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Sierra Leone

Yearbook 1999

Sierra Leone. According to Countryaah official website, rebel forces moved into the capital Freetown in January. City dwellers and refugees from the countryside were harassed and killed and the city destroyed. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and several ministers were forced to seek protection from the West African peacekeeping force ECOMOG at the airport. After a few days, ECOMOG again forced the rebels out, but these refused to join the ceasefire unless their death-doom leader Foday Sankoh was released. Since Sankoh was flown to Guinea to talk to international mediators, an uncertain ceasefire ensued, fueled by new outbreaks and rebel assaults on civilians. In April, Sankoh was brought to Togo to consult with his colleagues in the Revolutionary United Front (Revolutionary United Front, RUF).

1999 Sierra Leone

After a first peace agreement was broken, a new agreement was signed in July by Sankoh and President Kabbah. The agreement promised government posts to the RUF and its allies from the military junta that ruled Sierra Leone in 1997-98. The death sentence against Sankoh from 1998 for treason was revoked, and full amnesty was granted to all rebels. Against this came strong reactions from the UN and human rights groups, which found it extremely offensive that serious crimes, bordering on genocide, would remain unpunished. During the entire civil war of 1991, and especially since being expelled from Freetown in 1998, the Rebels had committed some of the worst bestialities in modern war history. As part of the peace process, 41 people sentenced for cooperation with the former military junta were pardoned, including 21 convicted. However, the work of anchoring the peace agreement in the field was slow. New outbreaks, now mainly between RUF and former army soldiers, often occurred. In August, junta soldiers took a large number of aid workers and UN employees hostage for a week.

Formally, on October 21, the disarmament of 45,000 soldiers was initiated, but continued fighting delayed the process. The UN Security Council decided to send a 6,000-man strong peacekeeping force, called UNAMSIL.

In November, the new government took office, giving the rebels four ministerial posts. Sankoh was given a position equivalent to vice president and became head of a commission to control the extraction of the country's natural resources, while former junta leader Johnny Paul Koroma was appointed to lead the reconciliation work and oversight of the peace process.

 
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