investors.
The participants claimed in particular that the local prrint media fell short of patriotism, nationalism and objectivity in its reportage of the war. To some extent, they maintained, the press exposed pro-government forces to enemy assaults because they diabolically disclosed pro-government positions at the front.
As a consequence, in the final resolution presented at the close of the conference, participants called on SLAJ to establish a Press Council to be backed by the government press bill, aimed at controlling the press. They also suggested that government set up a committee to monitor news reports especially in relation to the war.
The final resolution also made recommendation for the training of jounalists on conflict management techiques to enhance their objective war reportage.
However Sierra Leone is at present rated top on the list as the most dangerous country for jounalists because of the lack of protection for them in the course of their duties.
On the 25th May this year, two foreign jounalists were killed and two others seriously wounded in an ambush on their way to collect first-hand war stories from the warfront. Several other local jounalists have equally met their demise in the same vein, notable among which is Mr. Eddie Smith, a war correspondent for the BBC.
Despite these ugly scenarios and the threat to the life of jounalists particularly from the local print, they continue to ensure that the people are well informed about events in the war front as it is their solemn responsibility.
Labour Congress Conference Endorse Lome Accord For
The two-day National Conference on the Lome Peace Accord as a Conflict Management Resolution Document, held under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress in callaboration with the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, ended Friday 23rd June, 2000 at the Miatta Conference hall.
The conference which drew participants from civil societies and other interest groups accross the country, endorsed the Lome Peace Accord as still relevant for the attainment of lasting peace for Sierra Leone.
However in the final resolution drafted by the participants, they recommended, among other things, the revisiting or amendment of Articles V, VIII, IX and XIII. These deal with enabling the RUF/SL to join a broad-based government of national unity through cabinet appointments, the Commision for the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development, Pardon and Amnesty and the transformation and new mandate of ECOMOG/UNAMSIL respectively.
The resolution also made special reference to the time frame of the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme and suggested that it be resheduled. It also entreated government to call on International Community to exert pressure on Charles Taylor, President of Liberia to use his influence on the RUF to conform to the Peace Process in Sierra Leone.
Mention was also made of government to ensure the prosecution of violators of the Peace Accord since May this year, and that government should ensure that no elections are held until there is permanent peace and a complete disarmament of all combatants.
Since the resurgence of renewed hostilities in the country, culminating from the abduction of UNAMSIL military personnel and the May 8th incident, which almost saw the unviability of the Lome Peace Accord, this conference is the first so far convened to help identify problems that affected its speedy implementation and ways of salvaging it from total collapse.
Salone Faces Another Crisis
The current upsurge in fighting between the RUF and pro-government forces has sparked up a new wave of humanitarian crisis in the country. This situation is aggravated by the concentration of fighting in the north of the country.
The Humanitarian community present in Sierra Leone has therefore expressed concern about this situation and the general insecurity that is hindering them from penetrating those areas.
According to Ahunnah Eziakonwa of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA),an estimated 90,391 have been registered as Internal Displaced Persons(IDPs) from Tonkolili District (Mile91 and its surroundings), PortLoko District (Tasso Island and Kakum), Lungi Area(including Conakride and Bailor Mafe), Port Loko Town, Lokomasama Chiefdom, Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Masimera Chiefdom, Kambia District.
This is as a result of the resurgence of hostilities between pro-government forces and the RUF rebels. People complained of insecurity and lack of food in their respective locations. They are reported to have resurfaced at Mile91 in the Tonkolili District and the Lungi Area. Twenty Thousand persons are said to have converged in Lungi alone.
Ahunnah further disclosed that a total of 200,000 Internally Displaced Persons have so far been registered within the greater Freetown area, and there are plans for a relocation of these newly registered people. To cope with this emergency, Ahunnah maintained that OCHA has despatched assessment teams to displaced camps within Freetown and Lungi to study the humanitarian needs.
In a related development, the international humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), expressed deep concern particularly for the international community’s attention in Sierra Leone focusing on the UN forces (UNAMSIL), thus neglecting the plight of the civilian population.
The statement maintained that the renewed fighting in Sierra Leone and the lack of humanitarian access to the population at risk have strained food supplies and led to the first reports of malnutrition and the possibility of the outbreak of widespread diseases.
The statement further disclosed that the renewed fighting has had severe impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the northern province and eslewhere in the country.
It stated, “A food shortage exists in Makeni, which is now cut off from the capital, resulting in children under five years showing first signs of malnutrition.”
WEDNESDAY MAY 31ST 2000.
ECOWAS, SLPP, WHO’S FOOLING WHO?
Sierra Leoneans are still puzzled by the turn of events following the Abuja Summit of ECOWAS Heads of States which dicussed the present crisis.
After what appeared as a diplomatic blunder, the ECOWAS Executive Secretary, Lansana Kouyateh, early this week publicly apologised over the BBC for misinforming the world over a decision on the fate of RUF leader, Foday Sankoh ,purportedly taken by the ECOWAS heads of states.
Kouyateh said the decision to take Sankoh out of Sierra Leone was not endorsed by all the heads of states present at the summit as he previously announced.
However, according to what looked like a communique issued at the end of the summit, a committee of six ECOWAS members comprising Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Togo will be sent to Sierra Leone immediately to determine a date for a ceasefire and to end renewed fighting in the country.
This commitee, according to the communique, will investigate as to what lead to the renewed hostillities and study the illegal trade in diamonds in the region.
Also, the committee has been mandated to make contacts with all the fighting factions to prevail on them to return to their original bases up to the time of signing the Lome Peace Agreement on July 7 last year.
The leaders also called on the RUF to disarm and demobilise voluntarily.
The current ECOWAS chairman, president Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali was asked to prevail on member states who had pledged to contribute contingents to honor their commitments.
Seven countries had offered troops for the mission, which is expected to be heavily dominated by Nigerian soldiers.
Earlier, ECOWAS spokesman, Dr. Adriene Diop, told reporters that it had been agreed that the West African troops would work under the United Nations rather than as a separate paralled force.
She said Sankoh “would be taken out of Sierra Leone to be kept in a safer place”while efforts to revive the peace process continued.
The decision by ECOWAS to take Sankoh out of Sierra Leone was opposed by some citizens.
In a live radio telephone programme on the National SLBS FB 99.9 on Tuesday morning, some callers rejected the ECOWAS decision and insisted that Sankoh must be tried in Sierra Leone. Others suggested that Sankoh can be taken out of Sierra Leone if that will bring peace in Sierra Leone.
1000 Jordanian Peacekeepers Arrive
A contingent of 1,014 Jordanian peacekeeping troops left Amman Monday for Sierra Leone.
The Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported that the contingent includes a field hospital.
This battalion brings close to 2000 the number of Jordanian peacekeepers currently serving with UNAMSIL.
Meanwhile,the UNAMSIL Force Commander, Major General Vijay Kumar Jetley has said in Freetown that the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme is, according to his words, “still very much on” as far as the United Nations is concerned.
General Jetley said that they were going to move forward in a planned and systematic way to deploy to all the places where they were deployed earlier.
Since arriving in Sierra Leone, at least eleven peacekeepers have been killed and 30 others wounded. The UN troops sent to disarm rebels have been disarmed themselves, including an entire Guinean battalion which was on its way to join UNAMSIL early this year.
Major Jetley told pressmen last week that his troops were using force when necessary and had inflicted major casualties on the rebels when attacked. “The rebels are still licking their wounds,” Jetley said.
“I am not a christian neither a muslim”
Richard Olu Awoonor Gordon of For Di People newspaper last Monday intimated Magistrate Cole of Court No 4 that he is neither a Christian nor a Muslim and therefore could not swear either in the Holy Quran or the Holy Bible.
He was invited to give evidence in the matter between himself (complainant) and Chernor Ojuku Sesay and Osman F. Koroma (Defendants).
The Magistrate allowed Gordon to take an affirmation after which he proceeded with his evidence.
He told the court that he is a journalist working with the FOR DI PEOPLE newspaper and shares the same building with the defendants at 1, Short Street.
Gordon said he read the newspapers supplied by his vendor every morning . On March 29, 2000, according to Gordon, he read a story in The Pool newspaper under “Public Eye” column headlined, Good Ole Olu ... Part 1
This publication, the complainant revealed, was aimed at tarnishing his image and therefore he sort redress in court.
The defending counsels, Edward J. Akar and Amadu Koroma Esq. said they had nothing to ask the complainant. The matter was adjourned to Tuesday June 6.
Armed Robbers on the rampage
Six suspected armed robbers are now helping the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in their investigations at the Central Police Station.
According to one of the victims, Ishaga Jalloh of 12B Fullah Street, Fullah Town, the armed robbers stormed his residence at about 3 am during a heavy rainfall and put them under gunpoint.
Ishaga Jalloh said that 300 U.S dollars, Le400,000, an ex-bass tape recorder, six pair of shoes and nine jeans trousers were taken away by the armed robbers.
“Our house was damaged by bullets and one of my brothers, Alhaji Sheku, was stabbed on his left ankle,” Ishaga complained.
According to an eyewitness, the apprehension of the suspects came about when another victim, Arsie, saw her necklace on one of the robbers’ neck. Arsie was reported to have attacked the suspected robber and took him to the Central Police Station.
During the investigations, it was discovered that Sulaiman Kamara and Regina Thomas are civilians and Lt. Tee, Gilbert and Junior are SLAs. Sources further said that Sulaiman Kamara had obtained a statement of guilt.
The other suspects are said to have been boasting that even if they are found guilty, they will only be sent to the warfront as punishment.
Meanwhile, ten houses are reported to have been attacked during the past few weeks by fully armed robbers within Fullah Town, the central western areas of the city..
Riot police on the alert
The first batch of thirty-three riot police officers on the 26 May, 2000 passed out after a two weeks training at Jui Barracks.
The well dressed riot officers paraded in front of the police Headquarters, George street. They displayed their instruments as a way of sending signals to rioters that they are ready to execute their duties as loyal officers of the nation.
The riot kits (protective equipment) comprise a bag, handcuffs, batton, helmet, a hand shield and a communication set.
The Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. B. A. Kamara, commended the British government for providing the necessary equipment for the security of this nation.
Mr. Kamara explained that the advance training of the riot police will take place countrywide. “There will be more trainees for the provincial areas,” he said.
According to Mr. B. A. Kamara, the training is only for two consecutive weeks and that they will work relentlessly to see that their mission is accomplished to stop riots in the country. He advised the newly trainined officers to work in the interest of the public.
Mr. Kamara warned that police officers should be always on the alert to trap down rioters. “The British expartriate, Mr.Ray England is always ready to give the officers the necessary skills to thoroughly execute their duties”, Mr. B.A. Kamara said.
The Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police concluded by saying that the anti riot officers comprised of three groups, the first squad is those with only battons and anti gas masks; the second squad is those that carry small guns, and the last squad is those that carry heavy guns. “:And there will be a police support team with twenty men and two commanders,” Mr. Kamara explained.
In another development, twenty-six people were reported to have been arrested the previous night for violating curfew.
According to one of the police officers, those arrested were from some ghetos and others for loitering with intent.
Don't smoke, tobacco kills!
World No Tobacco Day will be celebrated today, Wednesday 31st May, 2000 by an estiamted one hundred and nineteen nation states including Sierra Leone.
This year’s theme is, “TOBACCO KILLS -Dont Be Duped”.
It is aimed at sensitizing the world’s population and indeed Sierra Leoneans about the hazards of tobacco consumption.
In a press briefing held at China House Monday 29th May, 2000 to commemorate this occasion, it was emphasized that tobacco is a killer and that its manufacturers are duping people through massive and cajoling advertisements, hinging this mainly on the economic benefits of enterpreneurs and governments.
According to the chairman, Dr.Sheku Kamara, tobacco is responble for the series of pathologies in the human system. He catalogued killer diseases such as cancer, TB, CDA, mouth and throat cancers as mainly due to tobacco.
He said that he could not give any estimate of tobacco related deaths due to the war but emphasised that when this figure shall be made available, it will be alarming. He expressed concern over the growth of teenage delinquency and addictiveness to tobacco. He stated that most of these start at thirteen and by their long consumption, renders them prone to these killer diseases.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr.Tejan-Jalloh, in his statement also re-echoed the dangers of tobacco consumption. He lamented that Sierra Leone as a developing country can ill-afford further deaths after its population has been depleted by more than nine years of rebel war and destruction.
He disclsoed that 11,000 people worldwide die from tobacco related diseases, and stated, “Remember, tobacco is a disease communicated through advertisements and promotions for which the tobacco industries spend billions of dollars,” adding, “It is regrettable that those who are dying are dying from their habits through long cancer, coronary heart diseases or chronic obstructive long dieases”.
For his part, Rod Mac-Johnson, Health Information Officer - WHO deputizing for the WHO representative, Dr William Aldis, stated that there has been a shift in pattern as the biggest cost of tobacco lies in its health impact.
He disclosed that currently, four million people die every year due to tobacco-related diseases and that the figure is expected to rise to ten million by 2020 with most of these deaths occuring in developing countries including Sierra Leone. He called for the control of tobacco consumption stating. “Health, not economic arguments is the reason for controlling tobacco”. He urged that the central issue regarding tobacco should be to demand its reduction to promote public health goals. He further stressed the need for WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to formulate strong tobacco control policies aimed at benefitting the people and also allowing government to have a well prepared position for the proposed national institution to be established under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
In the absence of this, Dr.Rod Mc-Johnson suggested that the Ministry of Health either independently or in concert with other Ministries and NGOs should initiate the production of a policy paper or a law to establish such an institution to control tobacco.
RUF, Kamajors make peace in Tongo
Former members of the Sierra Leone Army Provo-Marshall, Colonel K.S. Banya commanding the RUF 2nd Brigade in Tongo has said that he and his men are no longer interested in war.
According to reports, the RUF commander made a voluntary statement on a cassette, which was later relayed on the Kenema SLBS FM 98.5 radio station. In that radio broadcast, the commander stated that much has been lost during the war both in human and material resources, and that now is the time to give peace a chance.
In another development, reports revealed that a meeting was held between RUF Commander K. S. Banya and the Kamajor Commander for the Lower Bambara Chiefdom known as BJK at Tongo. During this meeting, the reports state, Banya said that it was a confidence- building move, aimed at sending the message loud and clear to the civilian population that Tongo Field and more so the entire Lower Bambara Chiefdom is now and forever peaceful. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Kamajor Commander who, the reports say, said that no victor emerged during the nine years of unnecessary killing, rather, only victims who are too many for any soberminded person.
He called for a show of remorse by all those who have actively participated in unleashing suffering on the people of this country. He stated that he saw no reason why this once peaceful country should be plunged into such a beleaguered situation which only ended up in impoverishing the entire nation.
At the end of the meeting, prayers were offered and libations poured to appease their ancestors. Two cows were slaughtered as part of the sacrifice. The blood of the cows was said to be an indicator of the end of blood shedding in the country.
MONDAY MAY 29TH 2000
UNAMSIL May Not Fight Again
The United Nations’ Mission in Sierra Leone, despite its frustrations and setbacks in its operations in war-torn Sierra Leone, may not engage itself in any confrontation with the RUF as a last resort.
According to the UNAMSIL spokesman, David Wimhurst, although there seems no peace to keep at the moment in the country, in due course there will be need for one. He maintained that the UN is finding a way through which the present circumstances can be reversed to its earlier status like after the signing of the Lome Accord. He emphasised, “There is no future for any military option in this country.”
The Spokesman further stated that if the UN had not seen any need for its presence in the country, it would have thought otherwise.
However, he blamed the RUF for negating the terms of the accord by provoking the current spate of violence that has once again engulfed the country.
When asked about the rationale behind the massive military build up by UNAMSIL, the spokesman stated, “This is a way of demonstrating the UN’s strength,” adding that the Helicopter gunships to be supplied by Russia will be only used appropriately when necessary.
Journalists Killed Again
Two Foreign journalists were killed and another two seriously wounded Wednesday 24th May 2000, in the early afternoon hours in an ambush launched by suspected members of the Rewvolutionary United Front rebels. The attack took place at an unidentified spot between Rogbereh and Lunsar some sixty kilometres east of Freetown.
The jorunalists had risked it to go and get first hand details on the fighting at the front, when they met their untimely death Kurt Schork, an American working for Reuters and Miguel Gilmoreno, a Spaniard, working for the Associated Press, died instantly. With them were Mark Shisholu, a South African cameraman and Yannis Behrakis, a Greek Photographer. These sustained serious gunshot wounds and reports say they are being treated in one of the government’s hospitals. Four other SLAs whose identities have not been disclosed also died in the attack.
The UNAMSIL spokesman, David Wimhurst, said the journalists took the initiative of braving it to that area without any clearance from UNAMSIL. According to him, they always take journalists to areas considered safe.
However, he expressed shock and sadness of the incident. He described the journalists as fine and experienced war correspondents and that their loss is felt far beyond this place.
In related development, the United Nations Secretary-General in a special statement on the death of the two journalists, also expressed his sadness. He stated that these were professionals seeking to report on a bloody conflict that has already taken too many lives. He also stated, “They were doing what other journalists are doing around the world - taking risaks so that the rest of us can keep informed”. The UN scribe asserted that one thing is uncovered by these deaths and that is, in Sierra Leone the killing has not stopped.
Civilian Harassment on the rise
Investigations carried out by this press reveal that there is an increase in the harassment of civilians.
Reports state that Abdul Rahman Sesay and Abib Jalloh are the latest victims of rebel harassment. The two went to Kono soon after the signing of the Lome Peace Accord where they were contracted by some men to mine diamonds. These men, believed to be rebels, later accused Sesay and Jalloh of stealing diamonds. They were severely beaten, almost to the point of death.
The two friends however managed to escape from the custody of the rebels, but their whereabouts are yet unknown. It was however established that the two indeed had some diamonds in thier possession.
It is reported that the rebels have mounted a manhunt for Abdul Rahman Sesay and Abib Jalloh, and are threatening their parents who the rebels accused of hiding them.
The rebels are reported to have vowed to kill Sesay and Jalloh any time they are seen. It is also reported that government security agents are on the look-out for the two friends in connection with their role in the illegal mining of diamonds.
It is opined that the two people are on the run.
Kabbah Is Disappointed
President Kabbah has expressed his disappointment over the planned withdrawal of the British troops from Sierra Leone which he said, “will create a big security vacuum”. President Kabbah however said that he would make a personal plea to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for the troops to stay.
The President told newsmen Friday that the detained Revolutionary United Front rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, will face the courts and answer to crimes committed after the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement.
He did not however disclose when the trial will commence, but merely said, “pretty soon”. He was optimistic about the gains of pro-government forces and assured that the Lome Peace Agreement is still viable despite the absence of Foday Sankoh.
It will be recalled that in November 1998, President Kabbah, in a BBC interview, assured Sierra Leoneans that the war would end in Decenber of that year. On the contrary, the war escalated immediately after that interview and assumed the worst turn when the rebels succeeded in storming the city on January 6, 1999, killing thousands of innocent civilians.
Makeni On Fire as Civilians Flee
Reports monitored by this press on the situation in the provincial headquarter town of Makeni indicate that the town is being systematically and comprehensively burnt down by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front as they run away from advancing pro-government forces.
As a result of the rebels’action, civilians, including women and children, are fleeing the township.
The reports further state that RUF rebels have vowed to do to Makeni what they did to Koidu town in Kono. Civilians are also reported to have been forced out of their homes and ordered to take only what is required. The houses are then set ablaze, the report stated.
Houses along the town’s main thoroughfare, according to our sources, have been burnt down. It is revealed that RUF fighters have expressed their determination to ensure that pro-government forces find it difficult to take over the town.
In a press briefing Thursday, May 25, at the Mammy Yoko Hotel, UNAMSIL spokesman, David Wimhurst, said that they were getting reports of arson attacks in Makeni by RUF rebels. He confimed the burning of Teko barracks, the town hall and a school.
Also, Ahunna Eziakonwa of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed the mass exodus of people from Makeni.
“Maskita Will Not Surprise Us” ...Lt Sam
There are indications that the Sierra Leone Military Forces are poised to forestall any threat that many jeorpadise the security of this nation.
In a Press briefing at the Military Headquarters, Cockeril, Lt.Col. Sam Mboma, deputising for the Chief of Defence Staff stated in no uncertain terms that, Sam Bockarie, the renegade Field Commander of the RUF, now in Liberia, is not a threat at all, saying, “He will no longer take us by surprise. If he is planning, we are also effectively planning to counter his plans.”
Commenting on President Charles Taylor’s Press statement, the Lieutenant-Colonel stated that inasmuch as it is government’s responsibility to respond appropriately to that, the military sees him as insincere and untrustworthy. He questioned the rationale behind the RUF’s releaseof UNAMSIL personnel through Liberia and not directly to the Sierra Leone government.
He therefore emphasised that even through his efforts, president Charles Taylor would be held entirely responsible any time Sam Bockarie makes a destructive come-back into this country.
He also rebuffed speculations that the army is facing hiccups in its current operations. He maintained, “There are no hiccups in the operational command of the fighting forces.” He also denied suggestions that the army is receiving logistics and personnel support from foreign sources. He stressed that all operational logistics at the disposal of government troops are procured by government alone, adding, “We are not receiving any help from any other quarter as at now.”
However in his special message to RUF combatants, he called on them to surrender and hand in their weapons, assuring them of a humane treatment. “We are all brothers, not enemies; let them come onboard to help in rebuilding this country”, Lt-Col Mboma emphasised.
He repeated government’s position that they are not attacking RUF positions but rather they are in a defensive move of retaking any area from which their men are attacked. He declared, “We will cease fire when decided upon by government.”
Kakay Freed, Harry Will Guilty
Justice M.O.Tejan-Deen of the Freetown High Court on Fridasy acquitted and discharged Mr. Bockarie Kakay, businessman of Rank Xerox fame who was the third accused in the trial between former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Harry Will and former Director of Agriculture, Lamina Feika against the state.
The two were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the government of Sierra Leone the Sum of US $ 1.3 million. Ironically, the two were each fined Five Hundred Thousand Leones (Le500,000).
The trial of the three commenced almost seven months ago with 16 witnesses testifying on behalf of the prosecution and 59 exhibits tendered.
Though political observers described the fine as ridiculous, they however, remarked that Harry Will’s political ambitions have been dashed, because he has been found guilty of a criminal offence which is against the constitution.
As for Bockarie Kakay, the outcome of the trial confirms that he is a genuine businessman with untainted record. He was awarded a contract and he supplied the exact quantity and quality required.
Chiluba sends message to Kabbah
President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia has sent the Commander of the Zambian Army, Lieutenant General Geojago Musengule to meet President Kabbah and deliver a message of solidarity to the Zambian peacekeeping troops.
The envoy is also expected to meet president Charles Taylor of Liberia and other West African leaders to express appreciation for the role they played to ensure the release of the Zambian soldiers abducted by the RUF.
President Chiluba was quoted as saying that the soldiers were sent here to keep peace and not to fight a war.
Meanwhile, the RUF are reported to have released another batch of 180 hostages. The UNAMSIL spokesman, David Wimhurst, confirmed the release and said they had already been flown to Monrovia.
Kabbah warns politicians
President Kabbah has warned Parliamentarians and other politicians not to take advantage of the present security lapses in the country thereby uttering statements or involving in acts that will further deteriorate the situation.
In a nationwide broadcast last Saturday evening, Kabbah admonished the people to have faith in the government they elected. “As an executive, we are bound to take decisions we think are in the best interest of the majority; at the same time we are also bound to listen to your cries,” President said. He promised to do everything possible to live up to the expectations of the people.
WEDNESDAY MAY 24TH 2000.
Competent military sources disclosed to this press yesterday Tuesday, May 23, 2000 that government troops were still at Mamusa village but were expected to capture Lunsar town by today. “That our troops have captured Makeni town is a figment of people’s imagination,” the officer reacted.
In Kambia, reports indicated that the RUF conscripted civilians over the weekend in the towns of Rokupr, Bamoi and Kamula and that the rebels had regrouped at the towns of Madina, Mambolo and Moribaya in the Samu Chiefdom. The rebels are also confirmed to be digging trenches around Kambia bridge to prevent an advance of pro-government forces.
20 SLAs executed in Kono
An eyewitness who escaped from Kono to Guinea through bushpath, has told this press that at least twenty SLA soldiers that were co-habiting with the rebels were rounded up and detained early this month.
According to the rebels, the source said, this was a remedial measure to forestall any uprising against them.
But as news of developments in the war front reached them, the eye witness revealed, the detainees were driven to the Koidu Community Centre football field and were summarily executed by firing squad. The head of the execution team was quoted as saying,
“This is a demonstration that we will eliminate all SLAs.”
The eyewitness also disclosed that family members and friends of those executed SLAs were publicly harassed and closely monitored.
Latest reports state that with the progress of pro-government forces against the RUF, youths and able-bodied civilians are forcefully conscripted into the RUF war machinery. All roads leading out of the district and most particularly, the headquarter town of Koidu have been blockaded, the eyewitness disclosed.
RUF Hires White Mercenaries
Reports reaching this press from civilians fleeing the besieged district of Kono indicated that scores of white mercenaries have been contracted by the RUF to fight on their side.
According to these reports, these white mercenaries surfaced in the district immediately the pro-government onslaught began. The reports disclosed that they are engaged in intensive training, and that heavy artilleries and “sophisticated” weaponry are seen with the mercenaries.
The reports maintained that more serious training exercises are taking place in three separate areas, namely: Tombodu in Kamaa chiefdom, Yormandu in Sandor Chiefdom and Yardu in Gbenseh Chiefdom.
Another report quoted one of the white mercenaries as saying that this time round once they get started, they will not rest until they reach the heart of the city, Freetown.
“We have special interests in Kono. Our monies have been paid, we have our licences and they want to revoke that. No way. We prefer dying along with our money.”
It is learnt that helicopters and other light aircraft are seen on a daily basis, shuttling in and out of the Yengema Airfield.
“Appreciate the efforts of UNAMSIL” ... Adeniji
“The credibility and confidence of the UN Mission in the country is untenable in the eyes of several Sierra Leoneans. They see the mission as incapable and having fallen short of their expectations.”
These sentiments have been reacted to by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji. He was speaking in a press briefing at the Mammy Yoko Hotel, Monday 22nd May 2000.
According to the Ambassador, it is expected that the people of this country will appreciate the efforts of UNAMSIL. He maintained that with a mere six thousand troops, it has to ensure its presence in every part of the country. He stated that this gave cause for the troops to be thinly deployed across the country.
The Ambassador also stated that the UN was anticipating the full cooperation of all the parties to the conflict with the Lome Peace Agreement and the presence of the UN troops.
“It was our belief that with the UN troops on the ground, peace would have been given a chance,” the ambassador said.
He lamented on the de-facto circumstance that prevailed at the time of the Lome talks.
“The RUF had already succeeded in asserting its firm grip on areas which they claimed to be under their control,” the ambassador pointed out.
He however stated that the UN was still optimistic as the Agreement did not draw any demarcations on areas of control of any party as it was believed that the entire territory of Sierra Leone lies within the jurisdiction of the government of Sierra Leone. He therefore declared,
“It is illegal for any faction to occupy any part of the country and subject it under its absolute control.”
Shootout at Presidential Lodge - 5 dead
Intensive and sustained gun fire was reported during the night of Sunday 21st May at about 1:00 am around the Presidential Lodge at Hill Station.
The shooting which started around the residence of the Chief Security Officer to the President spread on to the Wilberforce barracks, leading to the death of two Nigerian UNAMSIL personnel and one seriously wounded and three of the assailants dead and one captured.
According to UNAMSIL sources, the assailants identified as Ex-SLAs of the West Side Jungle of Okra Hills, had gone to demand the release of their colleague who was in custody at the Barracks guard room.
The initial shootout at the Hill Station vicinity had alerted the NIBAT contingent at the Barracks. On reaching the barracks, the rebels were engaged.
Reports disclosed that the ex-SLAs succeeded in freeing their colleague from custody, and that his whereabouts are not known.
Meanwhile, UNAMSIL spokesman David Wimhurst, when contacted, confirmed the incident and further disclosed that an emergencey security meeting of all heads of the various security units was convened to assess the development.
FRIDAY MAY 19TH 2000
If everything goes as scheduled, Reverend Jesse Jackson, special envoy of the United States President Bill Clinton, will arrive Freetown early next week. His mission is to advance negotiations already underway for the release of captured UNAMSIL personnel with the RUF, and also to see how best the United States government can contribute in beefing up the UN troops morale.
However, much controversy has surrounded Reverend Jackson’s visit. He has been quoted by certain local newspapers as drawing a similarity between the ANC/Nelson Mandela, and the RUF/Foday Sankoh and that all the warring factions in the Sierra Leone conflict have the blood of innocent Sierra Leoneans on their hands.
This has caused outrage both in diplomatic and ordinary circles. But on Monday 15th May, the special envoy in a press release categorically denied stating so, and charged that he was misunderstood.
According to the special envoy, he merely stated that Mandela headed a similar revolutionary group in South Africa that was adverse to the status quo, but was able, through a well organised and disciplined leadership, to peacefully co-exist with their adversaries in a peaceful democratic dispensation.
He condemned the current upsurge of hostilities by the RUF and stated that this has seriously dented the credibility and confidence of the Sierra Leone people and the international community on the RUF and its leadership.
He however emphasized his conviction in the pursuance of the diplomatic option as the only way out for the permanent restoration of peace in Sierra Leone. He called on the RUF to stop the fighting, and to avail itself to the tenets of the Lome peace accord and allow its fighters to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate.
Youth on the run
The peace demonstration of Monday 8th May that turned violent had not only been consequential for RUF leader Foday Sankoh and those matyred that day, but also on other people that are now running for their lives.
One of such persons is poor Mohamed Lahour Jalloh, a fifteen-year old youth. His uncle was a close friend of RUF leader chairman Foday Sankoh with whom there existed good neighbourliness.
Reports have it that an angry mob stormed the house of this friend at Spur Road on the suspicion that Chairman Sankoh has something with his friend. In the circumstance, the friend and another man purported to be marabouts of Sankoh were murdered, and the house ransacked. It was only by chance that Mohamed and his cousins escaped for their lives.
According to reports, Mohamed was the main errand boy of his Uncle to Sankoh, and reports stated that his name was heard persistently muted among the youths of that area. It is feared that he too might be targeted if seen.
Since then Mohamed has not been seen and nothing has been heard of his whereabouts. The potential threat to his well being is considered to be the principal reason for Mohamed’s sudden disappearance. Since then all efforts to locate him have proven futile.
It is reliably learnt that Mohamed has got no other elder from among his relation to chaperon him and it is feared that with this trauma he could develop some sort of mental derangement.
The psyche of the civil population especially of those whose family members and loved ones were murdered during the demonstration is considered as severe. It is feared that if Mohamed should return, he might be either victimized or persecuted.
Kono Rebels On High Alert
Reports filtering from escapees in Kono, state that rebels of the RUF are in high alert for any possible attack by either their former allies, the SLAs or UNAMSIL.
Reports disclosed that the rebels have warned civilians to desist from any attempt at fleeing especially from the townships of Korkwima and Koidu in anticipation of any confrontation. It is realiablely stated that the rebels have mounted checkpoints around the precincts of the Koidu / New Sembehun area which comprises both Gbense and Tankoro chiefdoms, and Tombodu as far as Yormandu.
This is an apparent move to cordon these areas so that civilians are controlled. “Even houses are now searched for any sign of attempt at fleeing. Bundles and other parked belongings are scattered when they come across them,” one lucky escapee explained.
In another development, it is realiably disclosed that the remaining Zambian and Kenyan UNAMSIL personnel captured have been shared into units among the various commando units. Mining activities have been unilaterally ordered stopped.
Also disclosed is that the rebels are mostly now dressed in UNAMSIL outfits and have stationed the seized amoured cars at strategic points in readiness for what is described as a showdown to ‘live or die.’
Pro-government forces are also said to be in full readiness to combat with the rebels.
WAEC To Lose Examiners
The West African Examinations Council located at Tower Hill is likely to lose examiners for public examinations if urgent steps are not taken to mend the acrimony that is slowly developing.
Reports reaching this press state that many examiners who are also teachers are grumbling about the failure of WAEC to pay them for the invigilation of examinations and the marking of scripts. Teachers accused WAEC officials of being insensitive to their plight. They noted that even though they successfully invigilated and marked the scrips for June 1999, November 1998 and 1999 ordinary level examinations, the July 1999 Basic Education Certificate Examinations and the July 1999 National Primary School Examinations, not a single cent has been paid them.
“WAEC officials are treating their work with levity,” a senior teacher at the Ansarul Islamic Secondary School, Freetowen is quoted as saying.
Mr. Jeff Momoh, another teacher, explained that he had not received his pay for marking the Ordinary level examinations scripts of 1998 and 1999.
Mrs. Kamara, a primary school teacher, is yet to receive her money for marking the 1998 and 1999 NPSE scripts. She has therefore vowed not to participate in any more invigilation for WAEC. She complained that the officials at Exams Council had neglected her despite her interest in helping the kids.
This unhealthy treatment given to teachers by WAEC is breeding contempt for the organisation as teachers are now holding secret meetings to map out strategies to, in their own words, ‘teach WAEC a lesson.’
MASSIVE RALLY PLANNED AT UN BUILDING
Sierra Leoneans in the United States are planning a Mammoth Rally in front of the United Nations Building in New York. The rally at the UN will start at 12:00 noon on Thursday, May 25th 2000 stated Mr. Ishmael Taylor Kamara in an email message to the Pool Newspaper. For more details, contact Mr. Kamara at ITKAMARA@rosenman.com
WEDNESDAY MAY 17TH 2000
Government Blasts Jesse Jackson
The United States Envoy for Africa is at the centre of a controversy following remarks he allegedly made concerning the situation in Sierra Leone.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson is quoted by some local tabloids as saying that he would like to see an RUF government in power. This did not go down well with the Tejan Kabbah-led government and majority of the people of this country.
Government therefore Monday issued a press release vehemently condemning President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Africa, describing him as partisan, albeit an RUF sympathiser.
Reverend Jesse Jackson is billed to arrive in Sierra Leone any moment this week to facilitate the implementation of the now shattered Lome peace accord. He is also expected to visit other regional countries in his bid to galvanise support for his mission.
However, political pundits say Jesse Jackson’s visit will do nothing to heal the cracks between him and the government, describing it as a fruitless endeavour.
The US envoy is reported to have compared RUF’s Foday Sankoh to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and the Revolutionary United Front to the African National Congress. He is also reported to have said that Foday Sankoh’s voice was the voice of the people.
In the light of this, the statement read, Jesse Jackson’s visit to Sierra leone may not be welcome until a satisfactory explanation is made. This is not the first time Reverend Jesse Jackson has found himself in an embarassing position with regards to the crisis in Sierra Leone. His views were not taken lightly by the government during his first visit after the restoration of democracy in 1998. He was reported to have advised government to talk peace with the rebels,saying, “Don’t fight it out, talk it out”. But the prevailing circumstances then prompted criticisms from all quarters, describing him as an RUF sympathiser.
It remains to be seen whether the controversial US envoy will make his trip to Sierra Leone or not.
Meanwhile, in a statement read over the pro government FM98.1 radio station, Jesse Jackoson said he was misunderstood by the government of Sierra Leone. More on that in our next edition.
New British envoy for Sa. Leone
A new British High Commissioner for Sierra Leone has been named. He is David Alan Jones, presenting his letters of credence to president Alhaji Dr.Ahmad Tejan Kabbah at State Lodge friday, Mr. Allan Jones recalled the ‘fraternal ties’ between the two countries.Speaking on the ongoing stand-off between the United Nations peace keeping forces and rebels of the Revolunationary United Front, the High Commissioner said that British strongly condemned the act, and called on the leadership of the RUF to immediately cease all hostiliteis and release all abductees.
Mr. Allan Jones told the president that Britain will continue to support the course of democracy in Sierra Leone.
Responding, president Kabbah thanked the British envoy for his interest in the country.The president dilated on the difficulties the country is experiencing, especially the present impasse in the peace process. He therefore called on the British government “to help a friend in need”. Kabbah paid glowing tribute to the outgone British High Commission, Peter Penfold, for his tremendous role during what he described as “the dark days of Sierra Leone”. Various government personalities graced the occasion.
Kramer Implicated in Diamond Deal
The Kramer Group of companies of South Africa, with a branch in Sierra Leone, has been uncloaked in a dubious and clandestine diamond deal in collaboration with chairman Foday Sankoh. The deal entails the exploitation, processing and marketing of the nation’s diamonds.
This disclosure was made by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Solomon Berewa. He was unravelling documents found in the residence of chairman Sankoh following his mysterious escape when loyal troops and demonstrators stormed his Spur Road residence Monday 8th May.
According to the documents, Chairman Sankoh’s controversial visit to South Africa was not for any medical treatment as he had earlier claimed, but rather to honour an invitation by the South African group. The documents revealed that Sankoh and the Kramer group had finalised “all arrangements” that gave the right to the company to exploit, process and market Sierra Leone’s diamonds.
The documents further revealed that the arrangements were not made on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone of which Chairman Sankoh is part. Instead, the documents reveal, the arrangement was to benefit two parties namely, Party A referring to Chairman Sankoh of the CMRRD on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, and part B referring to the Company. Nothing was however mentioned about what each party will benefit in real fiscal terms.
All this, according to the documents, was prepared in a Memorandum of understanding and signed by both parties.
In addition the documents further disclosed that an agreement was reached between the two parties to dispatch a consignment of Television and Radio Transmission equipment to chairman Sankoh. There was a correspondence signed by Sankoh which stated his gratitude and satisfaction to the group for the trip and the arrangements.
Both chairman Sankoh and the Kramer group representative in Sierra Leone have been denying having any business transactions between them.
Police To Charge For War Crimes
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police is engaged in investigations of activities covert and overt of the RUF as a movement and Chairman Foday Sankoh as its leader since the inception of the war in 1991.
The activities considered criminal to both local and international judicial standards range from gross human rights abuse to amputations, arson, rape, murder and abductions.
This was disclosed to the Press by the Director of the CID, Assistant Commissionerof Police, Mr. Oliver B.M. Somansa at police headquarters Monday 15th May 2000.
According to the Director, they are doing this in readiness to prosecute perpetrators of these heinous crimes should the need arise. “We don’t want to be taken by surprise shall the need arise. We want to have all materials with live evidences in readiness,” he submitted. He stated that the police will be focussing on the circumstances that culminated to the ugly incident of 8th May 2000, when live ammunition was fired at peace demonstrators allegedly from Sankoh’s residence, leaving nineteen people dead and dozens wounded. He confirmed that several people are already in police custody helping in its investigations.
The Director also observed that several incriminating documents were carted away by people who stormed Sankoh’s residence on that fateful day, and are still holding on to them. He warned those that have these documents to surrender them to the police as anyone found with any such documents will be regarded by the police as prime suspect and will have him or herself to blame for any inconvenience that may follow. He emphasised that it is wrong for any member of the public to keep such documents.
What was not however appropriately addressed was the issue of looted properties from Sankoh’s residence. It is the view of many Sierra Leoneans that these should be confiscated by the state and not individuals.
“No Political Persecution”
. . . Says Berewa
The Attorney-General and Ministerof Justice has said in Freetown that government will not tolerate any political persecution against any member of the Revolutionary United Front Party.
He was speaking in a press conference at State House over the weekend, following the disclosure that thirty-five people have been rounded up in connection with a foiled RUF coup.
He maintained that the RUFP still stands as a political party, adding that though it has not as yet fulfilled all its criteria. He stated that government has made available an office space for the party so as to satisfy one of these criteria. He however urged party members to continue with the good ideals of the party as called for in a peaceful democratic system. “I will even plead with them to continue being members of the RUFP”, Mr Berewa retorted. He further added, “No person will be persecuted because of his or her association with the RUFP”.
However, he called on all those members especially the combatants who may be still holding within the city to surrender themselves and their arms to either UNAMSIL or the DDR programme. “The DDR is still functioning for any such people. It is government’s fervent aim to clear this nation of all arms so that every one will leave a peaceful life”, Mr. Berewa affirmed.
Earlier Deputy Defence Minister, Sam Hinga Norman, in a radio broadcast, had called on the public to refrain from any kind of retribution against any member of the RUFP or suspected sympathiser of the RUF. He warned of firm action against any person or group who might decide to take the law in their hands and stated, “We don’t want to return to the same scenario that characterised the breakdown of law and order following the restoration of the elected government”.
In a related development, the government , sensing public stigma to resort to vengeance, issued a press release, explaining the rationale behind the published names of presumed Sankoh’s nominees in a local tabloid, and that was photocopied and circulated around town. The release stated that those names were probably nominees of Chairman Sankoh for parastatal, government, departmental and ambassadorial positions. This was however misinterpreted by many as nominees for Sankoh’s new cabinet had he succeeded in his deadly quest for the presidency. Government also questioned the authenticity of this alleged Sankoh list as it was dated December 17th 1999.
Canada Helps Sierra Leone
The Government of Canada has announced a number of measures to help the people of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in its efforts to restore peace. These include $5 million in emergency humanitarian aid, trained planners and experts to help bolster the capacity of the UN for rapid response, and protective equipment for UN peacekeepers.
According to a press release issued in Freetown, Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, will provide the $5 million in emergency humanitarian aid to help the victims of conflict in Sierra Leone. The aid will be targeted to the most vulnerable areas and people in need. It may include emergency food aid, shelter for families who have fled their homes, and emergency health supplies.
“This humanitarian aid will be flexible and targeted to those most in need,” said Minister for International Co-operation Maria Minna. “As soon as it is safe for aid workers to return to Sierra Leone, we will move quickly to start directing this new aid to help the tens of thousands of individuals and families that are caught in the middle of the conflict.”
To help bolster planning capacity of the UN for rapid response, Canada will provide two Canadian Forces officers trained in military operations to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will fund two officers from developing countries.
At the intitiative of Foreign Affairs Minister, Llyod Axworthy, ministers and representatives who were attending a Ministerial Meeting of the Human Security Network in Lucerne,Switzerland, convened an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Sierra Leone. They examined ways in which the Network could assist the UN improve its rapid reaction capability.
“The people of Sierra Leone have suffered tremendously during conflict,” said Minister Axworthy. “It is essential that the UNs be able to react quickly to this and future crises, and find practical ways to improve its ability to respond in an effective and timely manner. It is my hope that Ministers at the Lucerne meeting will arrive at a consensus in order to show leadership in this area.”
Canada will also donate 1700 fragmentation vests and 1700 helmets to the UN for use by peacekeepers of the UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). These items could protect two infantry battalions deployed by the UN. This donation follows a request by the UN to provide these items to troops who had been deployed previously to Sierra Leone without protective equipment. The total value of the donation is approximately $864000.
“The current crisis in Sierra Leone and the hostile actions against the UN peacekeeping mission deployed there demonstrate the serious need to develop within the UN system a real capacity for rapid reaction,” said Minister for National Defence Art Eggleton. “Canada’s assistance will improve the UN’s ability to help, and the equipment we are donating will significantly improve the personal protection of troops in Sierra Leone.”
The Canadian Forces currently have a senior officer on the staff of the Force Commander for the UN Mission in Sierra Leone. As well, a Canadian Forces aircraft will airlift additional troops fromIndia and Bangladesh into this country over the next few weeks.
THE POOL OF FRIDAY MAY 5TH 2000
Government complies with the Lome Agreement”
. . . Professor Kaikai
Government has reacted to allegations of non compliance with the Lome Peace Agreement as charged by the leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), chairman Foday Sankoh.
Speaking in a press conference at State House Wednesday, 3rd May 2000, the Presidential Spokesman, Professor Septimus Kaikai, stated that the Revolutionary United Front Party has always been duly consulted by president Kabbah on all vital issues, but rather the RUFP leader failed to reciprocate.
He noted that government was doing all in its power to ensure lasting peace in the interest of all the parties. He also stated that the goal of government was to institute a policy that will be in the interest of all Sierra Leoneans, and that all these were explained to chairman Sankoh on a regular basis.
On the allegations raised by the RUFP, the Spokesman noted with concern that it was only through the smooth implementation of the DDR programme that government would ensure the provision of an enabling environment for the progress of the nation. He lamented on government’s inability to ensure the effective participation of the RUFP in governance. He revealed that government lacked the funds to allow for the positions stipulated in the Lome Agreement, and called on the RUFP to exercise restraint and understanding in the name of lasting peace for Sierra Leone.
He further revealed that two Ambassadorial positions have been created for the RUFP, but the appointees cannot take their appointments because of lack of funds.
On the issue of the Electoral Commissioner, Professor Kaikai noted with satisfaction that the RUFP leader was duly consulted by the president. He showed his audience a letter to the RUFP leader from the President, dated 9th March 2000. This letter highlighted among other things the refusal of the RUFP leader to attend a consultation meeting of all political party leaders on the 27th January 2000, and its subsequent postponement. The letter further detailed that Chairman Sankoh was appropriately notified of the appointment of Mr. Walter Nicol as Electoral Commissioner to which the RUFP leader was not adverse. The letter further disclosed that Chairman Sankoh expresed his acceptance of the appointment, and willingness to go along with the decision of the other political party leaders.
Professor Kaikai called on the RUFP to give chance to diplomacy rather than resort to hostilities, “as this will not augur well for the progress of this nation of ours”. He expressed government’s determination to exploit negotiations through diplomatic channels to the fullest in finding a way out.
United Nations Acts Tough
The Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Sierra leone (UNAMSIL) has said in Freetown that he has the mandate to use force when necessary.
Speaking to pressmen early this week, General Veejay Jetley said that the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front were continuously provoking the peacekeepers in Makeni, Magburaka and other areas of deployment. General Jetley warned the rebels to desist from what he described as “these criminal acts” and disarm.
In a related development, the Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York has expressed his outrage at the recent skirmishes between the Peace keepers and combatants of the Revolutionary United Front. Mr. Kofi Anan cast the blame for such act on Chairman Foday Sankoh, saying, “He will be held responsible for whatever action his boys commit.” The rebels are reported to have killed at least four Kenyan peace keepers in Makeni, and held hostage three hundred and eighteen. “This is an unfortunate situation. We did not send them there to be killed,” an agry Kenyan woman told the BBC Thursday morning. Another Kenyan however said, “We should not raise hell out of this incident. It is their job. A soldier knows he can die at any time.”
The Kenyan government is reported to be holding consultative meetings with the military authorities and the United Nations to see the way forward. There are indications that the remaining Kenyan peace keepers will not be withdrawn, which is every Sierra Leonean’s prayer.
Police in bribery scandal
Detective Inspector S.Y. Senesi and Sergeant Massaquoi, both attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) have become a law unto themselves lately. The two detective officers are reported to be harassing businessmen residing at 30, Lumley Street almost on a daily basis, demanding bribes and threatening blackmail. This reporter visited Lumley Street where he learnt the following: Detective Inspector Senesie and Sgt. Massaquoi had gone to the said residence and disclosed that they were authorised to conduct a general search for contraband goods and fake passports, for which purpose no warrant was produced.
At the completion of the search, the two officers reportedly arrested one man, claiming that he was found to be in possession of a typewriter for which he had no receipt.
Sergeant Massaquoi demanded seventy thousand leones as bribe before the man could be released. The bribe was accordingly offerred. In spite of the bribe, Sgt. Massquoi was reported to have insisted on taking the typewriter along, which has not been returned since.
According to Sahr Mansaray, a businessman resident at 30 Lumley Street, Detective Inspector Senesie and Sergeant Massaquoi went back to them last week and demanded a bribe of one million leones before they (officers) would feel satisfied and ‘close’ their investigations and the case against them. Sergeant Massquoi is quoted to have boasted of his strong connections with the ruling party and unshakable contacts high up at Police headquarters.
An eyewitness revealed to this reporter that Sergeant Massaquoi behaved unprofessionally and that to prove his untouchability, he has illegally detained one Ansumana and threatened to send him to prison unless a two hundred and fifty thousand leones bribe was paid.
The two detectives took to their heels when this reporter flashed his press ID . In the process the Police Identification card belonging to Detective Inspector Senesie fell on the ground.
“This is a clear case of abuse of office and criminality,” an elderly businesswoman remarked.
Satan appears in Crusade
Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone and International Crusade ,USA, held their Crusade from the 2nd to the 9th of March 2000.
The crusade was held in different Baptist churches in Freetown. There were twenty-four Evangelists from different countries simultaneously preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Tengbeh Town Baptist Church held its own crusade in its church but was later transfered to another venue. They were warned not to tranfer because the place they chose was full of evil. The organisers of the crusade refused to listen to the people. They went and held their crusade and it was during their praise and worship time that Satan sent his agent and blew off the musical set.
It took prayer worshipers many hours before they could put the situation under control. As if that was not enough, a snake from nowhere crawled through the thick crowd and appeared right in front of the pulpit. The Evangelist, Mr. Steve Cook wasted no time in killing the snake much to the satisfaction of his congregation. The people shouted “Praise be to God, Satan has been defeated.”
Sea accident Claims Two
Two fishermen were reported to have died in a heavy storm on the 24 April, 2000 at Bompehtoko in the Kagboro chiefdom, Moyamba district.
According to Osman Bundu who survived the sea accident, three of them boarded their fishing boat (Yeleh Funfu).
The two deceased Amadu Bendu and Santigie Bangura met their deaths when a heavy storm struck their boat during their fishing process and the boat capsized in to the sea.
After about four hours of struggling, Amadu and Santigie started shouting in agony. Osman said before midnight he heard an unusual voice saying, “ I am dying in pain.”
And before the lightining could strike for the third time, his colleagues were nowhere to be seen.
Osman Bundu continued that he was only fortunate to get hold of the boat after another heavy storm struck the drowned boat and resurfaced at sea level. “I thought I was the next victim,” Osman intimated.
Osman explained how he survived the accident when a commercial boat arrived from Gbangbatoke, and a truck heading for Shenge. He said he was rescued and brought to the village of Bompehtoke where villagers gathered to hear the sad news.
The boat was said to have discovered at Baoma village, two miles from Bompehtoke and the fishing net worth Le1,000,000 was nowhere to be seen.