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UN Chief to Assess Peace Effort in Sierra Leone

  • Peter Clottey

Evidence of Sierra Leone's civil war remains

Evidence of Sierra Leone's civil war remains

Sierra Leone’ s information minister said President Ernest Bai Koroma will host talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Monday in the capital, Freetown.

Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said the presence of the U.N. chief will enhance the government’s efforts to make peace permanent after the country’s recent recovery from a more than decade-long civil war.

“As part of the monitoring process in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, will arrive here today, and, then he will meet the president, they will have a tete-a-tete (private conversation), after which the president will organize a banquet for the Secretary-General,” he said.

Sierra Leone’s civil war, which began in 1991, was officially declared over on 18 January 2002.

Observers say the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) played a pivotal role in ending the civil war in which tens of thousands reportedly died and over two million people were displaced.

Information minister Kargbo said the government is making strenuous efforts to ensure “eternal” peace takes root in Sierra Leone.

“The important thing is that Sierra Leone has converted the national radio station into an independent national broadcaster as a way of promoting the peace process. So, the Secretary-General will be there and President Ernest Bai Koroma will hand over the radio station to the board of trustees…creating a broadcaster that will allow the opposition, civil society and other organizations to take part in news dissemination,” Kargbo said.

Backed by the international community, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up in 1999 after former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and rebel leader Foday Sankoh signed a peace accord in Lome, Ivory Coast.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was mandated to “create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone, from the beginning of the conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement, to address impunity, to respond to the needs of the victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered.”

Information minister Kargbo said Mr. Ban will also ascertain the progress of the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kargbo said the government is determined to strengthen democracy.

“Of course, it is part of the reform process in this country… the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had reported that one of the…factors of the war had to do with the fact that government monopolized the dissemination of news. And, Ernest Bai Koroma, once he came to power, decided that the government radio station should be given some status of independence,” Kargbo said.