Sierra Leone Disarmament Slows


September 26, 2001

Sierra Leone Disarmament Slows

Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone threatened Tuesday to bring disarmament to a standstill if the government fails to keep its word on key issues, Reuters reports. RUF members believe pro-government militiamen have been allowed to keep some of their weapons, despite the agreement that both groups would disarm. RUF officials told Reuters they wouldn't disrupt the peace process, but there would be a stalemate until the issues were addressed.

In the meantime, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone reports disarmament began this week in two more of the country's districts. Though only a handful of RUF fighters turned over weapons in the districts, at least 64 pro-government fighters have disarmed. In one village where disarmament began, villagers cheered, sang and danced as weapons were turned over to U.N. officials. In addition, the U.N. Security Council urged the Sierra Leone government to speed efforts to restore government authority and basic services across the country, Reuters reports. The Security Council extended the U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone until March 31, 2002 as well.

In other conflict news, Angola's UNITA rebels today told Reuters they killed 23 government soldiers and seized weapons in new fighting near the capital Luanda. UNITA says the attacks are part of a new strategy to take the war to Luanda. Most of the country's civil war has been fought far from the capital in the countryside. On Tuesday, UNITA warned the civil war would continue unless the 1994 peace pact was renegotiated; however, analysts are skeptical the two sides will meet any time soon to negotiate an end to the war, Reuters reports.

- by Julia M. Duncan